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On Island Profile: Richard Vialet

August 7, 2005- Sure to one day be hobnobbing with some of Hollywood's biggest and brightest stars, aspiring filmmaker Richard Vialet says that, right now, life is all about achieving a balance between a rigorous college course load and his own personal moviemaking endeavors.
"It's certainly all about time management," Vialet said. "Since I've been in college, I've had to make sure to find a way to do both my school work and get all the things done I need to complete my own projects—that includes making time to find actors, crew, production people. But it's all part of the game."
Indeed, a busy schedule doesn't seem to have stopped Vialet from pursuing his dream to be behind the scenes of a hit box-office flick—it's actually encouraged him to do more in his field. "At my college, the teachers don't come straight out and talk to you about moviemaking…I've had to go out and get a lot of information on my own. You have to be really serious in this business—I've done everything from reading about movies, to watching movies, to being a production assistant in movies—and it's really helped me to move forward," Vialet said.
A senior at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Vialet mentioned that he also had a little help from his friends—a seven-man group of film students called Talented Beasts Entertainment, of which Vialet is a part. "We all met during our freshman year at Howard…we were all production assistants for a six-episode TV-miniseries that another student was doing. Since then, we've all helped each other out with various projects…I've always worked with them on mine."
With this group, Vialet has completed five personal projects in the last four years and hopes to eventually become part of the independent film circuit. "My first movie was called "Transient Exuberance"—it's about these two guys who meet in a park to talk about a serious incident that happened to both of them in the past. Through the course of the film, the audience finds out that they are cousins, and that the older male molested the younger one. I finished this project in 2003…my sophomore year," Vialet said.
But college isn't the only arena in which Vialet has excelled. A native St. Thomian, the young cinematographer found his calling right here at home through opportunities like Graffiti Street and the Youth Moviemaking Workshop (YMW) at the Reichold Center for the Arts.
"Growing up, I always loved movies, and after seeing Jurassic Park, I thought about being a director," Vialet said. "But even though I wanted to work with movies, I didn't think that it would be accessible for people from the V.I. to be in that kind of position behind the scenes. So I decided that maybe I would be an actor instead…but the summer before I went to college, I got asked to intern at the YMW, and that's where I began to realize that maybe I could be a director after all."
Vialet added that the YMW helped to give him the confidence he needed to pursue film production on the mainland. "In the workshop, I was really able to learn about the technical side of entertainment…I gained a familiarity with all the equipment, and learned exactly what goes into making a movie. After that, I knew that this is what I had to do."
Graffiti Street and Teen Jamz, both local teen television shows, further enabled Vialet to experience life in the industry he loves. "I did these shows when I was attending high school at All Saints [Cathedral School]. They were both such great experiences…I learned a lot about what it takes to actually be on television, how to speak in front of people…and that's really helped me at Howard," Vialet said.
Also a performer in the seventh annual Starfest talent show, Vialet emphasized that this sort of confidence is exactly what he will be bringing with him as he continues into the future. "Through all my experiences, at home and at Howard, I've learned to that I have to be assertive. I don't like confrontation…I have a tendency to be more quiet on the set. And that can't happen…the movie will just run away from me. It's helped me gain control."
Apart from these real-life events, Vialet has also taken inspiration from directing greats such as Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock. "Spielberg is definitely a director's director…he's the most versatile, just like an artist. He can go from making a big production like War of the Worlds, and then come back and create an intimate character piece like The Color Purple. That's incredible to me."
In order to channel some of the "genius" of his idols into his own work, Vialet admits that he spends most of his time watching movies and analyzing the director's commentary. "You have to watch a lot of movies…you have to—anything you can. And you have to watch them more than once because then you're able to break them down. That's another thing that helps me out a lot. Once those ideas are in your head, the things that others have done technically and creatively, then you can break down their barriers and make your own stuff."
Excited about going back to college for his final year, Vialet further hopes to gain experience by attending graduate school at the American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles, Calif. "It's a very exclusive school, though, and very expensive. But I know that if I have the opportunity to go there, I'll be set…it'll be exactly what I need to get my foot in the door."
If not, Vialet plans to stick around Washington, D.C., to continue work on his movies. "I'm really excited about the next phase in my life," Vialet said, smiling. "I know that if I'm good enough, it will happen for me."
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