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Spreading the Word

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Leky Lin at WorldFest Houston. Photo courtesy of Leky Lin.

At Academy of Art University, students don’t just produce beautiful, inspiring work, they also learn how to get their work out there in the industry. Teaching students about the importance of marketing and PR, but also taking initiative, is something that instructor Patricia J. Pawlak prides herself on, and it seems to be a recipe for success. Recently, MPTV student Leky Lin found out just how valuable this knowledge is as he started promoting his short film, The Lottery, which he produced alongside a crew of past and present Academy students, including screenwriter Raiza Centeno and director Hanrui Wang.

The story follows starving orphan Billy, who ends up questioning his own morality after stealing a winning lottery ticket from the town drunkard. Lin said that when he read the script, it reminded him of a time when he was at secondary school in China. “I saw some orphans begging in the street … Some people thought we should keep away from them, and they would steal something. Some adults [said to] their children, ‘If you do not study hard you will become like this.’ Unfortunately there was no one to look at these orphans [with] compassion and give them help.”

While Centeno picked up the award for “Best Original Screenplay” for the film at this year’s Media Awards, The Lottery also won a Gold Remi at WorldFest Houston earlier this year. Attending the festival was a valuable learning experience for Lin, who said, “At the festival the most important lesson is to keep an active and positive personality, and you will have unexpected gains.”

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Image courtesy of Leky Lin.

Lin, who is usually a shy person, was inspired by what he learned at the Academy as well. “My teacher [Pawlak] taught me that Americans prefer people [who] fail but keep active rather than don’t do anything [because they’re] afraid to fail. She encouraged me to [make a] brave attempt, failure does not matter now, [at the] student stage if I fail loss is minimal … This encouraged me, so I became one of the most active people in the film festival.”

Lin got to know over half of the people attending the festival, making sure he showed them his film. He got to know press people and asked if he could write about his film for them. He even got to know the staff working at the festival and the hotel, which meant he was told about private parties where he could make good contacts.

One of his biggest takeaways was that “language is not a barrier for our international students; fear and inner conflict is our biggest problem.”

When it comes to PR and promoting his film, Lin seems to have it sussed. As well as participating in the festival scene, he took charge and managed to get an interview of his on CCTV, the largest TV station in the world, which broadcast it to one billion people. A lot of press coverage was generated as a result for both the film, and the Academy itself. From local to national media, the news of his film has spread to many countries, including the U.S., China, Argentina, Brazil and Puerto Rico.

“Leky came into class like a dry sponge, excited and eager with tons of energy, ready to learn as much as he could,” said Pawlak. “He had an innate understanding that marketing his film and getting press was a key to success and was ready to give the tools that I exposed him to in class a try. He shows joy, compassion and intelligence in all his work”.

“Finally, I would like to thank our school MPTV teachers,” said Lin. “Thank you for your help, guidance and support to enable us to shoot this movie. Special thanks [to] Patricia J. Pawlak, [who] taught us how to do the film distribution, film festival marketing and PR, that made us promote and show our film to the world.”

The future looks exciting for Lin, with coordinator of the producing program for MPTV, Curran Engel, describing him as “an amazingly resourceful producer. I am inspired by the ambition of The Lottery and have encouraged him to continue pursuing the concept as a feature film project.”