Ross School - Senior Project 2006-07

Student: Grant Curatola    

Mentor: Marie Maciak

Consultant: Mark Frankel

Domain: Media


Title: RED


For my senior project I decided to create a short fiction film. In the end I learned how to overcome the difficulties of producing, and managing a cast and crew. My goal was to successfully create a short film and submit it into local film festivals.

The film's protagonist, Vincent, is a young man opposed to spontaneity who obsessively relies on charts and empirical data.  He begins to feel as if he is losing control when work and personal life take unexpected turns.  Instead of dealing with life's challenges, he turns to isolation and fearfully confines himself into a hotel room.  The story zigzags between snapshots of past, present and imagined events in VincentŐs life.


Senior Project Photos


I decided to write, direct, and act in a short fiction film. I first came up with this idea to create a fiction film over the summer while at a summer film program at NYU. I had grown accustomed to making short comedies and I knew for my senior project I wanted to experiment with my weaknesses, which were writing and acting in a drama. My primary goals were to achieve balance in my filmmaking education, to successfully write, act, and direct in a short drama, and to overall become better as a storyteller. I have been making films since I was 12 years old, and I knew that I needed to work on my versatility in filmmaking, so I decided to go beyond what I knew and experiment not only with genre but with structure as well. I was inspired to create this type of story, of a man trying to find himself, by more modern films, which I thought was also a unique approach. I looked at the films Fight Club, Memento, and Old Boy. All of these films have common characters.

The first stages of the process were to assemble a simple story to work with while transforming my idea to a screenplay. I didnŐt want there to be a lot of dialogue so that when people were speaking they were saying things that were almost poetic, and had importance to the story. Since the beginning I knew that I wanted to experiment with structure. I wanted to rearrange the beginning middle and end, and blend in flashbacks and imagined events. Finding actors was simple because almost all of the characters were based on actual people that I am acquainted with. Next was to find locations, this was essential to show different times of the main characters life. After getting everything ready, I took out a calendar and started planning the shooting dates.

On the first day of production my acting arrived three hours late so I had to figure out an alternate way of using the time I had in the morning wisely. A big step of production was to explain each shot to the camera operator, and taking from the script and transforming it into a scene. After production came editing where I was given a second chance to direct. This is where I took all of my scenes and put them together. I came up with new ideas to make my film stronger such as voice over to further develop the insanity of the main character.

Some challenges I experienced were, time management, acting and directing, the abuse of digital effects, and writing seriously. Acting and directing was tough because I would have to get into character and then immediately after hearing the words ŇcutÓ I would assume the director role and set up the next shot. In editing I was my film to look gritty, but I just made the quality of film far from being able to broadcast. I was really nervous in the writing stages because I didnŐt want really dramatic lines to come out cheesy. I feared that when people were going to see the film they were going to laugh.

In the end I came out feeling like a director, having a crew and working as an actor/director. These are the things I am going to take with me into the future. I developed new strengths in writing and acting. I also feel confident in telling a dramatic story through the art of film.

In the future,  I will be attending NYU: Tisch School of the Arts, and am pursuing filmmaking and acting. I am currently working on four other film projects.

Works Consulted

Fight Club, Dir. David Fincher. DVD. 20th Century Fox. 1999.

A Man Escaped, Dir. Robert Bresson. DVD. Unknown. 1956.

Memento, Dir. Christopher Nolan. DVD. Paramount. 2000.

Old Boy. Dir Chan-wook Park. DVD. Tartan Film. 2003.

Community Member (Details)

I chose Mark Frankel as my community member because ever since 9th grade, I have admired his stories and found that we have a common taste in film and humor. I thought what better to work with someone I feel I have a lot in common with.