FILMING STORIES THAT EDUCATE

Student Bunee Tomlinson shares why showing his documentary at the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at Cannes is only the beginning of his career as a filmmaker.

August 2016—For Bunee Tomlinson, the Cannes Film Festival in France was a homecoming of sorts. There, he met filmmakers from around the world, including his home country, Romania. He saw shorts, learned more about his cultural heritage, and soaked in all he could about film distribution.

The film that took him to the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the internationally renowned festival, “Bunee: The Boy from Constanta,” details how his parents, Susan Basler Tomlinson and Tommy Tomlinson, adopted him from Romania, brought him home to Oklahoma, and showered him with love, allowing him to learn about the world through his own lens.

As a preteen, Tomlinson found that making videos helped him make friends and foster new connections. Armed with a camera, he made videos for social studies, which fellow students loved. As he created more, he realized he’d found his medium, and became passionate about creating new content his peers would appreciate.

The same sense of camaraderie is what he enjoys most as a film student at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. “The greatest thing about the school is the people,” he says. “The kids are so driven. Movies are being made every weekend. The faculty are very supportive and each have different specialties, so you can get great advice. It’s a tight-knit community and we all support one another.”

At the university, Tomlinson has done a lot of cinematography for student projects. He is also building up his skills as a director and producer, both of which will impact his work at his company, Windswept Media, which is based in Oklahoma. He’s focusing on stories that educate. “Filmmaking is another form of journalism,” he says. “My goal is tohelp people learn about the world.”

When he graduates next year, he plans to expand the services of his production company. He’ll also continue to apply to film festivals, make new documentaries, and collaborate with professionals across the industry. “Filmmaking is an adventure,” Tomlinson says. “You never know what will happen next.” —Claire Blome