With the awards season in full swing, the typical film junkie is now fully enraptured with nominations for “Best Picture,” close races for “Best Actor,” and exhausting anticipation for the Academy Awards. However, each film nominated throughout this season must first begin with an idea. An idea, and a creative individual possessing the passion and determination to express that idea through his or her direction and creative means.
West Chester student Chris Pierdomenico shares and embraces such a passion.
Having directed and produced two feature-length movies, several short films, and multiple other works, Pierdomenico has become a well-established filmmaker on campus, and works at the campus digital media center as well as the WCU TV station.
Though many of his films are responses to classroom assignments, his “required” films and original works all share a similar underlying purpose.
“I like to shed light on situations people don’t normally talk about,” Pierdomenico said, “things people don’t acknowledge or know about.”
Take, for example, two of his short films, “Jane’s World” and “Al’s World.” In “Jane’s World,” a young girl is surrounded by a family and society which tells her that “skinny is beautiful”, and spirals into an increasingly self-destructive and withdrawn lifestyle.
“Al’s World” represents a different kind of situation, where the conflict isn’t between the main character and his surrounding influences, but the character and his own mind.
The filming style of “Al’s World” changes according to whether the viewer is experiencing Al’s vision of reality or actual reality.
When asked what the most challenging part of filming feature-length films was, Pierdomenico replied “all of it – the filming, casting, production, everything!” He then elaborated further on the production of his second feature-length, “Opaque.” The film required a twenty to thirty person cast, several full-time crew members, and was to be filmed and produced in four months. Pierdomenico related that, ten months after the expected wrap-up date, he realized that it was extremely difficult to keep team enthusiasm elevated. “I had a goal and vision of how I wanted it to end up,” Pierdomenico said “It was tough to have everyone keep that goal in sight the whole way through.”
Through his dedication to his craft, Pierdomenico has expanded and deepened his understanding and quality of filming.
Philagape productions (founded by Pierdomenico and Matt Kelly, a friend from high school), started off making purely Christian-based works. Since then, the group has produced more films focused on conveying the message of “unconditional, brotherly love,” the meaning of their creatively titled production company.
Pierdomenico now handles much of the producing, directing, and casting, and with Matt’s help with the musical components, is now aiming to find a balance between the two.
When he first began filming his own movies, Pierdomenico relied on family members and friends to fill the roles of his characters. Now, he uses a combination of hired actors and friends who he feels “fit” certain roles.
One of his most common reoccurring actors is his younger brother, Dave, who has adjusted and applied himself to a variety of roles.
With all of this experience in film, it seems only practical that Pierdomenico is also focusing academically on the art.
“I’m a weirdo,” he says, “people always assume that I major in film.”
Pierdomenico majors in English education, and dual minors in both film and psychology here at West Chester.
As if all of his background in the film industry wasn’t already commendable, Pierdomenico also has experience in television.
During the spring 2008 semester, his personal series, “The Chrispy Show,” aired on WCUTV. Also, one of his upcoming projects is a television mini-series for WCUTV titled “RA: the Series,” which will provide a look into the life of a campus Resident Assistant.
Though the idea of the show seems fairly basic, an interesting allegory will be revealed when the show airs next fall. Pierdomenico is very excited for this show, because he will be working with a full crew, and filming (for his first time) in high-definition.
Though the series is Pierdomenico’ main focus, he is also currently working on writing a theatrical comedy, and enjoys collaborating with John Graves Productions when not preoccupied with his own works.
A selection of Pierdomenico’s films can be found on his Youtube site, at www.youtube.com/ebchrispy.
Tara Tanzos is a second year student majoring in English. She can be reached at TT649875@wcupa.edu