More Miners strike gold at the Emmys

El Diamante alumnus Mario Landeros earns Emmy recognition for animated film created during his senior year

VISALIA – Nov. 23 was a big day for former El Diamante student filmmaker Mario Landeros, who won the 2021 Slick Rock Student Film Festival in May, and has now added Emmy winner to his resume for his film “Beasts in the Orange Clouds.”

Landeros’ beauty and the beast-esque film captured the 2021 festival’s top prize in the animation category. A girl meets a beast as she is walking through the forest. The beast tries to give the girl the cold shoulder, not wanting to build any type of friendship. As time goes on he realizes showing some type of emotion may not be so bad after all.

“You can be connected with someone, even if they’re different from you,” said Landeros as he described the message behind his film. “We’re still living in this world, in this thing called life that we both just want to get used to”

Coming from a Hispanic background, Landeros is the oldest of five within a household of nine and the first-generation college attendee at Otis College of Arts and Design. He is currently living in LA majoring in digital media with a focus in writing and storytelling.

As the oldest sibling, Landeros carried many responsibilities. Everyday after school he made sure his siblings were picked up from school, and headed to ‘Animation XL,’ an after school program taught by David William, a storyboard artist and current employee at Disney TVA. His routine was Monday-Friday, 3.-6 p.m. Emmy winner at 19 years-old still has Landeros at a loss for words.

“Shocked—that’s one word I can use to describe this,” said Landeros. “I was very thankful for my parents to be able to support what I do. I am a little overwhelmed too because especially at a young age…it’s just kind of surreal.”

Landeros is currently taking a break from films as he’s made one every year for the past four years. He is focused on his college classes as they require his full attention.

“Honestly my goal is to do what I want,” said Landeros. “I want to work by just making anything I want and publishing it, whether it be as an independent film or something funded or freelance, just being able to have that freedom.”

Landeros’ former teacher Ellie Herber is a class of 2009 El Diamante grad, and returned to her alma mater to teach Video/Broadcast/Film. Under her supervision, she was able to witness Landeros and the team of Noah Lillywhite, Samuel Zurek, and Kai Willey win Emmy Awards for their short films entered in the Sixth Annual National Student Production Awards.

“I feel privileged to be able to share equipment with them and be able to say if they want something that they feel could better their game or show they’re really interested in, we can purchase that equipment.’’ said Herber

El Diamante has a Media Arts Academy program available for incoming freshmen. To continue in this program students must maintain a ‘c’ or better in their classes and hold a 2.0 overall GPA. This class has so much film equipment as in cameras, lights, backdrops all available for students within the program.

“El D, I think always has had a really good foundation of video programs and then what they needed was a teacher that has a CTE credential,” said Herber. “A lot of this equipment we get through CTE grants, which they only give to teachers who come from the [film] industry.”

Herber studied at Cal State Northridge and began their Cinema and Television Art program with an emphasis in editing. After college, she eventually started her freelance career working for Firestone Production, worked on a documentary pitch ‘The price of Free’ and many other job opportunities.

During her time at El Diamante she realized that for a high school to attend the student Emmy they must be under an advisor with industry experience. After a couple years of researching, she was able to get her classes involved in the Slick Rock Festival. She wasn’t expecting the outcome her student received but couldn’t be prouder of them as their work receives the recognition it should.

“We got two merits and two regional Emmys, and then this national one we’re like, okay cool, it’s going to go to Nationals,” said Herber “We were so, so, so excited about the regional one than the National one we’re still trying to wrap our heads around it.”

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