Brown Motion Pictures’s Spring Premiere is just around the corner. On April 24, 2016 from 6:30-8p.m. at the Avon Cinema on Thayer, BMP will present four student films: “Luke,” directed by John Fracasso ‘18; “Somewhere it is Spring,” directed by Annabelle de Gaudemar ‘17; “Breakup Diner,” directed by Alif Ibrahim ‘16 and Maria Paz Almenara ‘16; and “The Manor of Murder: A Manor Murder Mystery,” directed by fellow Blogger Naiyah Ambros ‘17. The Blognonian sat down with each director and got a sense of real “behind the camera” work from start to finish.
John Fracasso caught the film bug after stumbling upon the BMP table at the activities fair shortly after arriving at Brown as a freshman, has worked with BMP ever since in a variety of roles, and hopes to continue his work next semester as producer and Technical Director. “I’m going to work for BMP until I collapse or graduate,” said Fracasso. For his directing piece, Fracasso chose a “zombie script” out of a pool of student submissions.
“‘Luke’ is about a zombie apocalypse survivor who lost his boyfriend to the zombies,” Fracasso said. “Unable to let go, Sam, the protagonist, is living with a zombified Luke, trying to pretend as if things had not changed. He knows he should start to move on but wrestles with that decision.”
Fracasso found the most difficult part of the project the scheduling, and the easiest part the shooting of the film itself. “Once we got our people to set, we worked more efficiently than I could have hoped for,” he said. “Our shoots were the smoothest I’ve ever worked on and I have the amazing crew to thank for that.”
Annabelle de Gaudemar always felt the need to be creative – it wasn’t until working as an extra in Sofia Coppola’s Marie-Antoinette did she realize her preferred medium. “Since then, I’ve been pretty enamored with filmmaking,” de Gaudemar said. “My first BMP film was as a first-semester sophomore—it was just such a great environment. I love the crew and just being on set, and I’ve been involved with BMP ever since.”
Following the coming together of high school seniors Eliza and Amber as they both deal with their own trauma, “Somewhere it is Spring” features main themes of grief, friendship, and poetry – it is this which drew de Gaudemar to the film. “One of the characters barely ever speaks, so we really wanted to strip the film down as much as possible and focus on the relationship between the two main characters,” de Gaudemar said.
After the premiere of “Somewhere it is Spring” at Spring Premiere, de Gaudemar hopes to keep making more films. “It’s amazing how much you can learn from being on set and being surrounded by other filmmakers,” she said. “Every time I make a movie, I implement something I learned on another set, so the projects get better and better. I’m always excited to get started on new projects!”
Alif Ibrahim began working with BMP in the fall of 2012 as a freshman, and has been involved with the organization ever since. Ibrahim met Maria Paz Almenara through the Brown Political Review. “Then we got bored and curated video art with the help of BMP,” Ibrahim said.
In terms of directorial inspiration for the film, Almenara said “Don Glover is just generally an inspiration, but the real feelings came from the screenplay. We tried to do different things for each of them, and watched too many video essays for our own good. Alif also kept talking about The Devil Wears Prada throughout, so I’m sure that seeped in.”
When asked for a one-paragraph summary of “Breakup Diner”, Almenara said “Three couples break up in a diner.”
The duo had the privilege of working with several experienced crew members in Ian Garrity and C. Moor, a very qualified producer in Elizabeth Falkenberg, and a large number of first-timers who pulled their weight during the project.
“At times we were just hanging out eating Pringles on set ‘cause everyone knew what they needed to be doing,” Almenara said.
The duo believes “Breakup Diner” would be well-received by Brown audiences because the film captures relationships at times in life when “you really are only making decisions for yourself.” Almenara said, “If you’ve ever had to say goodbye to a friend that you cared about and felt that sense of something ending, then I think you’ll find a lot to identify with in the movie.”
Naiyah Ambros’s journey began with a long history of acting before arriving at Brown. “It didn’t take very long for me to get involved in theatre, but the film scene seemed a bit daunting to me,” Ambros said. After taking a few MCM classes, she decided to concentrate. “After co-creating a mini-documentary for a class last semester, I realized that film directing was something I was both interested in and thought I’d be good at,” she said.
Ambros’s film, “The Manor of Murder: A Manor Murder Mystery” (or “M5” as she calls it), plays on murder tropes in the goofiest way possible. “It all starts the same,” Ambros said. “A rich businessman, heir to some obscure corporate empire, decides to have a party in his old manor house. He invites his friends. His friends have secrets. One of his friends has a secret so big that it means said rich businessman needs to die.”
Ambros found that scheduling was the biggest challenge of the project, in addition to location scouting. However, shooting the project was a blast. “It’s so great to see a shot jump off the page, and then to watch it on camera,” she said. “The cast is hilarious and the film is pretty ridiculous which led to some pretty great on set antics.”
This summer, Ambros will be working for a production company in Los Angeles to learn more about film and television development. For now, though, she hopes that audiences will enjoy the ride of M5 and laugh along the way.
“I’m hoping that the film ends up somewhere between Scooby Doo and an Agatha Christie novel,” she said.
Go to the event page for trailers and ticketing for this year’s Spring Premiere selections.