NESN’s showcase of New England college filmmakers is rich with stories by and about Suffolk students and sports figures, from a touching look at a onetime Rams pitcher forced off the mound by repeated injuries to the saga of a hockey player who got back on his feet more than four years after a paralyzing on-ice injury.
Students David Apostolides and JJ Moran made the finals in the sports networks’ Next Producer contest with the short film Giving Up the Game. It focuses on Rams pitching prospect Jake Damphousse, who was just back from Tommy John surgery when a new injury stopped his Suffolk career just as it was about to begin. Their film will air on NESN at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, March 4, before a Red Sox-Twins spring training game.
The story of former Suffolk hockey player John Gilpatrick, the hockey player who regained his ability to walk, is told in Bar Down, a film by Emerson College students. And honorable mention went to Suffolk’s Matt Brown, Joey Ambose, and Stefan Jandrisevits for Saying Goodbye. The film is Suffolk student Paul Doran’s ode to “the man who made me fall in love with baseball”—David Ortiz. It will air with other honorable mention winners at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, March 19, immediately before NESN’s coverage of a Red Sox spring training game.
Apostolides and Moran learned about the contest late in the game so had to scramble to get from concept to finished product in about a month. The first step was coming up with an idea and treatment.
“Jake had been my roommate, and he had a really good story to tell,” said Apostolides, Class of 2018, who had played baseball as a Suffolk freshman and is majoring in media production.
Their production schedule left room at the end for several professors to review the film, and the two incorporated the valuable feedback before the late-October submission deadline.
“David and JJ asked me to review and critique a rough cut to make suggestions for improvement. I was very happy to do so; their hard work shows in every single frame,” said Professor Monika Raesch, chair of the Department of Communication & Journalism. “I was also delighted to see how they had applied and smoothly integrated some theoretical film concepts. Besides being shot beautifully, their choice of camera positions and framing alongside the editing created more depth to the story.”
New project for creative team
Moran, Class of 2017 and a film studies major, and Apostolides had been working together in RamCam Productions, a student filmmaking club that got off the ground in fall 2016, and the NESN submission was their first serious non-classroom film.
They found that their creative partnership works and now have their sights set on making a feature-length documentary examining the global impact of American politics.
To advance this project, the two have enrolled in the Sawyer Business School’s Crowdfunding the Venture class, which they had supported this past fall as videographers.
“It was awesome for us; RamCam was a club that didn’t even exist before the fall semester,” said Moran of their role in producing short films promoting the student entrepreneurs’ ventures. “We formed a good relationship with the professors” —Jenni Dinger and Chaim Letwin, who asked them to work with the class again this semester.
But, inspired by the success of the student entrepreneurs and eager to fund their documentary, Apostolides and Moran have elevated their involvement. In addition to producing videos for other students; they will be learning the ropes of crowdfunding and raising money to produce their film.
Investigating international perspectives
Their goal for the documentary is not only to make a film that’s interesting, but also to show viewpoints that may be unfamiliar to American viewers and, in Moran’s words, “to break the bubble” that surrounds enclaves of like-minded people and keeps them from understanding other points of view.
“It’s rare that Americans look across the aisle for another perspective,” said Apostolides. “We’ll bring viewers to other places to see real people outside our borders who have a stake in our success.”
The two student filmmakers already have begun shooting—at the Copley Square protest of the president’s immigration ban and at the Women’s March in Boston.
Yet the NESN project isn’t far from their minds as they plan a viewing party for the March 4 airing and encourage their friends and colleagues to vote for Giving Up the Game. They’ve met some of the other contestants and watched all the competing films.
“We were impressed,” said Moran.
Raesch said that Moran’s and Apostolides’ first film for a public audience demonstrates the fruit of hard labor.
“The type of work David and JJ produced for NESN requires planning, great execution, and dedication to bring a project to a successful closing,” she said. “They produced an engaging story, showcasing another Suffolk student, permitting audiences to get a glimpse into the Suffolk community.
“The two, alongside CJN's second team that received honorable mention in the NESN competition, are great upper-class role models for our younger students in the department. Everybody can achieve high; you have to practice your skills a lot, which implies great dedication.”