MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The second annual SOMA Film Festival promises to screen highly regarded, entertaining, and innovative films from local, domestic, international, and student filmmakers. The global entries will include Millburn High School (MHS) student Brendan Weissman.
Weissman, a senior, chose to look beyond MHS to display his work.
"I definitely wanted to find other film festivals in New Jersey, and be able to represent Millburn," said Weissman. "It's cool that we are going to a South Orange-Maplewood film festival and are able to represent our town and creativity."
The young filmmaker's "The Fountain Case," an honorable mention, follows a teen's quest to determine the arson of a beloved ice cream shop, as he plows through conspiracy, lies, and deception. The film, tagged as a drama with comedic elements, is based on The Magic Fountain ice cream store in Summit, which suffered significant fire damage in 2015.
Weissman was fortunate enough to be recognized for two of his films. In addition to "The Fountain Case," Weissman's masterpiece, "2:32," is one of only five narrative films screening on Saturday, the height of the film fest. "2:32" is the comedic tale of two seniors on the brink of graduation when an overdue library book stands between them and their diplomas. The pair journey through the entire school in search of the book.
"I wanted to make a film that was kind of like a love letter to Millburn High School,” said Weissman. “I wanted MHS to be a character in and of itself."
Both of these films feature fellow MHS Seniors Nick Ryan and Luke Wroblewski; both of whom annually star in school plays and Soulfege, MHS' a cappella group.
Although Weissman always had an appreciation for film, and excitement for the theater, his career as a filmmaker took off in his freshman year at MHS. As a freshman, he chose to enroll in Digital Video 1, an introductory level filmmaking elective. Weissman was immediately inspired by his teacher, Mr. Gabriel Rhodes.
"To see the passion that Mr. Rhodes has for this is just infectious," said Weissman. "It makes you want to do better as a filmmaker. That attitude that he brings every single day was very motivating and got me to where I am today. He has just done a lot for me throughout my high school career."
Weissman proceeded to enroll in Rhodes' advanced Digital Video class in each of his next three years, growing as a filmmaker, and honing his craft as a storyteller.
"The moment you realize that you just really have to just bring yourself into the storytelling process, it just makes it a lot easier,” Weissman said. “I think a lot of times when I'm writing my scripts, it's just really 'stream of consciousness,' and how I would talk in these situations, and what I would find funny. Overall, finding what's good about your personality, and injecting that into the story is what is important."
At the end of the school year, Weissman packs his bags for Chapman University, 45 minutes south of Hollywood, to study film production. He will undoubtedly bring his Phil Lord, and Chris Miller inspired style to the west coast.