“Were they in the shot?!”
Accidentally walking into a shot on the final day of filming for the feature “Rising Star” was bad timing. The actors calmly set up and re-shot the scene. The Chronicle visited the set to observe the cast and crew as they completed filming.
During this final day of principal photography, the set was especially busy.
“Lots of organized chaos here,” lead actor Gary Ploski said.
The actors flipped through scripts, changed outfits quickly and repeated scenes over and over, as former Quinnipiac professor Marty Lang, writer, director, and producer of the film, offered encouraging direction. His friendliness, patience and motivation almost seemed out of place, considering the hectic day that lay ahead.
Lang’s fair share of layoffs and stress seems to have prepared him for this, serving as the inspiration for the film’s plot.
“I’ve been laid off four times in my professional career,” Lang said. “But what’s almost worse than being laid off is the fear of being laid off, where every single day you worry about whether this is going to be your last day on the job.”
Lang wanted to make a movie about this everyday anxiety. The idea also happened to mesh well with elements of a love story.
“When people watch this movie, I hope they come away with the realization that you can find a way to combine a work life with passions you may have outside of work,” Lang said. “It’s so important to have something to do that’s not work. People forget that sometimes, so I hope this film shows that you can find that balance.”
According to Lang, students also influenced him, during his tenure at Quinnipiac and while serving as the faculty representative on the Quinnipiac Film Society’s trip to the Sundance Film Festival.
“When you see young people working that hard on their own projects, you get inspired to work on things of your own as well,” Lang said.
Junior QFS member Tom Galo met Lang during the last trip to Sundance, where he and others connected with Lang immediately.
“I am not surprised at all by his most recent success,” Galo said. “He puts in a full effort, no matter what the job at hand is.”
Lang said he hopes people will take away the message that it’s possible to combine a life revolving around work with a life filled with passions outside of the office. Lang wants the film to demonstrate how to achieve this balance, through the experiences of the main characters.
Chris, played by Ploski, is caught up in the working world as an insurance adjuster. Upon hearing the news that he will have to work during the weekend, he spends the night at the local bar. Here, he meets his online love interest in person, Alyza, played by Emily Morse. Chris is forced to reevaluate his life as they discuss their passions and explore the city of Hartford together.
Ploski, an actor since 1999, said he loves his work because it helps him experience humanity and learn about himself, through roles that are different from his own life. However, Ploski feels he can somehow relate to his character’s role.
“Chris experiences sad and happy times throughout the film. His hopes, dreams and fears all live in him at all times just like mine do within me,” Ploski said. “One ‘Chris experience’ I completely related to was being unhappy in a workplace. I have had my share of jobs that felt as though they did more harm to me than good. Today that could not be further from the truth.”
Lang and Ploski seemed extremely comfortable and natural on set, a turnaround from character Chris’ dilemma.
“The opportunity to find these people within me and live out their lives in such heightened settings is a rush and challenge that keeps bringing me back,” Ploski said.
One of the two leading producers on the film is Matthew Giovannucci, a 2006 Quinnipiac alumnus, who spoke of filmmaking as a mix of commotion as well as harmony.
“Films require everyone to be on the ball and to think coherently and as one,” Giovannucci said. “The chaos comes from everyone running around like a chicken with [its] head cut off for 20 minutes setting up lights, blocking actors, and making sure sound is in place. It’s music in the making.”
Giovannucci believes film students need to create their own work, because it is hard to find a job in the industry. Working up from a production assistant on a big budget film is one option. Or aspiring filmmakers can make their own movies by writing, directing and producing themselves.
“I believe in luck but I also believe in increasing your own odds and one aspect of that is through educating and preparing oneself,” Giovannucci said.
Raising about $18,500 through the Internet, family and friends, it’s evident that people believe in Lang’s vision, message and the film.
“Sure, shooting has wrapped on ‘Rising Star’ but it is far from over,” Ploski said. “Soon enough I will begin looking at all the photos and behind the scenes footage I recorded with the crew, remembering all the fun and stressful times we shared together.”
“Rising Star” will be completed by next summer and then submitted for acceptance at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and South by Southwest Film Festival.
For more information about the film and cast, visit risingstarmovie.com or facebook.com/risingstarmovie.
Photo credit: facebook.com