Ann Lupo was just 23 years old when she encountered her first taste of unrequited love. After an incredible date with someone Lupo later fantasized about marrying, “as hopeless romantics do,” she was friendzoned. After what she described as an agonizing year of being no more than friends with the man she hoped to fall in love with her, Lupo went into a state of self-reflection.
“(I realized), ‘I need to wake up from whatever is going on right now,’” Lupo said in an interview with The Arbiter.
It was from this statement that Lupo’s first feature film, “In Reality,” was born. The autobiographical romantic comedy was screened as part of Filmfort, and closed out the final night’s festivities. Born as an idea for a short film, Lupo’s creation quickly grew into something bigger than she initially imagined. It was then that she recruited some of her classmates from New York University’s (NYU) film school to create the film that embodied her vision.
How Lupo ended up at NYU to begin with, however, is a different story. Not every great filmmaker will have the educational background to go with the final product, but Lupo decided from a young age that film school would be her future.
“I had always grown up making movies with my family,” Lupo said. “We would make these D-horror movies on our vacations, and I would edit them. That was when I decided I love this, I want to go to film school and be a director and a filmmaker. I went to film school, and I’ve learned from a lot of really great mentors along the way. Mostly, it’s just that I like making movies and it is my creative outlet. It’s what I know best.”
Lupo isn’t the only Filmfort director that got the education to match their goals –– for the most part. Tyler Taormina, director of opening night film “Ham on Rye,” studied at Emerson College for screenwriting with no intention to make movies. That changed, however, when he came up with the idea for his first feature film, which Taormina described as his love letter to the suburbs in which he grew up.
“I think film schools has two, maybe three big valleys,” Taormina said. “You really get all the shit out, all of the impulses that you will later be very embarrassed by and you get to watch other people do that, too. You don’t have to go to film school, obviously not. But if you do, you meet a lot of people that are going to help you out, and they’re going to be your friends, too. That’s the best combination for making a film.”
This opportunity, however, may not be as commonplace for those coming from schools with new or nonexistent film programs. Boise State, for example, has only recently adopted its film and television program, leaving it without the same resources as many bigger and more “prestigious” programs nationwide.
Senior theatre arts major, Jonah Leisure, knows this dilemma well. After recently creating and producing his own television show, “Something Eerie,” he described the excitement and struggle that comes with developing a project entirely on your own. Although Leisure had personal, family and some crew support, pioneering a series of what are essentially short films without being part of the new program was no simple task, albeit rewarding.
“The attitude that I kept in the remainder of my time is that I want to stay in theatre, but I wanted to create opportunities for myself in film,” Leisure said. “It’s kind of awkward when all of your friends are cast on the play, and you didn’t audition because you’re working on something that you are dealing with entirely by yourself. I’ve definitely come more into my own in the last year and a half. Being able to balance both of those sides has been really great.”
Even with a fresh program, Leisure believes that the key to creating a film or series with little resources is to stay dedicated and passionate about the project in question. Leisure described it as a chain effect, and knowing that one Boise State student is up to the task may mean that many others will follow in his footsteps.
Lupo, however, wants students to ensure they’re truly up for the task before starting on a passion project in the current industry.
“I don’t want to beat around the bush,” Lupo said. “I come from a ‘dream big’ background, and it was for sure the only way I could make this movie. I didn’t believe anything would stop me from making it, but I would say, from where I stand right now, I had to go through a lot of tempering my expectations. It is really, I like to say, both the hardest time to be an indie filmmaker, but also the best time because there are so many distribution resources. Be prepared if you really are dedicated to it.”