3/11/2016 Peter Durantine

One Film To Make (A Soap Parody)

Like their research film project, a soap-opera parody called "A Day in These Three Specific People's Lives," there have been some academic plot twists for seniors Tess Reinhold and Brian Billak.

Billak, a business organizations and society major with a film and media studies minor, found he greatly enjoys the creative side of filmmaking while Reinhold, a film and media studies major, found she much prefers the business producer end.

"That's what filmmaking is all about," said Jeremy Moss, assistant professor of film and media studies. "It’s a balance between the creative, logistics and production." 

The two seniors launched their project last September, after Reinhold had returned from internships in Australia, where she worked with production teams, and Hollywood, where she helped edit trailers to such films as "Jurassic World" and "Spotlight."

  • Seniors Tess Reinhold and Brian Billak have collaborated on a film project that parodies a number of soap operas. Seniors Tess Reinhold and Brian Billak have collaborated on a film project that parodies a number of soap operas. Image Credit: Deb Grove

They approached their project in much the same way Hollywood films are made – Billak wrote the script, then the two of them made revisions before putting out a casting call for three actors. Reinhold took the fourth role.

Their next step was assembling a small crew of six for lighting technician, camera operator, cinematographer and other duties. They used funds received from the Committee on Grants to rent a stabilization rig to keep the camera steady.

"I took more of a production role," Reinhold said. "I'm a film major, but I'm more interested in the marketing and business end of the film."

While Billak went behind the camera to direct, Reinhold has been putting together a marketing strategy with a media kit, advertising and posters.

"I've always loved film and the creative aspects of it," Billak said. "Through my four years at F&M, I just got more involved in it."

In their high school years, Reinhold made several films and Billak made one, but Reinhold grew more interested in the marketing and distributing end, and Billak found he enjoyed writing scripts.

Once the script, actors and crew were ready, and the shooting locations scouted – their apartments, the basement of Shadek-Fackenthal Library and The Other Room Theatre – Billak and Reinhold spent a February weekend filming.

"The film is a parody of many soap operas," Billak said. "We have a scene in there where our characters speak Spanish."

The final product is expected to be a 12-minute comedy that Billak and Reinhold hope will lead to future careers in filmmaking.

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