Ariel Wiley: Aspiring Filmmaker
By Dianne Anderson
Creating the highly anticipated short film “Back in Black” has been an exhilarating moonwalk for 17-year-old Ariel Wiley, which are some of the best 11 minutes of his youthful life. Still, don’t expect a spoiler alert.
What aspiring filmmaker Ariel Wiley will say of his regional award-winning tribute film is that it is set in an adventure of a lifetime for the teenage journey to meet superstar musician, Michael Jackson.
But getting there was not without its challenges.
Besides the obvious, that everyone loves Michael Jackson, Wiley’s inspiration for the film came while recovering from a collapsed lung. His health put him far behind the time schedule, and he had to shift quickly from his original project. He took the filming goals in a whole different direction.
The Chaffey High School senior is currently in his second year course in digital filmmaking, and explains that at first, the film development fell very short of what he had hoped for.
With the help of his teacher, he was able to connect first hand with talented students, who took the time to teach him the ropes about several aspects of film making.
“I learned a lot. I did some camera work, and directed some of it as well. Their editing skills were unmatched, but I learned so much more than I thought I knew,” he said. “Everyone loved it at the festival.”
Back In Black screened at the 10th Annual Diversity Youth Film Festival, presented by Mrs. Billie J. Green of the African American Film Marketplace & S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase.
In the future, he hopes to incorporate more social consciousness and larger justice issues facing the Black community into his works. Right now, he and his friends are working on a series called “The Breach” to air on YouTube. It’s not a genre, he said, but focused on a teen and his friends, facing hard knocks issues.
The main character comes from a broken home and bad neighborhood, trapped in an area of heavy drug use and the selling of drugs, but he wants to do something more with his life.
“Me being a young Black male in America, I wanted to implement an arrest scene to show the realism of life,” he said.
Between now and when he graduates college, he knows he has a lot to learn about the creative aspects and the business of filmmaking. He intends to attend Mt. San Antonio College, which has several filming programs.
He’s also thinking of dabbling in animation, fashion and clothing brands.
“When we were there, the guy that gave us a tour said students of Mt. Sac that were in the filming program worked on the Apollo 11 project. Some students in the animation program also worked on the popular animation Coco.”
The filmmaking process was an eye-opener, but he said probably the most thrilling experience came from watching the reactions of the audience watching his screening.
It was encouraging.
Wiley was the only representative from the Inland Empire that had a completed project, and was part of a group of roughly ten other filmmakers recognized. All those selected for the screening received medals.
His future academic goals are laid out, and he plans on having a lot of resources at his fingertips. He said he is grateful for all the help along the way, from his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Eddie Wiley, Sr., his mentor Alton Patton, and his friends.
Other projects are in the works. He and his friends are working on some with martial arts, hoping to get more editing done soon, but school takes priority.
“Sometimes it’s hard with scheduling when school is going on, everyone has finals to get ready for. Hopefully, I can maybe do three to four videos a month,” he said.
Some of his inspiration for the future has been energized by getting over some hurdles of his past.
One, he said, has been to not get discouraged when others didn’t see the vision he has for himself. His advice for students or anyone serious about getting into a life of creativity is simply to follow their heart.
“Don’t stop,” he said. “Keep your head up. Keep doing what you love, no matter how hard. Keep pushing through to finally reach that goal.”