WORDS: MEGAN PELSON '(17), STAFF WRITER
Is there not something elusive and, in turn, totally alluring about Wesleyan’s film department and their students? I mean, isn’t it remarkable how our small school in Middletown, CT has produced some of the most influential figures in the entertainment world? Wesleyan Film students prove time and time again that yes, there are things you can do with a degree in film. I had a chance to sit down (…or g-chat…) with one of these students: Annalora Von Pentz (’14), a Wesleyan graduate of the Film Studies program. She dishes out some advice, offers me a writing job in a hypothetical film about her life, discusses her senior thesis, and hints at a very cool project she is working on at the moment. Check out Annalora and all of her radness below.
Megan Pelson: Okay…let’s start with some basics. How did you first get into film?
Annalora Von Pentz: My parents (and extended family) are both really into photography so I grew up having all sorts of cameras all over the house. My brother and I used to use the camcorder to make commercials for stuff around the house. [The commercial for] Scotch Tape is our best work. Senior year of high school, I took my camcorder everywhere and literally recorded the entire thing. But, when I came to Wesleyan, I had no intention in majoring in film.
MP: How far into your Wesleyan career did you decide to major in film?
AVP: I took Film Analysis second semester of freshman year and I really liked it. So, first semester of sophomore year is when I sort of figured it out. I had literally no idea what I wanted to major in when I first came. I started off in a biology class (literally no idea what I was thinking with that)…I tried to take computer science…government…I really took every intro class there is.
MP: Can you talk about your senior thesis and the process?
AVP: Ohhh, my thesis…You couldn’t pay me to re-watch it. No. I would re-watch it without someone paying me. But I’d cringe the entire time. I approached the process with too much on my plate and a I-can-do-it-all-and-nothing-will-suffer attitude. It was a tremendous experience because it was the first time I worked with actors and actresses. That said, I would do ninety million things differently. Starting with writing the script in June. And [I would] try to keep it to one person and one room. I think sooo complexly. Often, my thoughts get lost in details and aesthetic. I wish I could just stick to one thing and make it stellar. So many of my peers did that. Their movies kicked ass. Also, watching your thesis in front of an audience is so terrifying.
MP: I wrote a few one-acts in high school and never went to the production of any of them.
AVP: It’s crazy. I did NOT anticipate that, especially because I kind of like showing off? Sweatiest palms of all time. Swear to god.
MP: What is the most valuable thing you learned from being a film student at Wesleyan?
AVP: People really matter. These people are more than just people you’re in class with. You will almost certainly be working with them (or other Wes folks) in the future. It’s just how the whole thing works. To be honest, I learned that as a post-grad. I’ve been working with Haley Sacks (’13) who is absolutely hilarious. We’ve made, like, ten short films of her being ridiculous and funny. A couple weekends ago, I helped shoot a music video for Henry Hall (’14). [The music video] is going to be truly incredible. I could go on and on. Everyone helping on Henry’s shoot was Wesleyan born. [But, as film students at Wesleyan,] None of us were ever taught how to use a camera.
MP: I’ve heard that you don’t really get many opportunities to work with a camera. What gives?!
AVP: I get it—this is liberal arts. You are taught, but it’s so limited. I learned a lot about camera from my job at IMS (Instructional Media Services) just because I was working with a camera on a daily basis. You really get to know the ins and outs that way.
MP: Any projects you’re working on now?
AVP: It’s kind of a secret. So exciting. This is the first time I’ve ever had to be all my-lips-are-sealed. But, it has to do with YouTube and a really, truly awesome gal that you probably have heard of!! Does that sound too pretentious?
MP: This is Wesleyan—I’ve heard worse. Are you allowed to reveal when this is all going to be released?
AVP: Yes… I mean, I imagine so. I’m not working for the CIA so all signs point to ‘yes’. I’ll definitely shout it loud and proud—from a tweet—when it’s posted.
MP: Now that we’ve gotten all of that BORING (does capitalization denote sarcasm on g-chat??) stuff out of the way, I have some fun questions.
AVP: AMAZING. I feel like I should be asking you questions. What are you studying?
MP: I’m deciding between majoring in English and minoring in Film or double majoring in those. My ultimate dream end goal would be to do screenwriting.
AVP: You should totally pursue some sort of screenwriting thing. That would be amazing.
MP: Yeah…so right now, I’m just doing some writing, developing old stuff, jotting down whatever ideas I have for whenever I have a second to sit down and write.
AVP: It’s so easy to skip out on indulging little ideas like that when you have such a full course load and Wesleyan is happening around you. I used to keep a diary of every day of my life since the time I could write. At some point during my sophomore year, I just stopped. [The diary is] where I would write down, like, creative thought bubbles.
MP: It’s really important to do these little things. Who knows what those thought bubbles will flourish into some day? So…what is the most overrated acclaimed film, in your opinion? I love this question.
AVP: Ummm, is Inside Llewyn Davis acclaimed? I didn’t see what was so great about it.
MP: If you had to choose someone to write/direct/star in a film about your life—who would you choose??
AVP: You’re asking me some tough questions.
MP: You can choose all of these very arbitrarily.
AVP: I love Greta Gerwig, and I really related to her character in Frances Ha. Or Adéle Exarchopoulos from Blue is the Warmest Color. I feel like those two gals and I have very similar mannerisms. I definitely just googled Adele’s name and copy and pasted, also. I would want Hitchcock to have some sort of involvement because he’s a cinematic genius. Maybe he can direct it? Do you want to write it? NO. Wait, wait. I’ll have Scorsese direct—he would be sweet, doing something feminine maybe? It would be really interesting that way. This question is challenging. I need a more complete life story. I’ve got a trailer. Come back to me on this.
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