Good Life

First-time filmmaker finds footing with mockumentary

“Nyctophilia: How NOT to Make a Webseries” will be screened Sunday at the Rowland Theatre.
“Nyctophilia: How NOT to Make a Webseries” will be screened Sunday at the Rowland Theatre. Photo provided

When art imitates life, it really commits.

For example, the Aaron Salada that appears in “Nyctophilia: How NOT to Make a Webseries” has the same slender build and dark brown hair as the young, DuBois-based filmmaker of the same name.

Both 2-D Aaron and 3-D Aaron set out with a few friends to film a compelling psychological drama centered on a conversation between a psychiatrist and his patient.

Each of them encountered substantial difficulties along the way, including an incomplete script, a highly disorganized production — and this is where it starts to get really spooky — actors with scheduling conflicts.

Let my film be an example to all beginning filmmakers of just how chaotic a project can become when not organized well enough.

Aaron Salada

Still, the edge has to go to 3-D Aaron, who at least at the end came out the other side of all this with something to show for his troubles.

“Nyctophilia: How NOT to Make a Webseries” will screen on Sunday at the Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg.

Two parts mockumentary with a dash of cautionary tale thrown in for good measure, the series repurposes footage from the original “Nyctophilia” interspersed with candid interviews and pointed humor from the film’s cast and crew.

“Let my film be an example to all beginning filmmakers of just how chaotic a project can become when not organized well enough,” Salada said.

His was a project that was, in a sense, doomed by passion. Salada was so eager to get his story in front of a camera that he started production without a finished script.

If you’ve ever attempted to build house with only half of a blueprint, then you can feel his pain. For novices, imagine that same house collapsing on top of you and you’ll be up to speed.

“We eventually got the script done and it was fantastic, but we learned a lesson,” Salada said.

Maybe the problem was that the writing was too busy being on the wall. Salada and his crew had expected filming to be chaotic, sure, but sloppy scheduling and meal plan problems contributed to the tension that was already building on set.

And not of the romantic variety.

“Whether it was drama that was going on, people that wanted off, people getting made with each other, it was a mess,” Salada said.

When two of the actors finally did leave the picture, Salada knew that he had to get creative if he wanted to salvage something from the project. They had worked too long and too hard for it to all amount to nothing.

I’d rather have the comfort of knowing I followed my passion instead of settling for money.

Aaron Salada

A student at Penn State DuBois, Salada had waffled on a career in filmmaking. In school, he had always gravitated toward English and the visual arts, with the siren song of Hollywood seeming to offer the best of both worlds.

A livable wage, on the other hand ...

“I’d rather have the comfort of knowing I followed my passion instead of settling for money,” Salada said.

The films that influenced him the most had always dealt with darker subject matter — “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Fight Club,” “Pulp Fiction,” — but a mockumentary would allow him use the best of the footage the “Nyctophilia” crew had already shot, while still poking fun at its shortcomings.

His cast loved the idea and everyone agreed to return, only this time the actors would be playing themselves.

“I don’t think I could have learned this much about filmmaking even if I had interned for a Hollywood blockbuster,” Salada said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

IF YOU GO

What: “Nyctophilia: How NOT to Make a Webseries”

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: The Rowland Theatre, 127 N. Front St., Philipsburg

Info: www.rowlandtheatre .com

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