New student org presents film at Z-Fest

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Screenshot taken from the short film “Sad Forever.” Actress Emily Dooley, who plays Colleen’s Mom, comforts actress Lainey Donaghue, as Colleen. They hug to calm jitters regarding Colleen’s upcoming open mic performance. “Sad Forever” was written, cast, and directed by members of Metropolitan State University’s student film club. The piece debuted at the Z-Fest Film Festival in Minneapolis on Feb. 8, 2020.
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The Metropolitan State University film club was established in October of 2019, and it is already making a name for itself. The club was created by a group of students who were taking SCRW 313 Beginning Screenwriting taught by Metro State Professor Jeremy Bandow.

Soon after the group’s first meeting, the members decided they wanted to work together to develop a short film. However, the first step prior to making the movie was for the young screenwriters to generate a workable screenplay.

Some of the early screenplay ideas revolved around a wide variety of topics including: a zombie pianist, a talking bong, and a mysterious hit and run. Ultimately, however, the club voted unanimously to go in a different direction with the film.

Sawyer Inserra, a sophomore at Metro State, was selected as the screenwriter. Inserra’s screenplay, entitled “Sad Forever,” revolves around a shy singer struggling to find her own voice following a breakup with her band.

Once Inserra was chosen, the film club began to schedule auditions. The first two auditions were held at Metro State’s Student Center and the last audition took place at the Rice Street library in St. Paul.

The club originally believed that one audition would be sufficient enough to find the cast. However, due to severe weather conditions and unexpected scheduling conflicts, the audition process took longer.

Following the multiple auditions, the team had assembled a full cast for the job. Some of the actors were veterans in the industry while others were fairly new to film.

Nonetheless, they all came together to help contribute to the production. The film’s main actress, Lainey Donoghue, is a high school student from Maple Grove who has been successful in both local and national singing competitions. This production will be her third short film. She’s portraying the character of Colleen. Colleen’s Mother, Erica, is played by Emily Dooley, a veteran actor with an extensive resume in television and film.

The next step after acquiring the cast was creating a “shot list” and identifying a location to film. A shot list is a document generated by filmmakers in which they detail and decide on which particular shots they want to make sure to include, prior to the actual day of shooting. This process, done correctly, gives the film a unique sense of direction and perspective.

For the location, the group decided to film in two places. The first place was a cafe called Amore Coffee, located in St. Paul. The second location was actually shot inside of Inserra’s home, in the basement and upstairs bedroom. Each day of shooting took 8-12 hours to complete.  

All of the filming for “Sad Forever” concluded in January and the club entered the movie into the Z-Fest Film Festival on February 8th. The Z-Fest Film Festival is an annual Twin Cities contest and the main criteria is that the film be local and that it runs no longer than seven minutes. 

Inserra’s short film along with other local entries will be shown at the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Maplewood on March 6 at 9:30pm. An awards gala will be held in St. Louis Park on Friday, March 20, for all participants of the festival.

*The Metropolitan’s multimedia editor, Brandon General, is currently a member of Metropolitan State University Film Club.*