“David Lynch,” Erin Grunbeck, CSOM ’16, spoke up without hesitation.
Emily Olander, CSOM ’16, replied with cold eyes.
Disagreement hung in the air and a heated exchange followed.
Different opinions, but common passions. Something a third party can appreciate from a distance.
Emily Sadeghian, A&S ’16, Olander, and Grunbeck formed BCollective, an on-campus film-making group, this past September with the intent of acting on those common passions. When the classroom did not satisfy, independent film projects became their natural recourse.
“The issue with our assignments is that they’re very constrained,” Grunbeck said. “With every piece we put out, it was dictated by a professor, and you make it under the presumption of pleasing that professor. We felt like we really wanted to break that bubble.”
BCollective is meant to allow its members creative freedom of expression that may not be as endemic to the classroom. The club has since written and voted on scripts, held auditions, and filmed independent of the curriculum.
Since the group’s inception earlier this year, Olander, Sadeghian, and Grunbeck have been hard at work recruiting other students to their cause, assembling a multi-talented group of students who specialize in everything from scriptwriting, to technical production work, music, and of course, acting.
BCollective also intends to extend its membership beyond students of the Boston College film department.
“We started brainstorming how we could expand it and make it more of a collaborative effort around campus,” Grunbeck said. “We wanted to tap into the different arts on campus, like the radio kids for music, the theatre kids for acting, and others for sound design.”
BCollective has grown to an operating size of around 30 students from various backgrounds and interests.
Even for students who aren’t pursuing their artistic passions full-time through their majors, BCollective offers an outlet for their expression.
Olander and Grunbeck themselves are students of the Carroll School of Management who pursue their passions through minors in the film studies department.
“We wanted to contribute to a community of arts here at BC … it’s interesting to see what everyone can bring to the table,” Olander said, referring to the variety of students participating in the group. “People’s minds work really differently … when you ask them to be creative, all of that comes out.
“We try to be as democratic as possible … we wanted to make everyone [have] an equal stake in the club,” Olander said regarding the group’s organization. “Hence the name ‘Collective’ … it’s been a really nice, supportive environment thus far.”
“It’s not one person’s ‘thing,’” Olander said. “We didn’t want there to be egos involved … we don’t give ourselves any more power than anyone else in the club. It’s more just logistical things.”
Such a group requires everybody to wear many hats during the various stages of production. The same person who wrote the script may end up holding the boom-mic as needed.
The three founders try to remain the organizational leads rather than the aesthetic dictators of the group. The goal of which is the main driving force behind the collective nature of the group, trying to understand the person’s original intentions while still trying to make it better.
BCollective has enlisted the help of one faculty member who has given the group an ultimate goal and potential defining moment. Carter Long, a professor in the film studies department, doubles as the film curator for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (MFA).
“Google him, he’s incredible,” Grunbeck said.
Supporting students through providing informal mentorship, Long has given BCollective the opportunity to debut its works at an MFA exhibition in late spring. The productions created by BCollective between now and the end of spring will then be presented to a third party of museum-goers, who will double as film critics. The group is hoping to have roughly 45 minutes of film split between several shorts to exhibit at the MFA.
The opportunity is imposing, and every mention of the prospect of the premiere prompted a mix of determination and apprehension between them.
“It’s nerve-wracking,” Olander remarked, glancing at Grunbeck, who silently affirmed the sentiment. Classroom scrutiny is ample cause for trepidation, but public scrutiny raises these fears to a new level.
The group takes heart, however.
“Knowing your story is going to be screened at the MFA is something that will ultimately really drive people,” Olander said, believing in the group’s ability to draw encouragement from the opportunity.
The group’s ability to navigate the early stages of screenwriting and role casting lends further encouragement to their goals.
Several months into its foundation, the group still encourages the prospect of new talent for the task.
“If you want to put in the time commitment, we’re willing to have you on board,” Olander said.
“There’s definitely people who are interested, but we may not have been able to get ahold of … We’d love to have more help, it’s a huge undertaking,” Grunebeck said.
For the members of BCollective, the arrival of spring at BC will be colored with the anxieties of their impending deadline.
But for now, its members are steady at work, applying their various talents to meet their own expectations of the premiere. Their first production has entered its filming stages, and the group is well underway to achieving its goal.
Featured Image by John O’Nolan / Flickr.com