Thayer’s iconic Avon Theater was packed Sunday night as filmmakers, friends and film-enthusiasts gathered for Brown Motion Pictures' spring premiere of four short student films that the organization produced over the spring semester. The event marked the third consecutive semester that BMP’s biannual premiere showed at the single-screen cinema.
This spring’s four student films were selected over winter break from a pool of over 70 submitted screenplays. The chosen screenplays were then paired with a director and crew, then casted for production.
Two of the four films — “Breakup Diner” and “Luke” — were written by Marcelo Rivera-Figeuroa ’18. The other two films, “The Manor of Murder: A Manor Murder Mystery” and “Somewhere it is Spring,” were written by Ali Murray ’18 and Laura Kenney ’19, respectively.
The four films ran the gamut from tragedy to humor and even included some horror.
Both “Breakup Diner” and “Luke” feature romantic storylines with a hint of comedy. The former, directed by Maria Paz Almenara ’16 and Alif Ibrahim ’16 — the first co-directed BMP film — features three vignettes of differing romantic breakups, all filmed in the familiar scene of Louis diner.
The film centers around the idea of “saying goodbye in college” to relationships, both romantic and not romantic, Ibrahim said.
“It’s about having to make decisions for yourself and not really being able to — at this point in your life — do things for other people,” Almenara said. “I think we agree that college is a little bit of a selfish time for everyone.”
With the goal of capturing the woes of undergraduate relationships, Almenara and Ibrahim interviewed their cast members about their backgrounds and views on relationships prior to shooting. Despite the film’s more somber notes, the two co-directors said they worked on keeping the piece lighthearted and reflective, rather than allowing it to go down a darker path.
Screenwriter Rivera-Figueroa strikes a similar tone in his second screenplay “Luke,” directed by John Fracasso ’18. The most fantastical of the four films, “Luke” features a man who loses his boyfriend to the zombie apocalypse and favors to keep him in his life as a zombie rather than have him exterminated.
Fracasso was originally attracted to the film for its quirky, zombie-centric plot, he said. Though originally tempted to give the film a more humorous twist, Fracasso said that, after conversations with Rivera-Figueroa, the two elected to make the piece more serious, allowing much of the comedy to come from the inherent humor of zombies.
The on-screen zombie Luke happens to be played by a student of the same name, Luke Perrotta ’19.
There is “something inherently funny in Luke (Perotta) as a zombie,” Fracasso said. “He does a good job in it, and there are a couple lightly humorous moments.”
While both “Breakup Diner” and “Luke” invoke lighthearted tones, the most overtly humorous film of the evening was “The Manor of Murder: A Manor Murder Mystery.” Directed by Naiyah Ambros ’17, the film is a camp take on a “Clue”-style murder mystery dinner shot at Machado House.
The film centers around the murder of businessman Cad Aver at a dinner party he is hosting for his friends, leaving them to determine who among them is guilty of poisoning their host.
The most somber film of the night was “Somewhere it is Spring,” directed by Annabelle de Gaudemar ’17. The film tells the story of Eliza, who becomes mute after her father commits suicide. It is only through a burgeoning friendship with Amber, also experiencing trouble at home, that Eliza begins to heal.
The four diverse films premiered to applause and enthusiasm from the audience, as many crew members watched their completed efforts for the first time.
But one of the most rewarding parts of the premiere is being able to show people outside the BMP community the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, said Frida Perez ’17, a managing director for BMP. The event is an opportunity to show “that people at Brown are passionate about filmmaking and about making really great short films,” she said.
“It’s just about exposing other people to all the hard work and all the really, really awesome talent that is here,” added Eddie Mansius ’17, another of BMP’s managing directors.