Local filmmaker produces first feature film
By Zenya Molnar, Contributing Writer
Northborough – For Northborough native Brian Chick, filmmaking is an art. Chick, who graduated from Ithaca College in May with a B.S. in cinema and photography, is pursuing his interest in cinema production through the creation of his first feature film. The producer and director of Chick Flick Pictures, Chick first developed his passion for film while attending a two-week intensive filmmaking program at Algonquin Regional High School.
The 2009 ARHS graduate, said that the best way to learn about filmmaking is to watch movies and “be an observer anywhere in the world.” His statement is mirrored in his experience shooting “The Oneironaut,” pronounced “oh-nigh-row-knot” and means “one who travels their dreams.” Whether there is a “happy accident” – an unexpected event that occurs that is an asset to the film – or a problem with the camera, there is something to be gained.
What originally started as a thesis in collaboration with Elli Hartig, a fellow graduate of Ithaca College, has turned into a feature length film. He called the style “imaginative realism” because the film is about himself and Hartig, as they are the only two actors, but it is not completely factual.
“That’s what I love about filmmaking and expressing myself through this art form because you don’t really have to choose,” Chick said. “It’s about everything.”
“The Oneironaut” is an “environmentally charged” film, according to Chick, that explores the snowy winter in New England in Part One and the desert in Tucson during the summer in Part Two. The characters try to live sustainably in the environment, or “off the grid.”
“The main theme is us as human beings coexisting with the environment,” Chick said, adding that film is an individual experience from which he wants people to create their own meaning.
The installations in the film, of which there are three, are based half in reality and half in dreams. They are designed by Hartig, a biochemist and installation artist. They provide a bit of structure to the film; for example, in Part One, 33 milk-pod lanterns were used in the woods and, in Part Two, structures made out of aluminum flashing that mimic prickly pear cacti were used.
“In filmmaking, so many things can go wrong. It’s really good to be able to roll with the punches,” Chick said.
This is especially significant since he was shooting in different environments using a limited amount of film on a small budget. Using film makes you very disciplined because you can shoot less on film cameras than on digital.
“You have to know exactly what you want. I like things to be a very specific way. It takes time and I like that [about film],” Chick explained.
The stark contrast between New England and the desert in Arizona lend to the theme of “finding your nest,” as Chick called it. “You don’t know what the environment looks like—how it looks through a lens—until you’re at a location and shooting.”
In the film, it turns out that Arizona is not the right environment for the characters.
Chick, who had not been to Tucson in many years, was able to look at it with a renewed perspective. Many scenes were taken from the car, and Chick had his first opportunity to fly in a small Beech Baron plane where he captured aerial shots. His favorite shooting location was 9,100-foot Mount Lemmon, the southernmost ski resort in Arizona. Located in Saguaro National Park, the only green desert in the world, Mount Lemmon provided a “real escape” for Chick who enjoyed the mountainous landscape along with saguaro cacti and pine trees.
Chick plans to enter “The Oneironaut,” which is about 80 minutes in length and contains five to seven minutes of dialogue, into film festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, and Rotterdam. He has already submitted two other short films to festivals and has ideas for a few other feature films that he hopes to create. Chick and Hartig would also like to offer private screenings for supporters from their crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo, a website that provides a place for filmmakers to raise money for their projects.
Chick sees himself pursuing independent filmmaking as a career.
“It’s something I have an impulse to do,” he said.
In contrast to his latest production, Chick would like to work with scripts, structure, and a crew in the future, as it is difficult to manage everything, including the acting, camera, and cinematography with two people. Chick described the filming of “The Oneironaut” as “an art within itself” because the approach is without assumption, therefore “very intuitive.”
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