Arts and Humanities People and Community

Dynamic film duo discusses their award-winning project

Two, first-year Master of Fine Arts film students in the School of Communication collaborated and attained valuable learning experiences from each other while working as a team to create short films.

The U Creates continues a series focused on highlighting members of the University of Miami’s creative community.

In this Spotlight feature, meet Maria Paula Arboleda and Julie Peley, who are both first-year Master of Fine Arts students. Together, they have produced the multi-award-winning short film, “Tacet,” about an aspiring writer who starts to have doubts about her romantic relationship as she relives memories through her writing. The film has won awards in a variety of festivals, including the Miami Film Festival, Vegas Movie Awards, Direct Monthly Online Film Festival, and the Indie Short Festival.

Tell us about yourselves and what inspired you to get into filmmaking.

Peley: I'm from France, and I was lucky to be part of a family that allowed me to explore art as a kid. I was part of dancing groups, and my interest quickly shifted to photography. I just loved the feeling of capturing moments. I soon started capturing videos as it was the next step to photography for me. I quickly realized that I wanted to become a cinematographer and in this pursuit of cinematography, I discovered editing. I have become very passionate about editing. Right now, I'm a cinematographer and editor.

Arboleda: I'm from Colombia. My journey into filmmaking was a little different. Since I was little, I have been very passionate about storytelling. I would draw comic books and I would make up very elaborate stories with my toys. I never really saw this passion as something I could do in life. I come from a business family, and even if I was allowed and encouraged to explore hobbies in my free time, I always thought that I had to also study business. I started my undergraduate studies as a business major; and after a year and a half of feeling incomplete, I finally made the decision to study film. I started with the focus of being a writer but I then realized that I also liked directing. Right now, I'm a writer and director. My family is very supportive even when they don't really understand what it is that I do.

Explain the award-winning short films you created together. How do you feed off each other's creativity to produce these amazing works?

Peley: We have worked on two short films together: "Tacet" and "Fantôme." "Tacet" was filmed while we were both undergraduates. "Fantôme" was filmed in Paris after quarantine.

I first started working with Maria as her editor. She had just shot "Tacet," and she was looking for someone with fresh eyes to edit the film. I accepted the job, and it was an amazing learning experience for me. It was the first time that I became an actual editor. "Tacet" was completed, and it then became the award-winning short we have today. We are thankful because this short has allowed us to visit festivals such as the Miami Film Festival and the Next Generation Indie Film Festival in L.A. I've had a great experience working with Maria because she is a director who knows what she wants but is also open to creative input from others. I'm really thankful that when I was editing "Tacet," she wasn't there with me watching every cut. She gave me space to work by myself; and when I felt ready, I would call her to show what I had. And she would give me her thoughts. I believe this allowed me to grow as an editor because I felt her trust.

"Fantôme" is the second short film we did together. In this project, we actually worked together from start to finish as I was also the cinematographer. It was a short production of just one day, but it was still a great experience. I think we both push each other to do the best job we can do. I know that I grow a lot whenever I work with Maria because she knows what she wants, and she is not the type of person that is happy with a "good enough." This really makes me rigorous with my work.

Arboleda: I was lucky enough to have crossed paths with Julie. After I did "Tacet," I was in desperate need of an editor who understood the sensitivity of the film. And when I saw Julie's past work, I realized she was going to do a great job because she is patient. And you can tell that she notices every detail. "Tacet" became an award-winning short and one of the best learning experiences I've had. Having Julie as a partner enriches me as a person and filmmaker. She understands how I see the world and what I'm trying to express, but she is also objective enough to tell me when things could be different/better.

I'm constantly learning, and being able to learn from someone as talented as Julie helps. I think we both push ourselves further and even if sometimes there are some tough moments when working together, we are able to overcome those moments and create the best films we can possibly create. I had a lot of fun doing "Fantôme." Having Julie on set was a different experience to the one I had on "Tacet." I think that what works with our creative partnership is that we both listen and speak our minds.

What have you learned from each other in this process?

Peley: I've learned to be more rigorous with my work. Maria will sometimes spend a lot of time in a single cut, and I know that some people would just dismiss it as something that is not as important. She treats every tiny detail as equally important. It's her dedication and passion that really inspires me.

Arboleda: I've learned patience from her. Editors are so patient, and Julie is really the most patient one I've seen. She takes her time to see all the footage. I think that being able to work with someone patient really slows my mind in a good way. I'm able to digest things better.

What goals do you have for your future careers?

Peley: I want to continue working on projects that I believe in. I want to continue working with Maria and other directors with strong visions. I would also like to direct my own story. I want to have the experience of telling a story and leading a crew.

Arboleda: My goal is to continue making movies that touch people. I also want to go back to comic book writing and publish a graphic novel.