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Making Movie Magic

Alexander Hammett working on the set of Tale of Tarot.

Alexander Hammett works on the set of Tale of Tarot with Director of Photography/Editor Quinn Wolverton from Nova Cat Films. Photo provided

When Alexander Hammett, BA Film and Video Studies ’21, returned to campus last fall to participate in the annual Best of Mason film showcase, he not only had a chance to offer advice to incoming and current film students, he also served as a shining example of a successful graduate.

In 2021, not long after graduating, Hammett received Miami Indie Films’ Best Director Award for Tale of Tarot, a film written by fellow Mason alum Aaliyah-Janay Williams, BA Film and Video Studies ’21. At the same festival, the film also won for best lead female actress, played by Shalom Omo-Osagie.

The film, set at the turn of the 19th century, explores relationships through the eyes of two sisters who are trying to find a comfortable life. The plot includes a love triangle, but Hammett says the film’s biggest takeaway is to have faith in your loved ones. The film is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Hammett says he wanted to enter Tale of Tarot, filmed in May and June 2021, into as many festivals as possible. “It was great to know that the Miami Indie Film Festival was one of the few that were still open for submissions at the time.”

“It was honestly a great surprise,” Hammett says of the award. “This is the first piece I’ve directed that wasn’t at Mason, and to see how putting in the effort and time can really pay off was rewarding.”

While winning the award might have been a surprise to Hammett, Mason film professor Nikyatu Jusu wasn’t caught unawares.

“His directing award for his most recent work comes as no surprise based on his presence in my course. I recall Alexander to be curious, self-motivated, highly collaborative, and charismatic,” says Jusu, who is assistant professor of directing and screenwriting at Mason. “[I’m] excited for his bright journey ahead.”

At the Best of Mason, Hammett and other speakers explained the process of making films during the pandemic and recapped their time at Mason and what they learned. Hammett says Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts was instrumental in helping students believe in themselves. The audience also had the opportunity to view Stuck, Hammett’s senior thesis film.

Hammett’s creativity extends beyond the director’s chair. He recently wrote the script and starred as a lead actor in a horror film, Dantae’s Inferno, directed by Omo-Osagie of 1939 Studios and released in November 2021. He is also working on a web series called Command that is in post-production.

My message to students is that you should take the opportunities, take the chances, be on sets, be everywhere,” says the rising filmmaker/screenwriter/actor. “Because just being there is getting a step closer to where you want to be.”

—Jeanene Harris