A photo of Odin Contreras-Villegas at a shoot.Odin Contreras-Villegas’ filmmaking journey has taken him from sprawling land of east Texas to the halls of San Bernardino Valley College.

Starting this Fall, he’s off to his next destination: UCLA.

As a high schooler in Texarkana, Contreras-Villegas found inspiration in the town's scenery, and would spend hours outside with friends, using DSLR cameras to capture the world around them. During his junior year, Contreras-Villegas started creating his own short films and launched a YouTube channel, RaccoonProject (now known as Prism Productions).

While researching community colleges, Contreras-Villegas found that SBVC's Film, Television, and Media Department is affordable, has a strong reputation, and offers a well-rounded education.

"SBVC FTVM appeared with everything I was looking for in film classes," he said. "From the script writing, TV production, short film production, and cinematography classes, it was an easy choice for me to select this school due to the low cost it provided."

Being part of FTVM gave Contreras-Villegas new opportunities, including being the first SBVC student to shoot a short film on 35mm. He was "nervous" at first, he said, and worried about learning how to properly expose shots for film, but the experience was made easier thanks to the "phenomenal" crew he worked with.

"It has been a great time developing my skills with professionals," Contreras-Villegas said. "My overall goal with my films is to implement messages of social and environmental justices while providing a safe space for filmmakers from different genders, sexual orientations, and races to end the oppression underserved communities have faced for so long through storytelling."

By attending a prestigious film university like UCLA, Contreras-Villegas is realizing his dream, and he can't wait to start classes and get involved with campus life. "I hope to learn more directing and cinematography skills during my time at UCLA, and at the same time, become involved in the Chicano and LGBTQ+ movements that the college offers, so I am able to donate my storytelling skills to uplift marginalized communities," he said. "When I graduate, I plan to pursue my master’s degree at the American Film Institute in order to advance my skills as a director and cinematographer."