Pictured: Concept art for Roy, by Joe Fifelski
–By Sam Hendrian–
“You shouldn’t dream your film, you should make it!” Such is the wisdom that legendary director Steven Spielberg imparts to all filmmakers, young and old. Here at JPCatholic, lots of young filmmakers take these words to heart and get busy turning their dreams into reality using the University’s resources. Until recently, school-owned equipment could only be used to make short films for a class or school-sponsored film festival. Now with the recent inauguration of Film Club by production professor George Simon, students can break free from this limitation and pursue even more projects.
Film Club imitates the real-world Hollywood studio procedure for getting a movie made. A student must first pitch her or his script or script idea to Professor Simon, who will then decide whether or not to green-light the movie based on the quality of the pitch, the feasibility of the project, and, most importantly, the richness of the story. Once given the green-light, the student will write the script if it is not already written and then finish assembling cast/crew members to bring the film to life.
There is a deadline for each film club project to be finished by, which is determined between the student and Professor Simon. Once the film is completed, it can be screened at one of the university film festivals and/or entered into an international festival. A few of the students who are currently working on film club projects are Sophia Flemings, Chris Weingart, myself, and Joseph Fifelski.
Sophia Flemings and Chris Weingart are currently developing a coming-of-age film with the working title, It’s Just a Phase, Mom. The log line is: “A coming-of-age story about Maive, a high school senior who is making her way through phases at the end of her high school years, shown through the eyes of her best friend Tim, who is along for the ride.” Sophia is co-writing with Chris and doing the cinematography, and Chris is directing. When asked why she wanted to tell this particular story, she said, “I wanted to make a coming-of-age story that’s really enjoyable to watch and that the audience wants to be a part of. I want it to be realistic, but I don’t want to be edgy. I’m in love with the characters right now, and I want the audience to be as well.” The project is currently still in the early stages of development; Chris and Sophia hope to pitch and then make it next quarter.
I am currently in post-production on a short film called Alone. Inspired by The Beatles’ song “Eleanor Rigby,” it tells the story of a young priest’s struggle to understand the enigma of his own loneliness after presiding over the empty funeral of a lonely elderly lady who choked to death unnoticed in the middle of a crowded cafe. My director of photography, Br. Dominic Smith (Order of St. Augustine), did a beautiful job with the cinematography. I had the pleasure of directing a delightful 96-year-old art teacher named Laura Glusha in the role of Eleanor Rigby, and I really enjoyed working with the talented Br. Sarfraz Alam in the role of Father Mackenzie. There are countless lonely people of all ages in the world who need us to reach out and love them, and my hope is that this film will give audiences a new awareness and concern for the lonely people in their lives.
Joe Fifelski is working on a science fiction drama called Roy. He explained, “[Roy] is about a young female A.I. robot that stumbles into the shop of a repairman. She is dying fast, as her heart is shutting down. The story ends with the twist of the repairman, Roy, replacing her heart with his.” He initially wrote the script for Professor Riley’s Writing Short-Form Cinema class in the fall quarter, and he conceived it in prayer: “The idea came to me while I was praying and thinking about people who don’t know how to pray, so I wrote the whole story as an allegory on the stages of prayer.” His main motivation for making the film is “to show that you can tell a biblical and deep story in an interesting way.” His crew so far consists of J.J. Schindler as head producer, Peter Mai as secondary producer, Anton Weidner as camera operator, and Lexi Lovetere on set decoration and props. He has not yet casted and will be continuing to fill more crew positions over the next quarter.
Besides the four of us, there are likely several other JPCatholic students who would love to make films as part of Film Club, and it will likely grow in future quarters. By experiencing a taste of the studio system and working on a deadline, students will be better prepared to enter the Hollywood filmmaking world upon graduation.
About the Author
Sam Hendrian is a student at John Paul the Great Catholic University (Class of 2019) pursuing a double emphasis in Screenwriting and Directing.