Mesa native, Vincent Cota, a senior at New York University majoring in film and TV production, returned home recently after a 10-day trip to Thailand with a major award in hand.
More than 400 teams applied for the “Amazing Thailand Film Challenge,” and Cota’s team was one of 32 selected worldwide for the Thailand International Destination Film Festival 2016. The festival is in its fourth year and is for film students worldwide. Only two teams were selected from the United States.
Cota partnered with New Jersey’s Prachi Mehrotra, also a senior at New York University, majoring in politics and journalism. They were selected at the end of June after a quick application process and review of a short video they produced.
The duo left on an all-expense paid trip to Thailand from New York City on July 1, with the festival beginning on July 4.
Cota, who turned 21 on July 12, received his birthday present on July 13 when fellow filmmakers and judges viewed all 32 films and awarded “Sweet Success” the honor of Outstanding Presentation of Thailand, Royal Coast Cluster, along with $850. The evening was a star studded, formal event and included world-wide media, directors, actors, and the prime minister.
“I’m absolutely humbled to not only have had the opportunity to travel to Thailand and meet so many amazing people, but also to have won an award and prize for our category and to have come home with much more than just experience to show for all of our hard work,” Cota said.
Filming took place at a Phetchaburi, Thailand, sugar palm tree plantation built by Thanom Phungern more than 20 years ago. The seven-minute film is a behind-the-scenes look at the sugar palm tree plantation and gives viewers insight on Thailand’s culture and economics. The sugar tree palms are difficult to grow and can take up to 20 years to produce fruit. In addition, the tree’s wood is in demand for a variety of household items.
After shooting for four days in Phetchaburi, Cota and Mehrotra had three days to edit their film in Bangkok. They had to use a translator for interviewing Phungern.
“It’s incredibly difficult to make a film in a language you don’t speak,” Cota said. “It took an immense amount of preparation to be able to anticipate the possible outcomes from our interview questions. In order to keep our interviews long enough so that we had what we needed but short enough so that we didn’t have too much to translate, subtitle, and edit in just a few days was a tricky balance.”
Proud parents Elaine and Fernando Cota, also of Mesa, enjoyed keeping up with their son’s journey through social media.
“Turning 21 on a free trip to Thailand doing what you love to do the most – shooting films – doesn’t get any better than that,” Elaine said.
View “Sweet Success” at: https://youtu.be/4Wz1hKX_sS8.
– Kelly Mixer is managing editor of MyNewsMesa.com. Reach her at email@example.com.