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  • Writer's pictureGabriel Rhenals

Blog Post #2: Retrospective - Mass Education (2003)

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

To commemorate my start as a filmmaker 15 years ago, I am sharing a retrospective series of write-ups dedicated to my past short film work that includes brief commentary for each short film as well as a few "fun facts" about their creation.

1/16. Mass Education (2003)

A high school student's place of solitude is threatened by a sweeping administrative move. Starring Sam Williams and Michael Hill.

My first short film. Made when I was 16. I hit the ground running back in 2002, when I started developing the idea for it. What precipitated the making of this short film was an already fervent and nearly life-long love of movies, an exponentially growing interest in filmmaking that grew out of an early knack for visual art and the result of scouring every local library for film-related books in a manic, autodidactic pursuit.

The idea was born out of the prevailing post-9/11 political climate of the early 2000s as well as dystopian novels assigned and alluded to throughout my middle and high school education. In fact, the name of the antagonist of the film, Principal Montag (played by my English teacher at the time, Mr. Hill), is a nod to Guy Montag, the protagonist of Ray Bradbury's 1953 novel, Fahrenheit 451. My 7th grade English teacher would be proud. Thanks, Ms. Siegel!

Fun Facts:

• For production, I built a rinky-dink Steadicam with parts purchased from Home Depot for $14 dollars. It was used in two scenes.

• Initially, the librarians at my high school, where the film was shot, did not allow me to shoot in its library. As a result, the shoot was delayed for 2-3 months. It wasn't until Principal Dawson read my script, became an ally and intervened on my behalf that I was granted complete access to the library for shooting.

• The choice to shoot the film in black and white was not a primarily aesthetic one but done to disguise the fact that my lead actor, Sam Williams, wore different colored pants throughout the shoot.

Festivals & Awards:

• Official Selection at the Slow Film Festival in Hungary, 2007

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