By: Stef Chow
Books to Films is a semester long course at East Greenwich High School taught by Mr. DeCubellis. What separates this class from other English courses is the large project that the students take on. In small groups, students undergo the process of taking a short story, adapting it into a screenplay, and delegating roles and responsibilities among group members. Throughout the semester, the students from Room 211 produce a short film that they will debut to a live audience. In fact, this debut took place on Thursday, January 18th. Five original films were shown in East Greenwich High School’s own auditorium, accompanied by refreshments and a short question and answer portion.
The first film of the night was Kenopsia, the work of Gabe Densley, Hap Peltz, Michael McEwen, Finn Osterhout, and Sam Comito. These five boys clearly worked hard to produce their film as they revealed that they went through hours of filming for only minutes of footage, with large amounts of this filming happening at 1AM. Despite this, the boys must’ve found some enjoyment in the process as Hap Peltz shared, “It was fun. I would do it again.” Perhaps this was due to the amount of pizza that was consumed, as this group thanked Domino’s Pizza in the final credits of their film. When asked why, they responded, “They fed us constantly.”
Following this film was the product of Alivia Saunders, Shannon Lake, Molly Miranda, Josh Fazio, and Jeffery Pedersen. Their film, entitled The Longest Mile, starred Lake as the main character, with Miranda as this character’s best friend. This worked out due to the off-screen friendship between these two girls. As a matter of fact, an audience member asked Shannon Lake if it was difficult being so mean to one of her best friends, as the two characters had conflict in this film. Shannon replied that it was not too difficult to assume the role, which made sense as Molly stated, “Well, she’s mean to me on a fairly regular basis.” The group altogether then shared the different obstacles they encountered during the creation of their film, including scheduling conflicts, issues with lighting, and the exhaust of certain cars interfering with the actors’ breathing. However, everything in The Longest Mile worked out in the long run as Fazio declared, “It didn’t live up to my expectations, but I’m still proud of what I did.”
Kasia O’Connor, Lily O’Hara, Stacy Hall, Bella Holmgren, and Alfred Timperley made up the team that brought the third featured film of the night, Lost. They also discussed troubles that they ran into, with scheduling issues being a common theme. However, problems with coordinating schedules may have hit this group harder than others as they actually lost one of their stars. The actor that was supposed to play a main character in their film was actually unable to commit to the project. Instead, group member Alfred Timperley was able to work closely with his little brother who took on the role. In spite of the shared genetics in the group, Holmgren stated that the experience was interesting as everyone was so different. In fact, the students were divided into different personality types after taking a personality test in class. Every group was required to have the different personality types to create a balance. Together, these groups took on a huge task that led to an impressive final product, such as Lost. Bella admits, “I didn’t expect it to be that much work, but it was very rewarding. I feel relieved now.”
Soon after, No Strings Attached was played. This film, with a plot twist that had many audience members shocked, was developed by Phoebe Maxwell, Rachel Berman, Jason Mirandou, James Stitt, and Matt Plympton. Group member James Stitt also mentioned the feeling of relief after the showing of their film, describing it as a “weight that has been lifted off [his] shoulders.” This seems rather reasonable after this group of students discussed a few of the major problems they encountered. These included the difficulty of keeping their composure while shooting, the alarms they unknowingly set off during the filming process, and their attempt to keep the look of both the actors and the scenery consistent during the months long process. However, this group was able to cleverly make up for the winter weather’s interruption of their shooting process with one character in their film, played by Rachel Berman, reciting the line, “We were in there so long it snowed!” Perhaps it was this creativity or simply the hard work that went into the film that led to the success. Stitt actually revealed that a greater audience was generated this year for the debut, saying, “The turnout was better than previous years.”
The final film of the night was Keyhole, the work of Justin Greenberg, Peter Saakov, Ben Boyle, and Ariel Finkle. This film stood out due to two reasons. The teacher of the Books to Films course shared that this mystery was unique because of the narrative storytelling technique that the group members used in a truly original way. The entire film had a look to it that the audience hadn’t seen before. “It was all quite impressive,” Mr. DeCubellis noted. The other reason would be the sheer efficiency of this group. The team behind Keyhole completed filming over the course of two days in contrast to the two months most groups spent shooting. When asked about the experience, Greenberg revealed that the group worked together in a very productive way, and he enjoyed the experience. “It was pretty fun. It was definitely interesting to work with people outside of school that I usually don’t get to.”
Overall, all of the presented films were impressive. The teacher of Books to Films voiced how surprised he is with the quality of the final products year after year, especially due to the fact that the students are not supplied with any equipment. As such, any student hesitant to take this course should push their worries aside if they are due to lack of experience or materials. Mr. DeCubellis states that this is a great class for anyone who really loves reading or making films, revealing his favorite portion of teaching this course to be when a student shares an interpretation from a book or film that never occurred to him before. Who could be the next student to show him, or an auditorium full of people, a brand new perspective?