Recent MACS alumni reflect on film and winning UIUC Student Film Festival Jury Award

RaimoJoanna Raimo (BS ’22, MACS; pictured at right) and Gio Giles-Sanchez (BS ’22, MACS), creators of A Tint of Red, won the 2022 UIUC Student Film Festival Jury Award, selected by members of the College of Media faculty.

The pair’s film, a 21-minute psychological horror, was one of 19 short films and videos screened at the UIUC Student Film Festival last April at the Knight Auditorium at Spurlock Museum. 

The annual event, which is organized, promoted, and produced by students in the MACS course “Film Festivals,” features films of all genres created by undergraduates, filmmaking clubs, and production classes across the University of Illinois campus. 

The festival drew a crowd of more than 200 attendees in person and has nearly 400 views on the livestream channel. Watch the film fest recording here.

Jon Knipp, lecturer for the Film Festivals class, described A Tint of Red as a “rich, well-made film.”

“Among the jury’s comments was an appreciation of the film’s formal command and creative use of genre tropes,” Knipp said. 

Paige Terando, a New Voices Intern and a freshman in media and cinema studies, talked to Raimo and Giles-Sanchez about the film’s origin, inspiration, and what it felt like to win the jury award in a recent interview.  

What is your current job title and where do you work?

Joanna: I am a recent graduate from the College of Media with a degree in Media & Cinema Studies and English. I just finished my first post-college job, working on a political campaign for Congressman Brad Schneider, which was a temporary position. Now, I’m looking for other jobs and have expanded into a path into politics as well, which was not a path I expected to go down but have really enjoyed.

Gio: I am a recent graduate as well, also with a degree in Media & Cinema Studies. Currently, I am a weekend anchor, producer, and reporter for KOTA and KBN Black Hills Fox, in Rapid City, South Dakota.

What were some valuable takeaways you got out of helping organize the film festival through the MACS course?

Joanna: MACS 464 (now MACS 366) had only been around two or three years before being hit by COVID-19, and this was the first year that the festival happened with the turnout that was expected. Everyone who attended the festival that I spoke to said it was cool to see student filmmaking. I really enjoyed planning the festival as well. It was fun to see everyone in the class have their own piece. I did social media marketing for the film, which is something I can use in the future.

What inspired you to make the film A Tint of Red?

Gio: Originally, this script was one I wrote for fun, within a week over winter break. It came from all the different media I was consuming at the time, in particular a game called Layers of Fear. It inspired me to create a story with a similar theme: art and death. I had a fascination with artists and art galleries, which after some brainstorming, left me with the idea of artists being pressured into being perfect in the industry. In the beginning, this film was modeled to be a slasher film. After Joanna and I started talking and brainstorming other ideas, we changed the idea to a psychological horror.

Tint of Red setWhat was the process behind making this film?

Joanna: My senior year was coming up, and I knew that I wanted to create something bigger. Being a MACS student allows you to be a part of many small projects, but for this, I really wanted to do something of my own. One day in class, Gio was telling me about a script he had written and I asked him if I could look at it. That led to me asking if I could direct and edit this into a piece. One of the challenges we faced with the horror genre is how dramatic it is. We were excited to play with the styling and makeup effects we had within the film. The original script Gio gave me was 50 pages long, which we unfortunately had to cut down, to make this a short film.

Gio: After Joanna showed such an interest in the script I wrote, I asked her if she would want to work on it with me, and she agreed. She helped dial the film back from a slasher to a look into the (mental illness) struggle of a fine arts student. We had found a balance: I prefer to write the story and have someone else put their touch on it, which allowed us both to connect.

What techniques or theories did you learn in various MACS courses that you applied to this film?

Joanna: We began working on A Tint of Red when we were in JOUR 317 with Ken Erdey. On Camera Performance for UI7 is a class I recommend to anyone interested in journalism or anchoring. Also, getting to know your professors and networking is so important to do while in school. Victor Font (MACS lecturer) throughout the years has taught me so much about production. He taught me to just film, always be filming. Professor Amanda Ciafone and Jonathan Knipp were a big part of helping support us. All these professors helped us find resources to further this project. A lot of the things you learned in class, you learn to apply on set, which makes it really special.

Gio: I often read about lighting in classes, like MACS 100 and actually being able to play around with those skills was really cool to work with. Using gel filters, fill lighting, key lighting all were a big thing I was able to take away from classes and from this film. Jorge Murga did an amazingly beautiful job with the lighting within this film.

On winning the Jury Prize:

Joanna: Receiving the Jury Award for the 2022 UIUC Student Film Festival means so much to me, my co-director Gio Giles-Sanchez, assistant director Angelle Cortes, and our cast and crew. We spent many, many hours outside of our busy academic schedules to create A Tint of Red for the student film festival. We were eager to showcase our skills and prove that we could not only complete a substantial and challenging project before graduation, but that we could do it creatively and do it well. Receiving this award makes it all feel worthwhile!

—Interview by Paige Terando, New Voices Intern

(Photos provided by Joanna Raimo.)

Watch A Tint of Red:

For more details about the UIUC Student Film Festival, see