First-year transfer students transfer their dream from page to screen


Courtesy of Savannah Rohloff MFA Student.

Bryan Harris and Lynn Nguyen on screen during their Coca-Cola short film.

Despite being the first year Cal State LA has entered, two Golden Eagles made a big splash in the Annual Coca-Cola Refreshing Film’s Program (CCRFP) contest.

The Cal State LA students even made one of the four finalist spots in the CCRFP.

Since 1998, CCRFP has offered film students the opportunity to create a short featured in partnered movie theaters across the country. It wasn’t until the 2022 CCRFP that Cal State LA participated. 

This past year, Cal State LA was one of the schools that participated and gave Television Film and Media students, Bryan Harris and Lynn Nguyen, the hands-on experience of a full production shoot.

Harris was the writer and director and Nguyen was the student producer for the production.

Harris found the whole experience “unexpected.”

When the Cal State LA TVFM program posted about the project, he and the production club began bouncing ideas off of each other.

“I think the night before it was due I reached out to Lynn,” Harris said. “She had some good ideas and I thought we would work well together.”

Harris wanted to increase his chances of getting accepted into the CCRFP so he and Nguyen both submitted two separate scripts to a pool of approximately 500 scripts, from 46 different schools.

“At first we thought it was a mistake,” they both said.

Most semi-finalists received one email congratulating them, and Harris and Nguyen received two, informing them that both scripts had made it into the semi-finals.

“We didn’t just have to come up with one pitch deck, but two of them during the week of midterms,” Harris said. “It was a lot of work,” Nguyen added.

“Peace of Mind” and “Spark” were both scripts that Harris had written to submit for consideration. He never had thought he would have the opportunity to pitch both.

Every year CCRFP will give students different production prompts, last year students were asked to film a 30-second promo spot with approximately $15,000 in the budget. This year they nearly doubled the time, 50 seconds, and asked them to do it for $18,000.

Everyone had to get tested for COVID very frequently during the two-day shoot, according to Nguyen. explained the COVID-19 protocols during the two-day shoot.

“I actually didn’t know about our director of photography being replaced until showing up to set,” she said.

Harris only found out their director of photography had COVID as the CCRFP Directors were boarding a plane to come to L.A. This meant Harris and Nguyen had less than six hours to find a replacement.

Through the aid of faculty advisors and their connections within the industry, Harris was able to resolve the issue.

Both Nguyen and Harris remarked on how fast and time-consuming working in production can be.

“It felt like we narrowly dodged curve balls and they even hit us a few times,” Harris said. “I would be in class literally and during the breaks would have to review the footage.”

Harris said that this opportunity pushed them to form connections and work with people really quickly. The production team had a range of current students, industry professionals, and alumni giving their creative expertise on the project, according to Harris. 

“It really just goes to show how well Cal State LA can prepare us for the real world production,” he said.

Nguyen also found the production process to be a vital learning experience.

“What questions to ask, how to operate on set, now I really know exactly what I need to do if I want to produce a film,” Nguyen said.

Harris and Nguyen both agreed that being a step ahead of the process would have helped tremendously with the stress and workload of the project. They recommended starting the next step as soon as you submit.

“I think I will wanna take more of a back seat the next time around,” Harris said.

Harris realized through this experience that he would want to focus more on writing and helping support other students who may be involved in the process. Harris really enjoyed the entire experience.

Nguyen, on the other hand, wants to focus on writing and directing when she leaves Cal State LA.

The grand prize winner was announced at Cinemacon in Las Vegas last week. The winning promo spot came from the Rochester Institute of Technology and is entitled, “Say Cheese.”