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You may have noticed over the past week a group of young adults wandering around Monticello, heavy cameras in hand, spying on our most famous buildings and businesses. These curious visitors are not tourists but a group of film students affiliated with the FSU College of Motion Picture Arts (FSU CMPA). This group consists of six juniors and nine seniors from the program, and each student works on a graduation film as part of their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
So far in this production cycle for this thesis, four short films have been shot at local locations in Monticello, including a house on Pearl Street, Curtis Morgan’s garage and the well-known Monticello Opera House.
For their current film project, the 15 students are making a film called Make Them Laugh about a vaudeville variety show starring Georgie, a clown who is also a classically trained theater actor. When Georgie is unlucky enough to make people laugh at his own expense, he must find the courage to step on the gas and rebel against his boss, Bertram.
Producer Hollis Rosenkranz says the community of Monticello is a prime filming location, not only for the beauty and history associated with the town, but also because the residents and businesses are accommodating to the film crews.
“Monticello has so many unique buildings and architecture,” says Rosenkranz, “and because every corner of the city is steeped in history, no matter which way we point the camera, the frame looks beautiful! Aside from its inherent beauty, the community of Monticello gave us students such a warm welcome. It’s very difficult to find small companies to film with; As college film students, we cannot provide compensation. But the town of Monticello and those who own businesses there have been so kind, trusting and generous. We really couldn’t be making films here at FSU without the help of the Monticello and Tallahassee communities.”
Even given the charm of the local architecture available for filming, there is more to consider when choosing a suitable filming location than just aesthetics. Rosenkranz says a film crew must consider a variety of other factors when choosing a location. Factors such as driving distance, animal hazards, water hazards, access to power, proximity to restrooms and crew safety are all weighed in going through the selection process. A crew of 15 is expected to be on location for approximately 13 hours, and each location must be able to accommodate a crew of this size while working without endangering their health or safety.
“Location scouting takes a lot of time and diligence,” says Rosenkranz. “One thing we learn in film school is that sometimes a location is beautiful from the outside but can have a lot of logistical problems even though it looks beautiful on the outside.”
If you’ve seen the film crew drive around town with film gear, that’s exactly what they do. The crew has been hard at work this week finding the perfect location to film parts of their project. And they seem to have found what they were looking for as they will be filming at the Monticello Opera House this weekend, November 12-14.
While this group of students works on this project as part of their college course, these students are passionate artists who are dedicated to the delicate nature of high-quality filmmaking. They know that a good film doesn’t start with a great camera or even the perfect setting, but has to start with a story.
“FSU Film School prides itself on being story-driven,” says Rosenkranz. “First and foremost, as students, we are taught to look for stories anywhere and everywhere. After all, that’s the most important thing about the art of filmmaking: telling stories. Filmmaking incorporates almost every other art form into its finished product. Films allow so many unheard or underrepresented stories to be shared and told globally, and enable collaborations between artists from states, countries and around the world.”
All of the students currently working in this film crew are majoring in film production, most of whom hope to enter the film industry upon graduation. This means that some of the students you saw scouting for the best filming locations this week might just be the next big film producer, director or editor. While we all easily recognize names like Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, and M. Night Shyamalan, all of these household names were once unfamiliar and brand new. Here are the names of the current film crew who will be filming this weekend; Keep an eye out for their names on the big screen – who knows what the future holds for them!
The FSU Thesis Film Crew “Make Them Laugh”:
• Hollis Rosencrantz, Producer (Senior)
• Landon Watford, Director (senior)
• Tristan Owen, cinematographer (senior)
• Beatriz Arrocha-Lanzas, Production Designer (Senior)
• Thomas McDonald, First Assistant Director (Senior)
• Sam, Second Assistant Director (Junior)
• Ryan, Artistic Director (Junior)
• Thomas, Script Supervisor (junior)
• Omar, 1st camera assistant (senior)
• Maci, 2nd Camera Assistant (Junior)
• Ryan, Keyhold (Senior)
• Kendall, Best Grip (Junior)
• Valerie, Gaffer (Senior)
• Luca, sound engineer (senior)
• Amal, Boom Operator (Junior)
“Movies,” Rosenkranz reflects, “whether the audience is fully aware of the blood, sweat, tears, and cups of coffee that went into the finished product, brings together the people behind the camera, on the screen, and in the audience. Film’s innate ability to bring people together isn’t usually the first thing that springs to mind for most moviegoers or enthusiasts. But as film students, that meaning is what brought us together in the first place. It is quite literally an example of how people from across the country and around the world are brought together through the film.”
The movie magic is set to happen this weekend, and after filming wraps up, the editing process will begin. The dissertation films will be processed during the spring semester and will be completed in time for graduation in May. After the screening, the films are shown in a film festival, which usually ends after about two years. After the films have been screened at the film festival, they can be publicly streamed and viewed through platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo.
The Make Them Laugh FSU Thesis Film Crew would like to thank the community for their support and lodging during their scouting and filming process.
“Thank you to the Monticello Community for all of your help with our projects over the years,” says Rosenkranz on behalf of the crew. “Your dedication to helping us growing filmmakers produce our products is a gift we don’t take for granted, and that’s why we keep coming back to your city from project to project. Many Thanks.”
The film crew is always looking for extras for their films, like-minded people who can hone their craft or are masters of their craft. This includes musicians who want to write music for films or even makeup artists who are thinking of doing film makeup. The crew looks forward to working with people in and around Tallahassee on their projects. If anyone is interested in being an extra during filming November 12-14, contact Hollis at firstname.lastname@example.org.