Lights, camera, action: student creativity expressed through club

Members of Press Play Productions gather in a West Village apartment while shooting “Misguided.”

By Nicoletta Feldman

Behind the doors of a West Village apartment, as music played in the background, members of Press Play Productions gathered — chatting, joking, socializing — as they waited to begin filming their next shot.

To someone who didn’t know any better, the atmosphere would have seemed more like a group of friends hanging out and having fun rather than members of a short-filmmaking club in the midst of a six-hour long shooting session.

The friendly, easy-going environment maintained by co-Presidents Peter Gillette and Hao Ho, both junior filmmaking majors, is nothing new to Press Play Productions.

Gillette noted the way in which former president and recent graduate Lauren Cristadoro invited him, Ho and others into the club, and wanted to replicate it for current and future members.

“[Cristadoro] welcomed us with open arms, and that’s something that we want to do,” Gillette said. “We want to welcome everyone who comes in. We want to learn their names and get them involved.”

Ho said that those involved in Press Play Productions are a part of “a collaboration of young, ambitious students from the entire university that just want to come together and work on something, make something nice.”

The sole common denominator that joins together the members of Press Play Productions is the desire to be involved in filmmaking. Beyond that, there are no limitations as to who can join or what they can do.

“It’s a group of scriptwriters, editors, filmmakers, even English majors and public relations [majors,]” Ho said. “It’s just a huge group that wants to make short films.” 

Experience level is also not something of concern to Ho and Gillette, as the latter expressed that “none at all” is required to join the club.

“We also want to teach anyone who doesn’t know what they want to do,” Gillette said. “Even if you don’t know what a camera is or what technology is, we’ll teach it to you.”

According to Ho, Press Play Productions has typically produced one short film per semester, but they are aiming for two this fall — “Misguided,” which they are working on currently, and “Night Talks,” which will be their second of the semester.

“Misguided” was dubbed “more ambitious” than any of the club’s previous works by Gillette. Ho added that, in the past, the short films ranged in genre from dramas to comedy skits, but the main focus within the past few years has been on dramas — and it’s paid off.  

“One of our dramas, ‘Words Unsaid’ won an award at [National Broadcasting Society,]” Ho said. “That was our first award for Press Play and we’re very proud of that.” 

“Words Unsaid” was produced in Fall 2017 and received an award in March 2018.

Awards are satisfying, but the co-presidents said Press Play Productions has given them much more.

Along with having acquired “a lot of connections and leadership skills,” Ho said he has learned how to edit film. 

“I’ve learned everything in film,” said Ho. “The whole pre-production stage with the scriptwriting and storyboarding, the whole production stage with the camera, lighting, sound and the whole post production, which is editing.”

Gillette’s answer closely mirrored that of Ho’s.

“It’s taught me a lot of leadership skills, stuff that you just can’t learn in a textbook,” Gillette said. [I’ve learned] how to manage time, how to work with other people, how to work in a crew and how to properly communicate [with people,] whether it be teaching or communicating your idea to someone else.”

Freshman TV, film and radio major Danny Allen Jr., who has prior experience within the filmmaking field, joined Press Play Productions looking to attain what Gillette and Ho already had.

“I liked my time in high school, but I want an even better experience, to learn more advanced techniques,” Allen said. “[I want to] help create something really great.”

If interested in joining, students can email Gillette or Ho at or Meetings are held every Wednesday at 9 p.m. in Fine Arts 223.



Published in the 10/10/18 edition.

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