Posts Tagged ‘Penelope’

Student Film Screenings Unite, Excite

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

(far R) Scarlett wrote/directed Penelope; Laura wrote/directed/sang Rockstars; Malcom produced Fitz; while Sorrelle (far L) acted in Dead Serious. Courtesy photo.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

I like coming to opening nights. Everything is always edgy and raw. Bugs need to be worked out, things don’t always go the right way, but there’s an electricity in the air. You were there and You Saw it First.

Friday night was Opening Night of the Film Screenings at Idyllwild Arts. There were four shorts and one super-short, or a 3-2-1. The short films included: “Penelope,” “Fitz,” “Dead Serious” and “Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience,” all created by women writer-directors. And the super short was entitled, “Bonding at Breakfast.”

You gotta love the Film Department at Idyllwild Arts. They really “roll out the red carpet” for these films. While people are standing in line, they’re treated to exceptional jazz music from the Jazz Department, stand on a red carpet and buy standard concessions, which includes popcorn, pop and chocolates. Proceeds go to help fund an upcoming film trip to Ethiopia.

If you’re planning on going to Saturday nights’ Film Screening, plan to come 30 minutes early. No kidding, it’s essential to stand in line to get a seat, or you’ll be standing in the back row. As you head down the hallway towards the theater,  try not to pick your nose or say anything embarrassing because “You’re on Candid Camera!”

(from L) Giovanna and many of the other dance students were extras in the films

Things went reasonably well for Opening Night. There was a schedule change. “Penelope” would be the first film, followed by “Fitz.” After intermission, “Dead Serious” would be first, and then Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience.”

Because it was unexpected, “Bonding Over Breakfast,” a short short (or 3-2-1) by Alexa, was delightful. Like getting a free bon-bon. It featured Melanie, a Theater major, as the mother, and a young girl as her daughter. All I can say is that girl was wonderful, bright and wise beyond her years.

Melanie, a theater major, plays a single mom in Alexa's short, "Bonding Over Breakfast"

“Penelope,” written and directed by Scarlett, actually started out as a conversation with her father as they were listening to the song, “Penelope” on the radio.

“This would make a good movie,” both had agreed. Fast forward six months, and Scarlett’s father is gone, but not the dream for the movie. In short, it’s gonna be a tear jerker.

Set in WWII, Penelope, a nightclub singer, meets Elijah, and falls in love. Then Pearl Harbor is attacked, and the U.S. enters the war. Elijah leaves in full uniform, and Penelope’s world crumbles.

All I can say is that 20 minutes of “Penelope” is not long enough. I could have used about 20 minutes more. It was romantic, tragic and beautifully acted and filmed.

(from L) Michel, Peter and Harold all played extras in the films. Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

Scarlett made a good choice in selecting Paley as her lead and Analia Lenchantin,a classical pianist and actor from Argentina who now lives in Idyllwild.

As Penelope, Paley’s voice sounds like it’s whiskey and cigarette tainted. Her face expresses every complicated emotion. However, we wouldn’t expect anything less. Paley’s got good genes. Her mother is a famous comedic actress in Mexico.

If Scarlett decides to expand “Penelope” into a feature film, it has my vote.

A lot of the other students thought “Fitz” was the best film of the night.

“It had everything,” exclaimed Benny, a classical music major. “The story was great, and the lighting and the cinematography were spectacular!”

Benny was seated next to Andrew Leeson, a Creative Writing staff member, who agreed.

“Yep, that’s the one,” Andrew said.

“Fitz,” was written by Brit, produced by Malcom, filmed by Kai and edited by Paris.

In his opening remarks, Malcom gave the audience part of the back story.

(from L) Three for "Fitz," including Malcolm as producer, Kai as cinematographer, Gabby as lead actor. Sorrelle (far R) acted in "Dead Serious" Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts

“Brit brought Kai and I the script, and said that she had written it over the summer and wanted us to take a look,” Malcom said.

They did, and told Ira Abrams about it, who agreed it was a gem.

Fitz, short for Fitzgerald, is a co-ed boarding school, much like Idyllwild Arts. The only exception is the uniforms. “Fitz” centers on one newcomer, (exceptionally portrayed by Michael Minor, a classical bass player).

It’s hard to imagine that Michael Minor was just a bass player, until this movie came along. He had never acted before, and to take the lead was nothing short of astounding. Some people are just natural actors, and Michael is one of them.

(from R) Brooke (shown with actor Joe Spano) plays the lead in Ellen's movie,"Dead Serious." Courtesy photo.

Anyway, the story is about students who overcome an overbearing headmaster and take over the school. The cast of local talent shines, including headmaster.

“Dead Serious,” is a female teen angst film, complete with mean girls and a tragedy.

“It’s a black comedy,” Andrew Leeson explained, as  I complained that the mother was so callous.

Brooke was spectacular as the nice girl who gets bullied. Like Greta Garbo, the camera loves her face.

Madi, a Creative Writing major, was good as the Mean Girl. All of us have been bullied some time in our youth. Hats off to Sorrelle, one of Madi’s friends, who continually “hisses” at Brooke, like a pissed-off cat.

“Rockstars: The Pete Weaver Experience,” the fourth and final show, features a young boy who dreams of becoming a rock star. Hard to imagine the script from this show was originally about a poet who sent off his poems into the universe via helium balloons.

(from L) Melanie and Brit, who wrote and directed "Fitz." Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

In the storyline. a young writer is at odds with his father who owns a Camero body shop. More than anything, he’d rather be writing and playing rock songs. Naturally, his dad wants him to focus on the task at hand.

However, when Pete has a chance to meet one of his rock star idols (played by dance instructor Jonathan Sharp), he takes a risk that changes his outlook.

It should be pointed out that Conor O’Farrell, an accomplished TV, film and screen actor, plays an exceptional grease monkey father. He notes his son’s artistic dreams, and makes a deal that could help him.

Laura wrote and sang songs for her film, "Rockstars: The Pete Weaver Experience." Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

Writer-director Laura, not only plays his onscreen love interest, but also writes and records songs. In essence, “Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience” is about her, and other songwriters, trying to make their mark on the world.

In short, the four, shorts shown at the Idyllwild Arts’ “Film Screenings 2011” are outrageous, funny and dramatic. They will make you laugh, cry and left longing for more!

Saturday night’s Student Film Screenings starts at 7:30 p.m. at the IAF Theater on campus. All shows are free and open to the public. Arrive early to get a good seat.

For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved. Photos courtesy of Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Published on: May 28, 2011 @ 8:47

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Weekend Release of Four Student Films

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Laura wrote and directed the film, "Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience" and even wrote two of its songs.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

This weekend will showcase four short films created by the Idyllwild Arts Film Department.

It is a year’s worth of hard work writing, directing, casting, filming, scoring, and editing.

“It’s a running joke on campus that the film students never get to see the light of day,” one film student said.

Yet, it’s also the year in which all four films were written and directed by women. (Although this may be remarkable in Hollywood, in which men tend to dominate, the ratio of women to men on the Idyllwild Arts campus is about four to one.)

The four films featured include: “Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience,” written and directed by Laura; “Dead Serious,” written and directed by Ellen; “Penelope,” written and directed by Scarlett, and “Fitz,” written and directed by Brit.

The films, ranging from 15 to 21 minutes each, are as diverse as the students who created them.

“I’m glad that I was first to shoot my film this year,” Laura said of “Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience.” “That way, I could take my time to finish and edit it the entire year.”

Laura not only wrote and directed the film about a lovestruck rock star, but also wrote the music score for two of its songs. Last year, she wrote and sang in one film and acted in another. In fact, her 2010 single, “Time Bomb,” is also featured on iTunes.

It’s not unusual for a script to go through many changes over the course of the school year, especially when others get involved and offer their opinions. Originally, “Rock Stars” was written about a guy who wrote poems and sent them sailing into the universe via helium balloons. However, along the way, Laura decided that a quiet boy and balloons wouldn’t make a good movie.

The poet turned into a rock star, featuring one of the school’s ballet instructors.

“Jonathan Sharp is perfect for the role,” Laura said. “He’s good looking and gregarious. He’s the ultimate rock star.”

Luckily, the 30 film students can draw from many talent resources, including student actors, dancers and musicians, who are willing to work for free to be in a movie.

C.D. sported just boxer briefs when trying out for the 'psycho' role for Brit's film, "Fitz"

Although Laura’s film changed a lot over the course of the year, Brit’s film, “Fitz,” did not. It’s about a prep school in which some of the students take over the school. “Fitz” is short for “Fitzgerald,” the name of the school, but the title could be ambiguous on purpose.

C.D., a musical theater major, was eager to try out.

“My role in ‘Fitz’ was to basically play a ‘psycho,'” C.D. said.

To nab the role, C.D. knew that he had to pull out all the stops. He had to make a lasting impression on the casting crew.

“I showed up in my underwear!” he exclaimed.

They were boxer briefs, actually, and C.D. also had on a navy blue preppy blazer and shoes.

“We couldn’t stop laughing,” Kai recalled of C.D.’s audition. “His clothing choice was ingenious, but he won us over by his dialogue.”

Kai, who won acclaim for his lighting of “The Other Side,” a dramatic short film from 2010, was dumbfounded to discover that lighting for dramas and comedies is not the same.

“I was surprised that Brit challenged and changed my lighting choices,” Kai recalled the early days on the set. “But she was right. I had to rethink my style from drama to comedy.”

Film students like Alexa, shown with film wheel, work hard all year long. Alexa worked on a 3-2-1 short.

From casting to filming on location, the film students don’t leave out any details. Case in point: Ellen needed a photo for her poster for “Dead Serious,” so she and her crew went to a cemetary in San Jacinto, near Hemet.

“The story’s about a girl who gets bullied in school,” Ellen said, trying not to give too much away. “But someone ends up dying.”

Ellen, Alyssa and Brooke, a musical theater major who plays the lead in the film, all went to take pictures among tombstones. Even during the day, the location was a bit spooky. During the shoot, Brooke gave a mocking smile.

Could they have grabbed a tombstone from the internet and PhotoShopped it in? Sure, but it wouldn’t have been the same. If you knew these Idyllwild Arts film students, you’d know they never take short cuts. They continue long into the night, if that’s what it takes.

Just this past Sunday, Scarlett was putting the finishing touches on “Penelope,” a romantic period piece set in Mexico. Four jazz music students followed Scarlett to a local recording studio on Sunday evening to record a song. They worked from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., breaking only once for pepperoni pizza.

Anna or “Paley,” a post grad theater major from Mexico, plays the female lead. It was the first film she had starred in, and a welcome project at the end of the year. Acting comes naturally for the 18-year-old whose mother is a famous comedic actor in Mexico.

“She was perfect for the role,” Scarlett said.

It wasn’t easy for Scarlett to watch Paley kissing her boyfriend. But it was all for the movie’s sake. You see, Scarlett’s boyfriend, Austin, plays Paley’s love interest.

“Whenever we’d kiss on the set, I’d look over at Scarlett, and she’d be turning her head,” Paley said jokingly.

“Rock Stars,” “Dead Serious,” “Penelope” and “Fitz” promise an evening’s worth of comedy, passion and intrigue this Memorial Day Weekend. Shows start at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the IAF Theater (located in the Bowman building). Shows are free and open to the public, but come early to get a good seat.

For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171. Some film trailers may appear Friday on You Tube.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved. Most photos courtesy of Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Published on: May 25, 2011 @ 2:07