Staples students put their cinematic talents into action

Emily Olrik and Sarah Sommer

A tripod teetered on the uneven dirt below, swaying slightly in the midnight breeze. The trees above supplied hardly any shelter against the rain, and Tova Byrne ’15 shivered violently in her light, damp jacket. Her knee stung – the recent slip she suffered while carrying equipment through the woods left the bottom of her favorite jeans ripped wide open and the skin there raw.

For some people, this may sound like a pretty awful evening, if not a scene from a bizarre horror movie.

However, for Byrne, along with many other filmmakers in the Staples community, it’s simply a part of a long but gratifying process.

“Everything you do [in filmmaking] is crazy rewarding, but getting there is almost always a beautiful struggle,” Byrne said.

The first step to making a film is getting inspired. Student filmmakers have many different outlets for inspiration.

“I generally get my inspiration from music. I tend to choose the theme or mood of my movie based on the music I’m currently listening to,” Emma Cataldo ’16 said.

Cataldo recently produced a film called “Dream, Believe, Inspire” all based off of one song. “I used a song called “Welcome Home” by a band called Radical Face to show how young teens have dreams of becoming great athletes and artists,” Cataldo said. She wanted to capture the “whimsical, happy and homey” feeling of the music and convey it throughout her film.

Byrne gets most of her inspiration from people-watching. “I am fascinated by people,” she said. “Everyone’s got a story to tell and layers to their own character.”

Johnny Donovan ’17, however, prefers to take a more collaborative approach when brainstorming ideas. He finds that the best way to create a story is to start with any idea, good or bad, and tweak it until it becomes something that he and his group members want to create. This is a technique he has spent the past two years perfecting in narrative film, one of the many media classes offered at Staples.

“[One time in narrative film class] we started with an idea of a PSA and a person looking at her phone, and everything around her was moving really quickly as time is passing by, and then that turned into a story about a pen that fast forwards time,” he said.

For Sam Kann ’16 the process of making her currently untitled movie began with a vision.

“I had one shot in my head and I made a story around it,” she said. “I had the idea of someone walking in the middle of a road, closing their eyes and then having a close up shot of car lights and then the screen going black.”

Jim Honeycutt, a media teacher at Staples, knows that it takes dedication, as well as natural talent, to make a film. “[Making films] is hard,” Honeycutt said. “Everybody can grab a camera and hit the record button, everybody can edit video, but to make a video that really works is a rare gift.”

According to Honeycutt, there are generally only a small handful of Staples students at any given time who excel at filmmaking.

However, these student filmmakers take creative control when developing and shooting their films – the teachers are just along for the ride.

“I don’t take any credit for any of these kids’ skills. All we do is we stand by the side to answer questions and encourage them, but the genius, their genius, comes from within,” Honeycutt said.