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‘Visitation’ explores the messiness, discomfort of grief

Student film adapts script from debut screenwriter Finn Blomquist Eggerling ’23.5

Screenwriter Finn Blomquist Eggerling ’23.5 wrote the script for "Visitation" as a means of finding a creative outlet to work through their personal experience with grief.

Courtesy of Tatiana Mandis
Screenwriter Finn Blomquist Eggerling ’23.5 wrote the script for "Visitation" as a means of finding a creative outlet to work through their personal experience with grief. Courtesy of Tatiana Mandis

On Thursday, May 4, students flocked to Avon Cinema to attend the Brown Motion Pictures spring premiere. Among the five fully student-made films was “Visitation,” written by Finn Blomquist Eggerling ’23.5 and directed by Tatiana Mandis ’23. 

The film follows the grieving Rex, played by Ari Cleveland ’25, who must give a speech at the visitation of their dead partner Phillip. During the speech, Rex memorializes Phillip by offering a detailed history of their relationship, flashing back to crucial moments in their time together. 

After the passing of a close friend and mentor in fall of 2021, Blomquist Eggerling turned to a playwriting class they were taking as a creative outlet to work through their pain. One of the plays that came from this period eventually turned into the script for “Visitation.” 

“I was really new to the style of grief (and) was unsure of how to process it,” Blomquist Eggerling said. Though they didn’t want to write specifically about their situation, writing from a “place of grieving” was an important part of Blomquist Eggerling’s healing process — and a central theme of the resulting script. 


Mandis could imagine the vision for the film as soon as she read Blomquist Eggerling’s screenplay. “The fact that I could visualize it so clearly gave me the confidence to apply for the role of director,” she wrote in a message to The Herald.

Cleveland echoed the sentiment that “Visitation” stuck out to them in particular when reviewing all of the film scripts. “It was such a good story,” they told The Herald. “I thought I should at least try to audition.”

For Mandis, open communication and collaboration were key to the success of the project. She explained that she and crew members met weekly to organize a schedule, and noted that her conversations with other members of the production team were especially helpful in her directing process.

“It was definitely all hands on deck from start to finish,” she wrote. 

Blomquist Eggerling also praised the collaborative nature of the production, adding that although the final product is not what they had originally expected when they wrote the script, the blend of interpretations from the rest of the team made it “so much better.”

“Like most creative processes, it really depends on the people you’re working with,” they said. Both Blomquist Eggerling and Mandis expressed gratitude for their team’s flexibility and openness to new ideas throughout the project.

Cleveland noted that conversations with Blomquist Eggerling were important to developing their portrayal of Rex, but added that they also did some independent research for the role.

“I watched a couple of sad movies,” they said. “Whatever I could find with somewhat of a sardonic character.” 

Cleveland strived to capture the “sad and solemn” emotions Rex is experiencing while “still keeping the wittiness of the character.” 

“Visitation” is Cleveland’s first project as a film actor — they had previously only been involved in theater and stage productions. Similarly, Blomquist Eggerling said “Visitation” was their first — and certainly not last — venture into screenwriting.


Blomquist Eggerling said that working on this project has helped them realize that they want to continue working professionally in the entertainment field after graduating this fall.

“Something that BMP does really well is position students to have successful engagements with film and TV later on,” they explained.

Mandis agreed, citing the built-in mentorship she had throughout her early experiences with the organization. “The wonderful thing about BMP is that while the Managing Directors are focused on having the organization produce 4 or 5 films each semester, they are even more focused on having the club serve as a resource for students,” she wrote.

Now that the film is completed, Blomquist Eggerling said they hope viewers will leave with a better understanding of the “messiness and (discomfort) of grieving” after watching.

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“Grief is messy,” and Blomquist Eggerling said they aimed to convey this nuance in the film. “There’s also a lot of happiness in it.”

Cleveland said they hope that audiences can connect with and learn from the “queer couple” at the center of the film, ideally walking away with a “more sensible understanding about the different complexities” of queer relationships.

“I’m really happy with the product that we created,” Cleveland said.

All five films produced by BMP this spring can now be streamed online.

Campbell Loi

Campbell Loi, a senior staff writer and copy editor for The Herald, is a junior from Syracuse, NY studying Public Health and International and Public Affairs. Outside of academics, she loves all things music and enjoys performing, arranging, and constantly listening to songs in her free time.


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