Sophomore Film Production Coalition Releases 11 Short Films in Successful First Year of Shooting
Of the many qualities that define Wesleyan students, passion for the arts will always rank high. Time and time again, students from all backgrounds and disciplines showcase their love of theater, dance, music and painting far beyond the boundaries of their courses. The Sophomore Film Collective follows in that tradition, thanks to the efforts of Alice Lee ’14 and Samuel Gilberg ’14 earlier this year.
“I had the idea to start this group last summer—just a group of sophomores who wanted to make a movie,” Gilberg said. “There was an overwhelmingly positive response from film students who wanted to be a part of it, so that really helped motivate me and speed the process along.”
“It’s a bit like Second Stage, but for film,” member Amanda Sonnenschein ’14 said.
In the fall, the group began writing individual stories for their films, which focused on the idea of transitions, a concept collectively settled on at the very beginning of the year. By winter break, each member had created a solid script for a short film. In the winter, students began filming their individual movies as well as working as extras and aids for films by other members.
“I worked on maybe three or four films,” Sonnenschein said. “You have so many talented people as resources here at Wesleyan. You don’t get that environment once you leave.”
Because of the size of the group and the limited equipment available to them (Peter Conforti ’14 explained that the group had two cameras to pass around), the Coalition members never took themselves too seriously.
“At the end of the day, we’re just kids making movies,” Conforti said. “We try to take it as seriously as we can, but at the same time, it’s just a lot of fun. You learn a lot about the process and about working with a crew, and there doesn’t seem to be any harm in that. We all just think it’s better to do something than to do nothing at all.”
“You also just become really close,” Sonnenschein stressed. “We’ve all taken film classes together and we’ve all studied for those tests together, so we definitely have a sense of community.”
“The best thing about the group is we’re all equal players,” he said. “Even though I came up with the idea and Alice heads it with me, all of us are directors, each with the mission of creating a short film. It was a really democratic process, which I think is sometimes really hard to pull off in a creative environment.”
“The closeness really helps with the filmmaking,” explained Conforti. “It was really helpful to have people to bounce ideas off of.”
Next Saturday, the Coalition will be debuting its pieces in the Film Hall screening room, which will showcase their dedication as well as the variety of films they managed to produce.
“In terms of influences, you have everything from ‘Mad Men’ to raunchy sex comedies to ‘Moulin Rouge’ to quirky romantic comedies,” said Conforti, explaining that he himself chose to work from the clarity and simplicity he saw in Pixar shorts.
On the other side of the spectrum, Sonnenschein’s film deals with issues of rehabilitation and connection, following a recovering brain-damaged convalescent as he makes orange juice for his ailing caretaker, reflecting on their experiences together in the process. Gilberg’s piece deals with a candlelit interaction between two hallmates during a blackout, each sharing their own unique insecurities over the course of the evening.
“The blackout definitely influenced a lot of us,” explained Conforti. “Especially because that was when we were all writing our scripts.”
Another member, Leah Khambata, has created a film based around a couple struggling with who will be the first to say “I love you.”
On the whole, the Coalition stands as a testament to the artistic core of Wesleyan’s student body, the intelligence and excitement with which students choose to display their various talents. And yet these film students are far from self-important.
“We’re definitely trying to be humble,” Gilberg said. “That’s very important to us. Ultimately, we’re just amateur filmmakers. But at the same time, this is something that means a lot to everybody who’s doing it.”