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Liv Quintero is proof that the future of filmmaking is here at U.Va

From her extracurriculars to her academic career, Liv Quintero pours herself into her art in all aspects of her life

<p>Quintero’s drive to learn more about different kinds of filmmaking proves just how passionate she is about cinematography.</p>

Quintero’s drive to learn more about different kinds of filmmaking proves just how passionate she is about cinematography.

Second-year Architecture student Liv Quintero became a filmmaker on a whim. Her teacher asked her to create a film to submit to a festival when she was a student in a photography class back in high school. The teacher wanted more students to submit films, and while Quintero had only really pursued photography up until this point, she agreed. And, well — the rest is history. 

Multiple festivals accepted her high-school-made film “Catharsis” — which was about the feeling of cyclical emotions — before she even got to college — but she did not stop there. Ever since, she has been making films inside and outside of academic settings, seeing the once casual hobby become a deep passion of hers.

Since arriving in Charlottesville, the Chesterfield, Va. native has taken the University’s arts scene by storm. With the combination of her Architecture major and Studio Art minor, she has a great deal on her plate in regard to creative pursuits — as she is currently working on both film and architecture projects quite intensively — but that does not stop her from involving herself in numerous arts-based extracurriculars as well. 

Beyond her impressive academic endeavors, Quintero has found several creative outlets through her extracurricular activities. Quintero acts as the Design Director of V MAG, Creative Content Chair of WXTJ — the University’s student-run radio station — and is a new member of the editorial board of LUNCH — a student-led design research journal based out of the School of Architecture. In all of these positions, she leads design and content creation projects for the visual aspects of the organizations.

However, Quintero says her passion continues to lie most deeply in filmmaking, and she has been able to pursue that here at the University through her Studio Art minor. Most recently, in fall 2023, Quintero enrolled in an independent study for filmmaking when she realized that a cinematography class would not fit into her academic schedule. With the guidance of Kevin Everson, Director of the Studio Art program, she began creating her own short film.

With this opportunity, Quintero chose to make a documentary entitled “7:41 AM: rise.” The nine-and-a-half-minute short film follows real-life Charlottesville hot air balloonist Mandy Baskin and her close friend and crew chief Holly Layne as they balance their intertwined lives as friends as well as coworkers.

Quintero said she chose to make a documentary-style film not because she enjoys the genre but because she said it pushed her to find beauty in a genre of film that she had previously dismissed. 

“I wanted to make a documentary because I don’t really like documentaries,” Quintero said, “I kind of just wanted to see if maybe making one would push me to understand their purpose a little bit more.” 

Quintero’s drive to learn more about different kinds of filmmaking proves just how passionate she is about cinematography. Through her exploration of a medium she did not quite understand, and in the way that she took up filmmaking on a whim, it is clear that Quintero pushes herself out of her comfort zone — not only because she wants to understand her medium better, but because she appreciates art in its entirety.

From chasing hot air balloons to interviewing Baskin and Layne, Quintero put a great deal of time and effort into producing her documentary. She spoke of her experience making the film with a great deal of fondness, and while she enjoyed many aspects of the project, her favorites included the excitement of predicting what the film might look like before she got it developed.

“I think my favorite part was definitely going on the chases and sending in the film and getting it back since I shot all the b-roll on 16-millimeter film,” Quintero said. 

To Quintero, part of the excitement of the filmmaking process is that it can be incredibly organic. Quintero said she is often able to start with an idea on her notes app and the brilliance can just bloom from there. Her film ideas can begin from one word prompts to quick ideas on Pinterest boards, as she tries not to over-plan her projects. No matter how organic the process can be, though, Quintero said she has big aspirations of what she wants to do with her future films, especially because she learned a great deal from her documentary. From changing how she works on the audio to adding musical aspects to her films, she has a vision of what she wants her projects to evolve in the future.

“I think sound is something that I want to get into more when I’m making my next film.” Quintero said when discussing new ideas for her projects. “I want to think about how I can like mix nature sounds with some sort of instrumental music and see how they can kind of work together to create their own audio experience.”

Student Council’s Arts Agency awarded Quintero an Art’s Fund grant this spring, which is intended to aid students in pursuing art projects across a wide range of disciplines. She said she will use the money to shoot another 16 millimeter film this summer while she attends Mountain Lake Biological Station, a field station that provides wildlife-based research experience for University undergraduate students. Quintero is unsure what the film will be about — she said she does not want to overthink the creative process before arriving.

“I’m trying to go into it with no real plan but kind of just like a feeling,” Quintero said. “And then once I’m there I’ll really immerse myself in the space and kind of figure out exactly what I want to do.”

Though her involvement in arts-based academic programs and extracurricular activities are concrete proof of her love for art, it is the way that Quintero pours herself into the practice of filmmaking that really sets her apart from other student artists. And while Quintero has already cemented her involvement in the University’s arts community, it is clear that she will not be slowing down anytime soon. Students can view her short films and photos on her website, and audiences should keep an eye out for her new film in the coming academic year.


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