Erik Andersen's first attempt
at Hollywood filmmaking was almost lost, the reels of raw
footage he shot as a young film student close to disappearing
But on a whim, Andersen
Los Angeles Valley College,
which he attended from 1986 to 1988.
He was there to get a feel
for his old campus for a screenplay he and a friend are writing.
Instead, he found his student films and those of nearly 200
classmates piled up and ready to be discarded.
"I was told they were getting
rid of the films to make space for remodeling," Andersen said.
"It was my understanding that the college was supposed to save
the projects as part of school property."
College officials said they
didn't want to throw the films out, but Andersen decided to take
them home to help preserve a piece of the school's history and
also to find the rightful owners.
Eric Swelstad, chairman of
media arts, said the department has contacted many of the
students to pick up their films. But few were found or
had student films here stored for many years, for decades," he
said. "But we have a need for space. These are old public
service announcements. We are not going to throw them away."
Four-foot-high stacks of cans
holding film reels cover the floor of Andersen's studio in his
Toluca Lake home. Through telephone numbers found inside the
cans, and with the help of the Internet, he hopes to locate
students who produced the original work.
One of the few he's located
so far is Ron Sobol of
who went to
from 1972 to
1976. He made an anti-smoking public-service announcement called
"Russian Roulette" and in 1976 won an award for film student of
Sobol went on to the film school at the
University of Southern California,
then toured with rock bands as a photographer.
"It was a kind of weird
call," Sobol said. "Sometimes, I think about the old days. I
have an old box filled with those old films."
Andersen eventually went on
to work in the industry as a film editor with credits that
include Madonna's, "Truth or Dare," and on the cheerleading
movie "Bring it On." He said he would have been sad if the film
he had made as a student had been destroyed.
Some of the negatives include
cuts for a public-service announcement he directed on
alcoholism. The film called "Don't Destroy Your Future", shown
on television, won a college award.
"If it wasn't for me doing
what I'm doing," Andersen said, "these films would have been