The thesis films of two recent Berkeley Journalism graduates, Brad Bailey and Jason Hanasik, have been named finalists in one of the most competitive film contests in the country.

Brad Bailey’s “Hale,” a documentary short on Berkeley-based disability rights pioneer Hale Zukas, 73, who has had cerebral palsy since birth, and Jason Hanasik’s “How To Make A Pearl,” on the inner landscape and outer reality of John Kapellas, who for the last 10 years has lived in complete darkness, are both up for Student Academy Awards.

“I’m just thankful Hale’s story can be told,” said Bailey, who was at his thesis film’s premiere at the Rhode Island Film Festival with his co-producer Isaac Smith (‘17) when he learned he was in the running for an Oscar. “Hale is iconic, and his hat and letter board belong in the Smithsonian. He is truly inspiring and has changed my life. It is an honor to tell his story.”

Jason Hanasik was on the other side of the country at a Veterans Administration hospital with the subject of his film when he learned he was a finalist. “Given his sensitivity to light, we were sitting in a dark room waiting for the doctor to do his quarterly check-up when the notification arrived. I quickly covered my phone so the light wouldn’t hit John. He thought something was wrong because my mouth dropped open as I read the news. He could see I was suppressing a scream. I told him the news once I composed myself and then–as the nurse came in–I exited to call my boyfriend and mom.”

“Having not one, but two recent graduates named student Oscar finalists is a remarkable achievement for our program,” said Dean Edward Wasserman. “It’s a prestigious hat-tip to these two emerging artists, and to the teachers who have been grooming nonfiction filmmakers here for three generations. The list of successful filmmakers who have come out of this School continues to grow.”

Hanasik is grateful for the guidance he received from faculty. ”There is no way I would have arrived at this moment without the guidance of Orlando Bagwell, Spencer Nakasako, Mark Berger and Kara Platoni. Each of them have left a major mark on how I think about telling stories.”

Bailey feels a similar debt. “I have great appreciation for my advisor Bob Calo, who guided me, and at the same time allowed me the room to create and craft this story. It was a tough story to tell, but I am grateful for the support at every step through this process. In addition, Deirdre English, Marlena Telvick, Orlando Bagwell, and last but not least, Chris O’Dea for his fantastic technical expertise. Also not to be forgotten, of course, fellow J- Schooler and producer Isaac Smith for being there from the beginning, and Pablo De La Hoya, Abner Hauge, Nailah Morgan, and Mahlia Posey for always being kind, real, and never underestimating or giving up on this process. I also want to give a big hug to members of the Class of ’17 and ’18 who lent a hand throughout the production. I know their schedules were busy, but they made the time, and I won’t soon forget it.”

Hanasik received post-production funding from Minette Nelson and David Eckles of The Filmmaker Fund, which makes direct grants to students through the Fine Cut Fund at the J-School. Their efforts provide the next generation of high-impact documentary makers and multimedia producers with critical financial backing to defray the hard costs of documentary and multimedia production.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences established the Student Academy Awards in 1972 to encourage excellence in filmmaking at the collegiate level. Past winners have gone on to receive 57 Oscar nominations and have won or shared 10 awards, and include such luminaries as Pete Docter, Cary Fukunaga, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Trey Parker and Robert Zemeckis.

This year, 2016 J-School graduate Daphne Matziaraki won a Student Academy Award and was a finalist for an Oscar in the Documentary Short Subject category for “4.1 Miles.” Alum Melina Tupa (’16) also received a nomination.

The 44th Student Academy Awards will be presented in Beverly Hills on Oct. 12.

About the Documentary Program at UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley’s documentary program is widely considered one of the most important graduate nonfiction film programs in the country. Carrying on the work begun in the 1980s by producer Andrew Stern and pioneering filmmaker Marlon T. Riggs, professors Jon Else and Orlando Bagwell have trained hundreds of filmmakers of talent, diversity, and accomplishment.

Grounded in the values of professional journalism–accuracy, eloquence, aggressive research and reporting, strong writing, ethics and analysis–combined with fundamentals of solid filmmaking, documentary production at UC Berkeley emphasizes visual imagery and a wide range of storytelling styles: investigative, historical, biography, personal essay, and cinéma vérité.

Help the next generation achieve accomplishments like these by making a tax-deductible donation to our Fine Cut Fund today.

QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER

Dean's Letter

Latest edition of the Dean's Newsletter

Apply

Learn about admission to the J-School 

Give

Support the J-School

Berkeley AMI

Workshops and custom training programs for career professionals

Media Services

Professional broadcast services for television and radio