If you notice a film crew around town during the next few weeks, don’t worry; Jersey Shore hasn’t branched off with a Fanwood season.
From July 29 to August 12, the local film collective, NJ 3rd Wave Productions, will film their homage to high school antics and the town that bore them, tentatively titled Bound and Gagged in Fanwood, NJ.
“Fanwood itself will be one of the stars of the movie, we’d like to say,” said one of the film’s writers and directors, Chris Gilman.
The three college sophomores behind the film, Gilman, Will Kempner, and Jeff Marks, have lived almost their entire lives in Fanwood, attending Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School and each working with Scotch Plains TV.
They believe theirs will be a film the town can rally behind.
“It’s definitely a love letter to our town,” Kempner said.
Taking place on one of the last days of the summer in suburban New Jersey, the film brings together the stories of a local burnout, an elitist high-schooler, the devil, two cops, two drug dealers, and a senile neighbor.
According to the filmmakers, the movie is a tip of the hat to the people and places that are essentially the spirit of Fanwood.
The movie features an ensemble cast, and much of the film involves their feuds at certain points, Gilman said.
“Everyone starts out being a little bit of hater, but in the end, they can appreciate each other more, and they discover who they really are, which is something that happens in a lot of films, and we are definitely self-aware, and there is commentary on that trope,” Kempner said.
The film is a comedy based off of high school experiences, in a similar vein to Superbad or Dazed and Confused, Kempner said. But while the film utilizes a similar formula to many high school comedies, the group would assert that this film turns that formula on its head.
Gilman said that while the film is dark in many ways, the focus is finding the light and taking a different look at young people today.
“There’s definitely a message of being more understanding towards each other, not so apathetic,” Gilman said.
“I think a lot of people critique our generation as being very apathetic, and I think the film definitely deals with the generational gaps,” Kempner added.
According to the writers, high school drama features prominently throughout the film. Much of the conflict arises from characters’ biased judgments of other characters, as well as ego and defenselessness.
The film’s dialogue stems from an amalgamation of what the writers saw in high school and is a loose interpretation of how young people, like themselves, communicate today.
“It’s almost Shakespearean I would say,” Kempner joked.
“I wouldn’t compare ourselves to Shakespeare, exactly,” Gilman interjected.
“I’d say we get to the heart of these people through the way they talk, how they interpret things, how they understand things. They have their own vernacular for expressing certain high school emotions and such,” he said.
Initially, the group planned on including two animated dinosaurs in their film. The movie’s original script included a subplot which incorporated a substantial amount of metaphors portrayed through a good and an evil dinosaur.
Unfortunately, the writers were unable to collaborate with an animator they found on Angieslist.com, and as a result, they were forced to cut the dinosaurs from the script entirely.
“As we pursue our film career in the future, we’re going to look into happily incorporating dinosaurs better,” Kempner said.
While disappointed that dinosaurs would not make an appearance in this film, the writers said that it was for the best. Gilman said they were able to develop characters better, for one.
“By being restricted, it actually can open up your creativity,” Kempner said.
One restriction the filmmakers may be less concerned about now is financing the film.
After launching a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.com, an online funding platform for creative projects, the group raised $2,076 from more than 50 donors, well over their initial fundraising goal.
“We’re very humbled, and we don’t take their money lightly,” Kempner said.
With funding ensured, equipment rented, and locations scouted, almost every aspect of filming the movie is in place. The group will begin shooting in locations such as Scotchwood Diner and Fanwood Corner Store shortly, providing exposure for many local businesses.
“We’re going to be showing parts of town that people would not normally see,” Gilman said. “We’re going to be giving them the ‘Fanwood experience.’”
There’s just one item left before the group can begin shooting–they have yet to cast a police officer named Dave.
The filmmakers are searching for a middle-aged man that is able to play “angry,” Gilman said.
“Local dads, local town-players, come one, come all for the opportunity of a life-time,” Kempner said.
“If you’re angry, and you’re a Caucasian male, you’ve got the part,” he joked.
In addition to their casting call, the writers are also extending their film as a training-ground for any aspiring filmmakers to try their hand as a crew member.
“It will be a really great learning experience,” Kempner said.
“It’s going to be a very fun set to work on,” he added.
The current cast and crew are mostly local, from seniors at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, to alumni now in college. The film is being made pro bono.
“They’ll be paid in the riches and glory that will come in the massive success,” Kempner said.
Filming will take approximately two weeks to complete, and work days may be between six to 12 hours a day.
“Since the entire film takes place in one day, we have to be very aware of timing and lighting and weather,” Kempner said.
The group hopes to screen a rough cut of the film to cast and crew by the end of the summer. They will then submit the movie to film festivals around October, with a final cut being released in the winter.
According to the group, editing the comedy may take up to four months to complete, citing timing as a vital component, as well as color correction, sound work, and incorporating an original soundtrack.
“You’ve got to be able to work hard when it’s not required by school, but on your own, to pursue your own dreams,” Kempner said.
You can contact members of NJ 3rd Wave Productions at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.