Student Spotlight: Russell Reed

Theater kid-turned film enthusiast, Russell Reed has spent the last three years exploring his love for filmmaking and finding like-minded individuals in the process. This electronic media major is not only a self-taught filmmaker, but he also exemplifies authentic passion in a sometimes discouraging field. Only a sophomore, Reed demonstrates a great amount of dedication to his craft and doesn’t mind sharing his knowledge with others.

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Reed grew up in Houston and was in theater while attending high school. As the end of senior year approached, he knew he didn’t want to major in theater during college but at the time, Reed was producing comedy and suspense skits on YouTube. Although Reed realized the skits weren’t exactly Oscar winners, he explains that it was during this time when he realized he loved film and using his creativity.

“There wasn’t anything specific that led me to my love for film, it was sort of gradual. One day I caught myself watching a film, and I started to critique their acting and wanted to see how I could do it better.” says Reed.

Although still undecided about his college major, Reed knew he wanted to be at Texas State University and near Austin’s film community. Starting off as business major, Reed realized electronic media was the best route to encourage his passion.

While still maintaining his comedy channel, Reed decided to make a second channel on YouTube that was specifically dedicated to filmmaking. The creation of ViLITE films gave Russell an outlet to produce portfolio-worthy short films, how-to tutorials, and even camera reviews.


Russell Reed hopes to make it as a director or director of photography one day. Whether it is for films or television, Reed explains he would love to stick to the horror genre but will be satisfied as long as his work has an impact. Reed’s overall goal is simple, to be a great storyteller.

“I love telling good stories, that’s really what it is all about. Capturing the cinematically pleasing images to complete a story.” says Reed.

With no certifications or film coursework, Russell is self-taught using online resources. He explains how this drives his creativity even more and brings boundless possibilities. Every aspect of his life is motivation to continue to create and it is not limited to coursework.

Life as a filmmaker has completely altered Reed’s perception of the world around him. He explains, “I can no longer walk around and have the perception like a normal human being. Just walking around in the world, everything I see, everything I look at and everything I touch is an emotion that can be geared toward storytelling.”

One of the latest projects Reed has worked on was a collaborative effort with the late Travis Green. Although Green had passed before production started filming, Reed and collaborators made sure that film was completed. Reed explains how this project was important to them since it was one of the last projects Green put his hands on and they are trying their hardest to have it showcased through Texas State.

As for advice Reed has for others thinking about pursuing film, he says the the most important attributes are staying confident in your work, continuing to create and surrounding yourself with like-minded people. This recipe for success seems to be working for this dedicated young filmmaker.

Reed’s last piece of advice is that, “Although all odds are against artists, your safe route should never be your priority.”

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Alum Spotlight: Kevin Quintero

From valet attendant to co-founder of a digital marketing agency, Kevin Quintero is the definition of an innovated entrepreneur. Tenoch Labs is the brain child of two roommates who didn’t want to work under anyone besides themselves and knew that containing their creative minds would be selfish. With his “If anyone can do it, I can do it better” mentality, Quintero has manifested the perfect amount of perseverance to become a successful entrepreneur.

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Raised in Dallas, Quintero found his calling in digital media at a very young age. He recalls falling in love with film, editing and storytelling by the seventh grade. After attending Dallas Community College Quintero was drawn to the nature scene of central Texas and knew San Marcos was the place to be. Once Quintero researched Texas State’s electronic media program it was deemed the ideal next step towards his career.

When Quintero arrived in San Marcos he fell in love with the city, Texas State and most importantly, the professors at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Out of every resource Texas State offers, Quintero advises students to take full advantage of creating relationships with professors.

“The professors are really good people, they’re real people. They’re just there to teach. Mass Comm professors are good at communicating and want to build relationships with you. They know their field. They know everything is changing and media is shifting,” Quintero says.

Many of Quintero’s peers tell him that he is lucky for finding something is he so passionate about and that it comes naturally. They fail to realize the amount of time and effort that has been put into perfecting his craft. “Nothing comes easy, it’s not supposed to come easy,” says Quintero. He recommends that anyone who lacks a passion should try to do something they hate and they might find the love in it.

Quintero had no idea what advertising and marketing even consisted of until he was working as a valet attendant for a building that housed a marketing agency. When he searched the name of the business, he discovered that his hobbies matched almost every service they offered. At this point, he knew he could capitalize off his skill. His mindset during school began to take an entrepreneurial approach and thought of ways he could sell what he was being taught. Quintero explained, “You got to see beyond the textbook. How can I make money off of this? How can I offer this to someone that has money?”

As graduation was approaching, Quintero and his roommate, Hector Sifuentes, were managing their new business, Intel Productions, with minor projects. He was advised by peers and professors that seeking out a position with an agency would be a safer plan. Quintero expressed that it didn’t feel right to him, he had fallen in love with free creativity and the business.

One of Intel Productions first major projects was a collaborative effort with public relations agency, APC Collective. A Jarritos commercial created by the roommates for the agency and caught the attention of APC Collective. This was the start of a beneficial relationship between the two. After the project, Quintero made sure to keep in touch with the founder of the agency. The founder pleaded with Quintero to keep Intel Productions thriving and not work for anyone else, emphasizing that he will be underpaid and they are worth more. After voicing his concern with a living wage, the founder of APC collective offered to assist Quintero and Sifuentes and officially invest in the newly rebranded Tenoch Labs.

Jarritos: Love is Super Good from Intel Productions on Vimeo.

Kevin Quintero is now living out his digital media dream and can’t exaggerate enough how great it feels. Quintero’s main piece of advice to others is to never stop doing what you love, “Just keep working hard and then one person looks at your work and says ‘damn that’s awesome,’ and that one person turns to two and so on. You just can’t stop working.”

Emily Sharp in D.C.

The 2017 Presidential Inauguration was one for the books. As protestors, supporters, heads-of-state and average citizens filled the Capitol building and its grounds on Jan. 20, members of the University Star joined their ranks to cover the big event. Editor-in-chief Emily Sharp attended both the presidential inauguration and the Women’s March, while also covering the Texas State Strutters’ performance for the school newspaper. Sharp sat down with us and shared her experience in Washington, D.C. and attending these historical events.

Q: How did the opportunity come about?

A: “The Friday before we left, we brought it up with our advisor and told him we would love to go but didn’t know if we had the funds for it. He told us he could make that happen and pay for it using travel funds that the University Star had. Going and covering the Strutters’ first-hand was an opportunity we didn’t want to miss. While we were sitting there talking about it, I asked if there was enough money for two people to go. I didn’t want my news editor, Bri, to go alone. It would be dangerous and with the amount of stories to cover, one person wouldn’t be enough. Within two hours they informed us that everything was being sorted out by the travel office and told us that we were going.”

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Photo by Emily Sharp and Bri Watkins

Q: From a journalism and historical standpoint, how important was attending this event to you?

A: “Any inauguration, being able to go to that, for many people, is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I don’t know if I’d be able to do that again. That alone was a lot but also the Women’s March, which itself is probably going to be in history books. It was just another thing that I couldn’t believe I got to be a part of. As far as the Strutters’ performance, the university needed to cover something as big as that.”

Q: How do you feel about the backlash received from Texas State students about the stutters performing?

A: “I understand that some people are going to be unhappy about it. I think regardless of the election results people would still be upset that the Strutters attending. Regardless of that, they [the Strutters] get to add to their list of performances that they got to do. They’ve performed in China, they’ve performed at past presidential inaugurations, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was a great opportunity for those girls to experience performing on a stage that large.”

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Photo by: Emily Sharp and Bri Watkins

Q: What were some main takeaways from attending the inauguration?

A: “Security was ridiculous. I have never seen anything like that up close. The biggest thing I noticed during the inauguration was the split in the people. Whoever went up and spoke had a huge crowd reaction. There were never only polite claps for whoever was up there. Both from the protesters nearby and the people attending the inauguration, there was noise. It was crazy to see the divide so clearly and see all the different types of people. We see a little bit of that on campus, but it’s different to see it on a national scale of people from all around the world.”

Q: What was the Women’s March like?

A: “I noticed the contrast between the people the most. Both [the inauguration and Women’s March] had amazing people and both had not-so-great people. I was so surprised how peaceful the Women’s March was, especially with the slightly violent protest the day before. We expected to see Trump supporters in the streets, but we didn’t see any of that. If we did see someone wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, nobody was calling them out. It was all very peaceful and I think that was the best way to get their message across. It was huge! It sounded like when you get concessions at a game and you hear the roar of the crowd — that’s what it sounded like throughout the whole city. We were 30 minutes away, walking to our hotel, and you could still hear the roar. It was crazy to see, and the thing I remember the most is seeing the wide variety of ages, types, color — everybody that you could think of to be represented was there. It was something I feel like I’m going to remember for my whole life. Talking to people from both sides really humanized it for me.”

Q: Was there anything that took you by surprise?

A: “The participating peacefully took me by surprise. The amount of security took me by surprise. A lot of people up there [Washington, D.C.] were saying that they’ve never seen that amount of security before. That was interesting to see, I expected to see security but not that amount of security. You felt fenced in everywhere you went, like at any moment you could be trapped in an area. Gates and fences everywhere. They also changed the parade route last minute, so that was a huge surprise. Luckily, we were still able to catch the Strutters. Another thing that took me by surprise was the attendance at the inauguration. The sections were not filled up at all. I was expecting there to be a lot more protesters as well as supporters.”

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say about your trip as a whole?

A: “I’m really thankful that we got the chance to go. just to be able to record the Strutters’ performance. That has gotten so much attention, there have been people who reached out to us and thanked us for covering it. It was a crazy trip with little sleep but it was so worth it to get these historical aspects and bring them back to Texas State with our coverage on it. There were people from all over following it because we were one of the many news sources covering it. I think if people can, they should attend celebrations of different points of view because that’s the only way to grow and understand. That’s why I do what I do.”

News Engagement Day success!

Despite the disheartening statistics behind Millennials and their involvement with current news, Dr. Kelly Kaufhold spent News Engagement Day (Tuesday, Oct. 4) proving otherwise. Once again, Kaufhold did an amazing job last week engaging students in the best way possible. A “Cash Cab” style questionnaire and fantastic incentives kept the students crossing the front of LBJ Student Center curious. Kaufhold was able to draw in many students enthusiastic to prove their knowledge on current events. Even though some of Kaufhold’s questions left participants scratching their heads, he accumulated large crowds with correct answers! A perfect mix of pop culture and politics revealed that these students are far from letting statistics determine their standards of news involvement.

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Gilbert Martinez reunited with Okinawa

SJMC Senior Lecturer and Assistant Director Gilbert Martinez is known by many students for his life-questioning lectures and incomparable humor. But few are aware of what Martinez has been missing for the past 21 years of his life, or to be more precise, whom.

Martinez spent his summer preparing to present research to scholars in Okinawa, Japan which happens to be the birthplace of his mother. Although traveling across the world for business, Martinez will soon find the lost puzzle piece to his ancestry.

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Martinez and wife with Okinawa family.

It started at the beginning May with an invitation to the Fifth Annual Symposium on International Business and Social Science. The conference has always been in Japan but what caught Martinez’s attention was the exact city it was taking place in, Okinawa. Martinez was thrilled to finally have a perfect opportunity to reunite with his family that he hasn’t seen in 21 years. His last trip to Okinawa was with his mother and siblings in 1995; unfortunately, six months after the trip Martinez’s mother passed away. After her death, Gilbert lost all contact with his Japanese roots. “When it comes down to it, half of my life was empty for 21 years because we really just lost touch,” said Martinez. Gilbert knew the search for his family wasn’t going to be easy but with hard work and good friends he knew it was possible.

Martinez’s first thought was to contact some friends who lived in Tokyo; one personal friend and a Texas State University alumni who is a Tokyo correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. After a few online searches in Japan there were still no major leads. Martinez then went through a box of old papers and found his mother’s old address book that contained the names of his cousins and uncle. Although it seemed like a major breakthrough, the information fell short since his uncle had passed and all of his cousins were married women with new last names. The biggest clue was found by Gilbert’s sister in-law who had his mother’s old wallet. In the wallet was a card to a flower shop that his family worked at in Okinawa and is still a thriving business today. Even though the staff of the flower shop had no knowledge of Martinez’s family, they were determined to help find them. He sent a picture of his trip from 1995 to the employees with hopes that they would recognize at least one of his family members. It just so happened that one of Gilbert’s cousin Kiyomi was featured in the local paper for becoming the first female fire captain for the Okinawa City Fire Department. The flower shop employee showed up to the fire station, asked if she was the girl in the picture and it was a match! Kiyomi even expressed she had been searching for Gilbert and his siblings as well.

After spending a few days at the symposium, Gilbert was finally reunited with his family. Martinez was overjoyed to see his aunt Yoko, who was his mother’s only surviving sibling living in her 70’s. Through mannerisms, gestures and movements he saw so much of his mother in Yoko and the rest of his family. Martinez said, “My biggest take a way (from the trip) is the importance of family. Even when you lose touch, even after 21 years have passed, family is family; there is nothing like it in the world.”  Over two decades of separation and searching from both ends, Gilbert and his Japanese origins were joined once again.

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