The Filmmaking Club: A Hands-On Filming Experience


Margaret Hodson

By Noah Michalski ’18, Contributor

Have you ever wondered what it is like to make a movie? This is what Vincent DiFrancesco ‘18 had in mind when he decided to create the Filmmaking Club. Filming has always been one of his interests, and since the school offers no film classes or similar opportunities, DiFrancesco decided to offer one himself. The Filmmaking Club offers hands-on experience in writing a movie script, using film equipment, and acting in drama-based films.

The first and most important part of making a film is deciding on a topic for the script. DiFrancesco recalled, “Getting the ball rolling with the story of the film was probably the hardest part of the process.” By the second meeting, ideas were already being debated by the club members. The film immediately steered away from any action-adventure themed idea towards something more dramatic. Since the club has no budget other than DiFrancesco’s own pocket money, there was no possibility for the explosions and fight scenes that drive many modern blockbusters. “As micro-budget filmmakers or greatest asset is the story we convey… our strength comes from the way we convey ideas to the audience and cause them to think differently about the environment or subject matter.” Group discussions about the topic continued for almost two months before a satisfactory topic was formed. “I wanted this to be a group project… where each member had a voice. So we brainstormed for at least a month and a half before we had anything substantial to work with.” After the club decided on the initial topic, an official scriptwriting committee was formed. The committee met afterschool to write the script bit by bit. In addition, regular club meetings allowed members to not only read the slowly forming script but also help influence it with their ideas. Since the first complete version, the script has gone through 8 different iterations and continues to be edited even during filming.

Auditions for actors only began once the scriptwriting committee had a “finished” script with a coherent story. Actors who showed up performed both a small narrative of their selection and a set part of the script as the character they chose. Originally, club members would have voted for actors based on the part auditioned for, similar to student council elections; since so few actors auditioned – 6 actors for 4 main roles – members instead chose which one they believed would portray each main part best. Once actors had been chosen, scheduling for filming began. Scheduling is very difficult any time of year due to conflicting appointments and such. Supporting actress Ms. Deborah Floyd said, “It’s hard when everyone has such packed schedules.  Accommodations and delays are inevitable.”

Once scheduled, filming itself is the most fun part of making a movie. One of the best parts of filming is the hands-on experience. Shaan Dahar ‘18, one of the secondary camera operators, said “the experience did not disappoint. I’ve never felt so in control like I do when holding the camera.” For most of the crew this was a first-time experience. DiFrancesco admitted “things like the set-up time and blocking with actors, conveying my plan for the day to the crew, and making our incentives clear… kind of caught me by surprise.” Set-up especially took longer than anticipated. Additionally, the amount of takes it took to get a scene just right was unbelievable. Filming was filled with all sorts of technical errors, collisions, forgotten lines, and ridiculous improvising, most of which lead to some hilarious behind-the-scenes shots. DiFrancesco recalled, “The experience is a lot of fun for everyone… there’s no doubt we have a lot of laughs in between takes.”

The Filmmaking Club is currently filming this year’s movie, which is set to debut at Evening of the Arts, with a possible second showing at an assembly afterwards. After this film is finished, preparations for next year will begin. Anybody wishing to join the club is strongly encouraged. Next year DiFrancesco will continue leading the Filmmaking Club. “This club has become a major part of my life… it has been a wonderful experience this year and I hope to continue it.”