Two Manhattan College Students Named Semifinalists in the New York Cinematography Awards

A photo from the production of “The Perfect Roommate” KERRYSULLIVAN/ COURTESY

By: Isaiah Rosario, Assistant Sports Editor

Manhattan College juniors Kerry Sullivan and TJ Perez were selected as a semifinalist in the New York Cinematography Awards for their short-film “The Perfect Roommate” which was produced last fall in Professor Michael Grabowski’s COMM 350 Field and Postproduction course. 

The film is centered around three main characters which they named April, Danielle and Madison and takes place in their apartment. April comes back and finds out her direct roommate unexpectedly moved out on the week their rent is due. They begin scrambling to find a new roommate and they interview people who just get weirder and weirder as the film progresses. They eventually find a person on the day that the rent is due who is willing to move in and pay the rent. The film ends with a big plot twist. 

Sullivan spoke to The Quadrangle about what the application process was like for the New York Cinematography Awards. 

“The process for film festivals is that you submit your film for consideration and then the way the New York Cinematography Awards works is either you get selected, or you don’t get selected,” Sullivan said. “We made it to the quarterfinals and didn’t make it past the semis but it doesn’t matter because you still get the award of being a semi-finalist.” 

Although Sullivan and Perez did not make it past the semis, they were still ecstatic that their film made it to the point it did. 

“I found out [the film was in the semis] over break and I was just like logging into the website just to see if there were any updates and then like this giant thing popped up like congratulations, you’re semi-finalists,” Sullivan said. “I didn’t expect it, it was just so great to be recognized. Even if we didn’t win the $10,000 or whatever it was, it was great to know that not only was our movie good enough to be put forward but to make it past a round of judging.”

The nomination was a symbol of success to Sullivan, but it also held high value of worthiness to Perez as well. 

“It’s cool because I do a lot of players, I worked primarily in live theater and it’s kind of cool to have something that’s recorded that I can look back on and be like this is something that I did and not just like an abstract concept of a show that I was a part of once,” Perez said. “It’s cool for me because we did this huge project all semester long and it’s like, we got a good grade on it, but other people outside of an academic setting also thought that it was good and that it was worthy of something.”

Senior Julia Melchiorre spoke on what it was like to be an actor under Perez and Sullivan in her first acting role. 

“The process was smooth, really easy, really organized,” Melchiorre said. “We just figured out our schedule and when we could best meet. We were super efficient and productive because we all were really busy at that time of year.”

Creating a film comes with hours upon hours of dedication and hard work. Hard work, however, also comes with some bumps across the road. 

“[A lot of difficulties] were trying to find props and scheduling,” she said. “[Scheduling] was a little rough, we planned for a certain amount of time and then we kept filming over and so we had to push things around, which thankfully we had like the best people working with us.”

There were not only struggles on the producer side but there were struggles on the acting side as well, however, the team came together and overcame the obstacles.

“Some of the challenges were just of going in a little bit blind,” Melchiorre said. “I didn’t know exactly what to expect. On the flip side, that’s also the fun part of it. I had a lot of guidance from TJ and Kerry…I think that was super helpful to know how to shape my character and what their vision was and how to best emulate that to make their vision come to life.”

With a media and production concentration at Manhattan College, people aspire to take their work to the next level just like Perez and Sullivan. Perez gave a word of advice on what it takes to be a filmmaker. 

“We shot the entire thing in [Sullivan’s] living room like we wanted it to be attainable and I think it shows that filmmaking doesn’t have to be this grand thing that no one can do,” Perez said. “It’s very attainable. If you have a camera in a living room, and you can write it then you can write a script, you can shoot a film, and when I was in middle school I used to make terrible little movies with my friends and it’s like that but you know, I’ve learned how to do it a little bit better and it pays off. It’s nice that you can make a simple fun story about people being people and like anyone can do that.”