(Exclusive) MFF: Montclair Film makes a Montclair Film
By GWEN OREL
For the first time, Montclair Film Festival will show its own promo short film before features: a music video with an original song, “Let’s go to the Movies,” shot in Montclair.
“It’s the first time we’ve created any of our own content,” said Montclair Film Festival (MFF) Chairman of the Board Bob Feinberg, in an exclusive interview with Montclair Local. “We’ve shown other peoples’ films, but never really made anything ourselves.”
The “sizzle reel,” as such promo films are called in the festival world, will be shown in the larger venues of the festival, which takes place April 26-May 6, and possibly at other events, Feinberg said.
The song for the video was written, composed by Brown sophomore James Feinberg and Matt Rose, a sophomore at the Tisch school of the arts. It was directed by Adam Roat, also a sophomore at NYU. James Feinberg is Bob Feinberg’s son. He and Rose also have a short film, “The Eminent Carmine Craig,” starring Montclair High School student Sam Norrie, that will screen at MFF on April 30 and May 1.
The singers and dancers in the video come from Montclair State University (MSU) and Montclair High’s School of Visual and Performing Arts. Montclair Orchestra and musicians from MSU’s John J. Cali School of Music play the soundtrack. Montclair state’s School of Communication and Media also played a large role in the film. Steve McCarthy, a professor there, worked onset and is credited as one of the producers. Van Vleck House & Gardens also participated, as did The Montclair Foundation.
The five lead actors/singers come from MSU — the video creative team were able to attend the general MSU auditions — and the ensemble of singers and dancers are all high school and college students. They recorded the song over two days last fall at MSU.
The finished video, at 2:20, is really “a little mini-movie,” Feinberg said. “It was my idea. I loved ‘La-La Land.’ I’m a huge fan of old movie musicals, and the opening scene of ‘La-La Land’ is this beautiful music and dance scene that takes place in a highway where the traffic is dead stopped in a Los Angeles-type traffic jam and the music starts and everybody gets out of their cars and starts dancing. And I thought, ‘wow, wouldn’t it be great to something like that here in Montclair.’”
Originally, he contacted a production company about making the video. They quoted him a fee of about$50,000.
“I kind of thought back to our original mindset when we started the film festival, and I said ‘let’s just do it on our own.’”
It was natural for him to think of his son James, who is a lyricist, and has written, among other things, a musical performed at MHS.
“At Sundance, there is a film of a woman running towards the landscape of Utah, and we hadn’t done something like that at Montclair before,” James Feinberg said. While Bob Feinberg came up with the video concept, James Feinberg came up with the idea of the song: “It’s about a group of young people who are bored by how beautiful the weather is and decide to go to the movies because it’s the only thing to do,” he said.
Let’s sit in the gloom where the fun is intensive
go light on the popcorn, that stuff is expensive...
let’s go to the movies
it’s something to do...
for after all you must allow
that life’s a movie anyhow
so when they roll credits don’t let it be said
it’s a shame the movies couldn’t come to you.
Roat, the director, scouted locations in Montclair, as well as attended auditions. The video includes scenes set in the MHS amphitheater, Bloomfield Avenue and Montclair Film’s home at 505 Bloomfield Ave., Eagle Rock reservation with a view of New York City, and Van Vleck House & Gardens, among others. At one point the singers skip into Cinema505 and watch themselves on the screen.
Originally the video was to have about 50 dancers. But “for some reason it’s incredibly hard to find people to show up for two hours and dance,” Roat said. “And it was really cold.”
The film was shot within the last few months. “But the 10 great people who participated were terrific,” he said, and the choreography of Sydney Miede, a MHS grad, really works.
For Rose, composer, James Feinberg’s lyrics set the tone.
“I tried to draw elements from early 30s, 40s musicals but also more recent stuff,” Rose said.
He scored the music as well, and on set, he kept an eye on syncing issues to make sure everyone’s mouths matched up. “Most of my work was done on the preproduction side. Once we took it into the studio I was conducting there, and supervising the mixing,” Rose said.
Daniel Gurskis, dean of the college of arts at MSU, was happy to work with MFF when Bob Feinberg came to him with the song. It was a good way to use students from the musical theater program and students from the Cali school, Gurskis said. The new School of Communication and Media building has a live recording studio. It’s really sized for about nine or 10 musicians, but this song was scored for 50, he said with a laugh. So the recording took place over two days, with strings, then horns on one day and vocalists on another.
MSU has been supportive of MFF over the years, and hosted MFF when it debuted in 2012. This year, there will be some screenings and presentations in the new presentation hall, he said. And McCarthy and David Sanders even have a film, “Hayatuna,” that will be screened during MFF, on May 1 and 2.
When Bob Feinberg approached MSU with the song, “we were excited,” Gurskis said. “It is a unique way to put our talented students on-screen in front of the many, many people who will be seeing the films.”