“The Kiss Script”: student filmmakers find groove with a 3rd collaboration | Movie


For Jordan Cascade of Scarsdale, Sam Friedman, Jake Lubin and Jeremy Suzman, the third time is truly a charm. Their most recent film, “The Kiss Script”, stands out from their previous two collaborations by far.

Director and screenwriter Sam Friedman on set.

Under the auspices of Hazel Witch Productions, Cascade and Lubin had first directed “Scenes from a New Normal,” a COVID-19 documentary focused on Scarsdale, in the spring of 2020, but the group has since moved on to a writing combination. , producing, directing and staring in the 10 minute drama “The Boy on the Moon”, the 18 minute thriller “In Spades”, and now the 23 minute romantic comedy “The Kiss Script”, their most ambitious endeavor , rewarding and professional that was recently posted on YouTube.

“It was the culmination of what we learned in the last two films,” Lubin said. “I feel like we got it, that we got better in everything we wanted. Much of this movie came about because we spent more time in it than we had for the previous two. We really got it.

The larger group reunited after Josh Shelov, an Emmy-winning writer and filmmaker and 1989 Scarsdale graduate, asked Friedman to assemble a group of students to teach a virtual storytelling camp in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic struck, and Friedman first reached out to his ultimate teammate Lubin, who helped recruit more students. The guys chatted in June and decided to work on the first two projects with Cascade and Suzman in 2020. They were happy with the results, but knew the best was yet to come.

For Friedman, a sophomore film student at Northwestern University, “The Kiss Script” was a unique project because not only did he direct it, but he also wrote it, based on a story idea that he, Stephen Greenberg and Lubin proposed.

The basis of the film is that students make a film for a school project: “’The Kiss Script’ is a teen comedy about Stephen, a high school movie nerd with a struggling love life. When his pals come up with the idea of ​​writing Stephen and his longtime sweetheart together in a romantic comedy for their film class, the boys have to go to questionable extremes to keep the project – and Stephen’s love odds going – going. afloat.

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Zach Loeser and Stephen Greenberg


In the wings

It started as a project for a Northwestern summer program where Friedman was a roommate with Greenberg, now a freshman at the school, which was never made, but it floated for Friedman, who has eventually scripted for it and gathered the troops this past June to kick off pre-production, with filming in late July / early August on four sleepless days and nights. The 23-minute film, which cost less than $ 500 to make, underwent several months of editing by Friedman and Lubin after receiving comments from “trusted friends, family, industry professionals,” according to Friedman , while they reduced the original draft by about five minutes to arrive at the final product.

“It was definitely our biggest business,” Friedman said. “I had done things in the past, but this was the first time I had done something that I was writing. He was my baby all the time which was great, although it was quite difficult. It’s definitely the longest, so it took the longest time to edit and it was a different style from the stuff we’ve done previously.

Although there was a script for the first half of what Friedman calls the “genre” movie that ranges from comedy to drama from the first half to the second, the production team decided to go with a more improvised approach after the actors have spent time working together and gelling. This main scene from the first half features Lubin, Greenberg, and Zach Loeser.

“The actors did a great job and it helped us do something that felt pretty true for teens messing around and thinking,” Friedman said. “That, coupled with the editing, made this work.”

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Zach loeser

Lubin, a high school student from Scarsdale High School, said “The Kiss Script” was the right challenge at the right time as the band sought to “test ourselves”. They were told how difficult it would be to make a comedy – as if people were “warning them” – but Lubin saw this as “another motivator”.

“We just wanted to try it out and see what we can do with it and we’re really happy with the result,” he said. It was hard ? “It really was,” admitted Lubin.

“A lot of people say when you are looking for an idea to write what you know, and what could be more true than what we know is to make a movie as teenagers who don’t know much about cinema and don’t have not so many resources? “said Lubin.” It was the perfect illustration of what our lives are like and what drives us. Making a movie out of that was extremely natural.

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Jake Lubin

Lubin starred in “Boy on the Moon” alongside Greenberg, and while he wasn’t originally cast in it, he ended up being the lead role. Friedman had written the main character for Greenberg, but Greenberg wanted to have a more comedic role. Once the producers realized Lubin would be the better choice since he had previously had a relationship with co-stars Greenberg and Loeser, they were gone. Not only was the chemistry a success, Lubin had improved a lot from the previous film in which he had abused his hands.

“In terms of acting as a producer and working with the story as an actor, I think it really influenced my ability to act in this performance,” Lubin said. “I felt like I knew the story as well as anyone could. “

This decision also helped them choose the main woman. As it was a brief kiss, Lubin’s two-year-old girlfriend Alexandra Tretler, despite no acting experience, agreed to join the cast, perhaps so that no one else would kiss her. man. “That was actually a big part of that too,” Lubin joked, before saying, “Her performance turned out to be excellent. She was willing to take a chance, a risk.

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Jake Lubin and Alexandra Tretler

They shot the short kissing scene no more than seven times and it was hugely popular as analysis shows that it is, according to Lubin, “the most watched part of the movie”.

Although she was never involved in any of the projects, Tretler always saw the filmmaking process behind the scenes and said that her on-screen debut was “sort of spontaneous, but a lot of fun. “.

Knowing the time and energy that the group devotes to their films, the pride they take in them, Tretler knew how important his participation would be.

“We have a chemistry together in real life and it helped bring the movie to life,” she said. “I think I was a little nervous, but you see that in the movies all the time. Once we knew it was going to happen, it was ‘let’s enjoy it, have fun’.

Tretler was not bitten by the acting bug, but said she might be more interested in learning more about the behind-the-scenes action in the future. “It was really nice to see people coming together,” she said. “The dynamics were great. It was a good group of people. We are all different ages, but we all got along very well. We’re also very different people, which I think worked out well in the movie. Getting close on set was an experience I never expected. In the end, it was gratifying to meet all these new people.

Friedman had been making films, mostly documentaries, on his own since college, mainly because he had no one to work with, even though he was even looking beyond the borders of Scarsdale. Having this group of fellow Scarsdalians – Greenberg is the only foreigner in Connecticut – helped them all take their craft to the next level and most of them are still just upper class students in high school. .

“It’s great to be able to count on people, to find people as ambitious as I am,” Friedman said. “It gets frustrating when you have to push the kids to do something, but they do it too, so we all really participate. It’s a very straightforward relationship. We are very honest with each other. We tour the BS and give our honest opinions. And we often challenge each other.

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Noah Kaller

The next challenge is to submit the film to festivals. The group has screened and won awards at festivals for past projects, but many festivals will not accept an entry that has already been made public. The producers knew this when they posted the movie to YouTube, but they just wanted to release it once it was ready. They wanted their art to be disseminated to the world.

With their better story, better production quality, and better acting than their previous films – “And we love these films,” Lubin said – they made a film that is “quite indistinguishable from something that you could see it on television, “according to Lubin. “I think it might sound like something that gets broadcast on TV. It’s not a blur, the lighting is actually determined and you can see the intention in what we’re doing and I’m really proud of it. Looks as professional as we could have given what we had.

Ahead of the COVID-19 shutdown in March 2020, Lubin had just received approval from the school government for a high school film club as he, like Friedman, sought to connect with other enthusiasts of the school. budding industry. Soon they had assembled a core of dedicated filmmakers.

“I think we’ve found an amazing group of kids and it’s way better than I could have imagined,” said Lubin. “We have learned a lot from each other and I love working with them.


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