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February 9, 2024

Following his dreams

CU student studies film in Los Angeles
Guilherme Vital Senise is pictured at the set for the film La La Land in Los Angeles, California.

When Guilherme Vital Senise was a kid growing up in Brazil, he used to tell his parents he wanted to make animations just like Pixar and DreamWorks.

He’s now a graduate student at Campbellsville University (CU), and he’s working on making his childhood dream a reality.

In 2023, he earned his bachelor’s degree in film from CU, which required him to spend his final semester at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center in California.

Before traveling to L.A., Senise spent seven semesters at CU studying film.

“It is a great environment for self-learning,” he said. “I learned more than I thought I was going to. We had a lot of books and theoretical classes. I didn’t know anything about that, so it was good to improve in that area.”

While completing his undergraduate degree, Senise started working for the CU Sports Information Department, which included broadcasting and learning about the technical side of the business. He then chose to learn more about the creative side, which included how to use actual film cameras, as well as how to edit.

When it was time for him to travel to L.A., he was ready.

“The atmosphere in L.A. was completely different,” Senise said. “I was used to the chill environment of Kentucky. Managing my own time. When I went there, I needed to make things ASAP.”

While studying in L.A. was at a much faster pace, he knew it was where he needed to be.

“It was my first time being around people that wanted to make films at the same level as me,” he said. “I met people who want to work in the film industry.”

Senise studied in studios where “La La Land” and “Nope” were filmed. He truly felt like he was inside the movie industry.

“It makes you more excited to learn and to be involved,” he said.

While in L.A., Senise directed his first short film titled “Mr. Bubbles.”

“It was very exciting because none of us were 100 percent familiar with filmmaking,” he said. “It was a first-time experience for pretty much everyone in the program.”

By the end of the semester, the film was screening at a movie theater in L.A., and students were able to invite friends and family to watch.

“It was the best part,” Senise said. “It paid off every single thing I did. I felt rewarded.”

According to Dr. Jason Garrett, professor of communication and film at CU, the directors at the L.A. studios said Senise was one of the top students.

“The short film he did ‘Mr. Bubbles’ was wonderful,” Garrett said. “Absolutely beautiful.”

Garrett said the saddest part of Senise’s journey was the COVID pandemic. CU was shut down during Senise’s peak, so he had limited resources. But he did the best he could, and he was still one of the top applicants, according to Garrett.

“Guilherme was brave enough to go to L.A.,” he said. “It is very difficult for internationals to do something like this because they don’t have access to American financial aid or loans. But he did his best to fundraise the money to go.”

Christopher Rett, director of the L.A. Film Studies Program, first met Senise through his application materials, and got to know him better when he arrived for the semester and began participating in the program. Rett’s first impression was that Senise was friendly, charismatic and collaborative. He also found him to be really thoughtful and knowledgeable about film, specifically, and pop culture, in general.

“G was one of our best students,” Rett said. “I can say that pretty confidently because not only was he one of the most engaged, hardworking and talented people in my classes, but I’ve heard from other faculty and staff that they had the same experience.”

Rett said what’s really special about Senise at this point in his life is that he has, first, a broad base in film education. He knows a lot of the greats, but also has seen a lot of independent and world cinema that a lot of students his age just haven’t experienced yet. Rett said Senise also has a very clear idea of what he wants to do and is already developing a distinct style and point of view in his work.

“If he continues to combine those things in his career the way he did during his short time at LAFSC, look out,” Rett said. “I think he’s going to do very rich, compelling, unique work and that will translate to success for him and incremental change in the industry.”

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About the Contributor
Clara Asprella is a sophomore from Argentina. She is majoring in film and minoring in broadcast and digital media. This is her first year reporting for The Campus Times. She's part of the Campbellsville University women’s tennis team. She also works for the CU Sports Information Department as a videographer. She loves taking photos and videos of everything, but especially of sports.
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