By Paul Mullin
It’s around noontime on a sunny Saturday, and a small wedding reception is getting underway. It isn’t the most glamorous setting, but the guests are dancing and so is the happy couple. Then an orange maintenance crane crosses through the scene — back-up beeper blaring loud and clear — and there is a man with a camera up in the bucket.
It’s junior Niko Paleologus, and he’s filming the final scene for his Screen Actors Guild-sanctioned romantic comedy, With a Little Help, on Daly’s Field.
This is part of a project that has been in the filming stage since the beginning of this semester, and Paleologus hopes it will wrap up before finals end, in time to ensure two premieres.
In the film, Peter, the main character, gets dumped by his fiancée five days before the wedding.
“[Instead of telling] his parents and all the guests that there will be no wedding, Peter says, ‘No, no, then I’ll look stupid, it would be better to fake a wedding,’” Paleologus said.
Peter and his friend, Rick, then come up with a scheme to find a “replacement” bride and have her contract some fake fatal illness just before the wedding, “so he won’t have to get married to her, and he won’t look like a total failure,” Paleologus said.
After a series of misbegotten dates Rick sets up for Peter, Peter ends up asking another of his best friends, Sam, to stand in as his bride, and that’s where the meat of the story comes in.
It all started when Paleologus signed up for Professor Shawn Kildea’s Advanced TV Production class.
“We were supposed to break the class up into two groups and each group would produce a film for that semester, and whoever had the idea for the film would be the director and everyone else would help out being the crew or the actors,” he said.
But when class began, Paleologus learned the plans had changed.
“The first day the professor told me we would be doing a bunch of short, little projects,” he said. “I had already done so much preliminary work that I just said, ‘Screw it, I’m going to do it anyway.’”
With Kildea’s blessing, Paleologus took on the project in addition to his regular coursework because he still wanted to learn what the class had to offer.
Playing the three main characters are sophomores Brian Long (Peter) and Justin Kelly (Rick), and freshman Kaitlyn Frotton (Sam).
“[My reason for taking part in the film was] really just working with Niko,” Kelly said. “He told me all about the project, and I just wanted to be a part of it.”
Paleologus acknowledged that some might see all this expense and hard work as a fruitless endeavor.
“A lot of people would say that it’s a waste and I’m not going to get anything back from it, and they could absolutely be right,” he said. “This could just be a venture for myself. But to me, finding out whether or not I like doing the directing aspect — especially something this large — is worth it.”
After the final product is put together and the premieres have aired, Paleologus hopes to take the movie on the road.
“I want to enter it into as many film festivals as possible,” he said. “I can’t say whether or not it will get in anywhere, but I’ve seen some films that are winners at certain festivals, and I feel like this might have a pretty good shot. I’d like to see it go places.”