East Brunswick grads recognized for success at film festival

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By STEVEN VIERA
Staff Writer

EAST BRUNSWICK — Thanks to the cinematic successes of several residents, the township may need to consider installing a walk of fame.

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Five graduates of East Brunswick High School and residents of the township attended the TERMINUS Film Festival, which took place June 16-19 in Atlanta, Georgia, where their productions and performances earned several awards.

TERMINUS is an event for filmmakers as well as gamers, creators and fans who, according to its website, aim to “support the next generation of artists as they create, develop and share their stories with the world.” It is organized by Campus MovieFest (CMF), which partners with over 30 colleges and universities, and Ideas United (IU), an award-winning creative studio.

In recognition of their achievements at TERMINUS, Mayor Kevin McEvoy issued each of the five attendees a proclamation celebrating their work at a Township Council meeting on July 25.

Zack Morrison, currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in screenwriting at Columbia University, is a veteran of CMF events. For the past six years, Morrison has worked with IU and even participated in the Cannes Film Festival — twice — with films he submitted to CMF as a student at Rutgers University.

This year, the film he submitted to TERMINUS was “Captain Cyborg,” which featured an imaginative boy who created a costume of his favorite superhero and dove into his fantasy world in order to cope with bullying, and Morrison was “very surprised” when he won the award for Best Short Film.

“Growing up in East Brunswick you always hear about how important the arts are, but the overwhelming support for this project by everyone in town has instilled in me a great sense of pride,” he said.

Recent Rutgers graduate Jacob Paul made short films as a boy and was exposed to professional filmmaking as a production assistant on a student film by his cousin, a Columbia University student.

Paul starred in the lead role of his friend Tyler Terrible’s short film, “A Tight Ship,” in which a group of office workers mutiny against their oppressive boss, and his performance earned him the award for Best Story in the actor/production/crew category.

“The most interesting thing about all of this is how much creative talent exists in our town and how so many talented East Brunswick residents came to be involved with TERMINUS at the same time,” he said. “I hope the success of myself and everyone else recognized by the township will inspire the creativity of other East Brunswick residents.”

Paul, who enjoys filmmaking “because of its potential for collaboration,” praised the hard work and talent of the people behind the production of “A Tight Ship.” He hopes to find a job in creative visual media soon, although he has given some thought to film school in the future.

A passion for drawing inspired Tyler Letson to begin making films — spending hours drawing characters from “The Simpsons” as a child, he says, sparked his interest in animation. His animated film, “Now You’re Gon’ Learn All Bout Science With Boomer,” which teaches sixth-graders about science, won a Jury Award as well as a Silver Tripod Award for best editing.

Aside from having his film screened — and win — Letson enjoyed TERMINUS because of the opportunities to network with animators and sit in on panels and workshops with industry professionals.

Letson, who recently transferred to the Laguna College of Art and Design in California, was grateful to East Brunswick for recognizing his achievements and its support of the arts.

“It is awesome that East Brunswick supports creative minds; I think it is vital in a community,” he said.

Lauren T. Loesner, who went from pretending her grandmother’s egg beater was a camera as a child to a student at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers, submitted a film to TERMINUS on the advice of a friend and fellow East Brunswick resident.

“I got involved in TERMINUS and the CMF competition through a referral from Zack Morrison,” she said. “[He] thought I had a shot at being able to compete successfully within Rutgers, and then the rest of the country.”

Her film, “Artist Profile: The Sex Twins,” which she described as “almost 100 percent ad-libbed,” pokes fun at both the contemporary artistic community and “the type of man-hating feminism that gets a lot of attention from the masses.” It earned Loesner a nomination for Best Production Design.

“Being recognized by the town that gave me the tools and the freedom necessary to develop my creative voice was gratifying and very humbling,” she said. “It feels good to know that East Brunswick is, and continues to be, a township that supports artists, dreamers and creative innovators just as much as they do for any other field.”

A fifth honoree, Kathleen Elle, won first place in the music category for The Elfenworks Social Justice Prize for her song, “Don’t Let Them In,” but she was unable to attend the council meeting to receive her proclamation. The Elfenworks Foundation partners with CMF as a way of using art to inspire social justice.

For more information and to view some of the films screened at TERMINUS, visit www.campusmoviefest.com.

Contact Steven Viera at sviera@gmnews.com.

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