La Jolla resident has special effect on local film up for San Diego Film Awards
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La Jolla resident has special effect on local film up for San Diego Film Awards

Oct 05, 2023

The San Diego-based short horror film "Touch" may not have many visual effects, "but the ones that it does did its job," says La Jolla resident and visual effects artist John Menvielle. For his skills behind the scenes, Menvielle has been nominated for a San Diego Film Award in the best visual effects category. In total, "Touch" received eight nominations.

The recognition "feels good," Menvielle said, adding it was unexpected. "It was kind of a surprise. The film doesn't have a lot of visual effects in it."

"Touch," which is about an apathetic police unit bringing in a mysterious young woman to help solve a grisly homicide, also picked up nominations for best actress, best cinematography, best director, best editing, best production design, best short film and best sound design.

The San Diego Film Awards winners will be announced Saturday, June 24, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

The film, written and directed by Justin Burquist, has already won for best editing at the Los Angeles Crime and Horror Film Festival, and as the audience choice for best horror short film at the Berlin Short Film Festival in Germany.

This is Menvielle's first such nomination for visual effects, though he has been nominated for other regional awards for various independent film projects.

While working on the set of an independent film, Menvielle does "a little bit of everything," he said, from sound work and audio recording during production to visual effects and video editing in post production.

Menvielle's work on "Touch" included blood effects, fog and other effects.

As he added "more of what was necessary," he said, "it's not the most exciting type of visual effects, but it really enhanced the film for what was needed."

Menvielle is now working on a feature film doing production sound and will soon turn to other projects with Burquist.

It's this repeated collaboration that Randy Davison, one of the actors in "Touch," said is responsible for the success of films like these.

Davison is a San Diego resident whose more than 20 years in acting has led him to work with UC San Diego School of Medicine students in La Jolla as they train in diagnostics.

"We have a set of ailments that that we’re dealing with for each case," he said, "and the students have to evaluate and come up with the best diagnosis that they’ve been taught as students. As actors, we give them our personal feedback [on the] interaction and how we felt as patients."

But Davison returns to projects with Berquist and others again and again, he said, adding that he and several of the cast and crew members on "Touch" are a "tight-knit community in San Diego," often moving from project to project together.

"You develop a bond with these artists that you gel with," Davison said. "We just know how each other works and we feed off of each other."

Davison feels he does his best when he's working with someone whose style he knows.

"I know what we can do together," he said. "You’re more likely to work outside of your comfort zone."

Menvielle encouraged those who want to get into independent filmmaking to "connect with like-minded people and try to get on set more often."

"It's not glamorous," he said. "It can be a very rewarding … hobby or job, depending on how you approach it." ◆