Teen Releases Thriller Shot on HDSLRs

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

Jared Rosenthal is 17; and while most teenagers are going to the movies with their friends, Jared is making them, with his own money, a pair of HDSLRs and some help from a few sponsors.  And the result of his film MONITOR makes me wonder… how long will it be before we see young, teen phenom movie directors with studio backing?

(Editor’s note: This is close to what Francis Ford Coppola once said, a girl in Ohio will be making movies on her camcorder.)

“The film was shot on two DSLR cameras over the course of 7 days with a budget of roughly $4,000. We raised all of the money through freelance work, donations, or sponsors. Some of our sponsors included Kessler Crane, Cobra Crane, Red Giant, D|Focus, Beachtek, K-Tek, and Handy SLR.” – Jared Rosenthal

Now granted, there’s a few mistakes in the film, but they’re mostly editing tweaks here and there that could tighten it up.  The story itself is compelling: it’s about a single mother who picks up sounds of domestic violence as “skip” from her baby monitor.  She then tries to get the police to find out what’s happening, but their hands area legally tied.  So she puts together who’s hurting who, but not before she witnesses the killer driving off with his wife in the back of his pickup covered with a tarp.

It’s a very compelling thriller for a 17 year old who has managed to take full advantage cinematically of the boost independent filmmakers get with the combination of HDSLRs (A CanonCanon 60D + T2i) and the power of the Internet to distribute (via Vimeo) and advertise his film (through Facebook).  And it’s also impressive that Rosenthal went “old school” and simply worked hard and through a combination of saving, donations from friends and family, and even sponsorships from companies like Kessler, Red Giant, and Beachtek, got together the money to fund his film.

“We were 14 when we started development on the project,” said Rosenthal, “and we were acutely aware of the enormity of the material we were tackling.  We also knew that if we ever wanted to see the project to fruition, we needed all of our bases covered, and we needed a powerful script to draw people in.”

Even more so, the entire crew, was made up of teens – presumably his friends who shared his filmmaking passion.   He also went for a mature theme that prompted using adults, and he directs them impressively to some fantastic performances.  “My first reaction would be how hard it was to get a bunch of professional adult actors to trust in a bunch of teenagers for a project as big as this was,” added Rosenthal.  “But truth be told, everyone was exceptionally trusting and dedicated.  Our actors gave it their all, and we couldn’t be more grateful for that.”

And what I like is that he told a pure story, a thriller, without any CGI or special effects – which is usually the automatic choice of younger filmmakers who are looking to add more production value to their films but they’re on a shoestring budget like Rosenthal.  Instead of going big and adding effects – which after looking at his Vimeo page, he certainly could have, he worked with what he had and relied on the story to carry the film, and that’s the hallmark of a good director.

Monitor has been submitted to the Tribecca Film Festival, and you can check out more at his Facebook page.  So, what do you think?  Will we see teen directors doing major features now that the quality barrier of cameras has been breached?

Hat Tip – Planet 5D and Celtx

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.