“[Sexual assault] is an important topic because it is something that a lot of us go through, and its aftereffects are often minimized by media and culture,” said Ines Aitsahalia ’18, who portrays the traumatized girl. “Seeing a film acted by someone in that age group and experience is, I think, very powerful.”
However, the jarring material of the short made it difficult to act in for all involved. One challenge was working on violent scenes with co-star Adrian Karachalios ’19, a close friend of Aitsahalia’s.
“The subject material is definitely the most challenging part …handling the sensitive topic and working with [Karachalios], who is playing opposite me; we are close friends and the scenes are very intense,” said Aitsahalia.
Her co-star shared similar concerns about working with such a contentious issue.
“For me it was difficult because … and a lot of people, it’s a touchy subject that you must treat with care because it’s very important to get the message across,” said Karachalios. The entire production team was very cautious as the script was originally based on a student essay.
The two stars were not the only students working on the film. Half a dozen students worked on technical, production, artistic, and administrative aspects of the film under the auspices of the club. Led by the club’s president, Adam Olkin ’18, the students produced every part of the film from the first draft of the script to the release publicity. Olkin has used his wide-ranging experience with performance and production in PHS Spectacle Theatre shows and Tiger News broadcasts to guide the process.
“We wrote the script first, then we finalized the script and we created shot lists and planned out all the blocking and camera lists. On the shoot day, we went over blocking with the actors and crew and shot it in multiple takes,” Olkin said.
Even with his previous experience, the production was still a learning experience for Olkin as he experimented with more advanced techniques both technically and artistically. “Planning out everything in advance really speeds up the shoot because things always go wrong, so if you need to change something and fit it in, it’s much easier to figure out how to make it work in a larger context,” Olkin said.
That became particularly important as the film was shot with a narrow timeframe due to balancing the demanding schedules of all those involved.
The actors involved also developed new skills through the project.
“It adds new things that I had to act out or portray, because I’ve done a variety of projects with dark subjects, like suicide or death in general, this is just one more thing that helps me grow as an actor and a person,” said Karachalios.
The Filmmaking club has ambitious plans for releasing their work to the wider public. They plan on entering it in many local student film festivals like the Princeton Public Library Student Film Festival and the Walnut Street Film Festival. Olkin may also plan to release it to the public soon online.
“We’ve worked really hard on it,” he said, “and we hope its message on tough issues will resonate with audiences like it did with us.”