Scorsese makes directorial debut at FDU

FDU's College at Florham was the set of "Campus Life," a film co-directed by Catherine Scorsese this summer. Above, FDU students act as protesters for a scene for the film. (Part of the film’s plotline involves students protesting the demolition of campus buildings to build a strip mall. For more photos, check out the gallery on Facebook.

Story and photos by Dan Landau

Scorsese came to FDU to make a film this summer. Catherine Scorsese, daughter of Martin Scorsese that is. She and her co-director, Kenneth Waddell, filmed “Campus Life” at the College at Florham over the course of a few weeks in July.

Starring Jesse McCartney  of “All My Children” and “Summerland” and Conor Leslie of “Law & Order” and “90210,” “Campus Life” is a mystery set at a college campus. Revolving around the inexplicable disappearance of someone (into thin air!) at a party, “Campus Life” is the first full-length feature film made for the new JumpView video format.

“JumpView breaks down a film by character and time in short 2-5 minute ‘clips,’” says Michael Simon, producer and co-writer of “Campus Life.” “The viewer can choose which character to watch and how they want to watch them. Each character has their own complete story. However, multiple character's plot lines intersect so the more characters you watch, the more complete the story will be.”

More than 30 FDU students and alumni contributed to the film, mostly as extras, production assistants, and acting in bit parts. Courtnee Basista, a sophomore majoring in theater at FDU, interned with Simon and did all the casting for background and bit parts in the film. Casting was a new experience for Basista, and she enjoyed it, saying it was “by far the most amazing experience in my life.”

Working as campus casting director on “Campus Life” shined light on a career path Basista had not previously considered. Now, she wants to pursue a career in film production and casting.

For the students and alumni involved, working on the film was very educational. Nicole Lemaire, a 2011 FDU graduate and “Campus Life” production assistant, says “working on a film is a learning experience you can’t get in a classroom.” Several other student actors working on the film echoed this sentiment.

Keir Thompson, a senior studying theater, had several small parts in the film and he noted that the experience offered “insight on how the film industry really works.” Mikayla Petrilla, a sophomore double majoring in theater and communication, was an extra in the film. As an actress herself, she enjoyed watching the actors prep for each scene and found it interesting how they put on their characters’ personas.

Even non-film or theater majors got a lot out of volunteering with production. Paul Valdez, a sophomore and business management major, says the film shoots involved “long hours, but it was great to be a part of it.” 

Another student, film major Max Werkmeister, who worked as a production assistant, “turned down a job at a movie theater this summer to do this.” His advice to other students is to take opportunities like this whenever they come up, adding he “has no regrets,” in forgoing a paying job for the summer.

Besides the professional experience, students enjoyed mingling with the celebrities working on the film. “The biggest deal for me was meeting Jesse McCartney,” says Basista. “I grew up listening to [his music] and I used to watch his show ‘Summerland,’ so it was a tad surreal.” Besides McCartney, famed director Martin Scorsese and actor Ray Liotta of “Goodfellas,” were also involved with the film and made cameo appearances.

“Campus Life” is scheduled for release in October 2012 on Viewers will be able to watch the film online with their computer, smart phone, or iPad. 

Right, Catherine Scorsese confers with one of the crew members while filming "Campus Life."

Feature Story from the FDU Newsroom

FDU Office of Public Relations

   (Metropolitan Campus Office)
Dickinson Hall, Room 3365, H-DH3-1, Teaneck, NJ 07666

Dina Schipper,
Director of Public Relations
Fax: 201-692-7019

Kenna Caprio,
Communications Writer
Fax: 201-692-7019

Helen Grill,
Senior General Clerk
Fax: 201-692-7019

FDU Office of Public Relations

   (College at Florham Office)
East Cottage, Second Floor, M-EC2-01, Madison, NJ 08450

Scott Giglio,
Assistant Director of Public Relations
Fax: 973-443-8671

Daniel Landau,
Public Relations Assistant
Fax: 973-443-8671