Huntington seniors Jennifer Low and Caitlyn Palermo completed the Manhattan Film Institute’s highly regarded Directors Gold summer program in Greenport.
The intensive two week program involved screenwriting, directing and editing an original short film. Ms. Low and Ms. Palmero were tasked with developing scripts with a mentor even before the program officially began. They were required to arrive on the first day with a solid first draft of a “3-2-1” script to shoot. Three pages, two characters and one location. The program taught them how to focus on character, story and actor performance. Actors were casted from the Manhattan Film Institute’s actor’s camp.
“If students are wanting to pursue a career in film, the MFI summer program is one of the best opportunities to prepare them for a real film set,” said art teacher Heather Swan, who leads Huntington’s video arts program. “The skills that Caitlyn and Jenny obtained from these two weeks will propel their work to a new level. I am so impressed by their MFI films and can’t wait to see what they will produce this year.”
The Huntington teenagers learned how to direct and rehearse with experienced actors. There were tutorials on camera, sound and lighting and editing. Ms. Low and Ms. Palermo shot their films with an experienced Manhattan Film Institute cinematographer and edited them under the guidance of MFI editors. The films were shown on the big screen at the Greenport movie theater on the final day.
“I wrote, directed and edited a short film called ‘Beliefs,’” Ms. Low said. “We spent the first week in classes and learning. I had the opportunity to work with two incredible young actresses and rehearse with them every day, as well as work on my script with the staff and faculty. We then filmed a three minute video in four hours with a nine person crew. After that we had two days to edit and lock our films. It was a really incredible experience and I got to work with people both new to the film industry and experienced actors, directors and writers.”
Ms. Low and Ms. Palermo went through a formal process that included being interviewed prior to being accepted into the program. The pair was among a very select group of 25 participants chosen.
“The opportunity to have one on one conversations with writers, directors cinematographers, actors, people who have been in the film industry and fellow students was irreplaceable,” Ms. Palermo said. “Not only did I advance my skills in film, but I learned so much while being on set and the importance of each individual role.”
The young filmmakers were housed at the Silver Sands bay front motel and beach cottage resort in Greenport, which served as the headquarters for the program. Ms. Low and Ms. Palermo and the other student directors ate their meals at the Silver Sands and attended evening meetings there. Located on Peconic Bay, the motel features a quarter mile of private sandy beach and magnificent views of Shelter Island.
A typical day began at 8 a.m. with breakfast and continued with workshops. Evenings included rehearsals, writing sessions, screenings and lectures. It was an exhausting, but extremely gratifying experience for the two Huntington teenagers.