New Media Research: The Making of a Short Film

Anthony Collamati’s short film, ‘Break My Bones,’ produced with a crew that included Alma College students and alumni, has been screened at several notable film festivals.

<em>Anthony Collamati, right, on the set with a crew member.</em> Anthony Collamati, right, on the set with a crew member.Faculty do research. They get involved in their fields and get their hands dirty because they love what they do and can’t get enough of it. But research in the new media field is a bit different. New media scholars make things: graphics, music, websites or — in Anthony Collamati’s case — films.

Collamati, assistant professor of new media studies at Alma College, co-wrote a 23-minute short film with his friend and colleague David Haynes, instructor of English at Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities. They began filming their project, titled Break My Bones, in Muncie, Ind. in July 2015.

“The film emerged from a personal place for both of us,” says Collamati. “We are parents to young children, and we had shared stories about how we and our children deal with the most difficult crises.”

<em>Filming on the set.</em> Filming on the set.Collamati recalls fond memories of when he and Haynes had worked together on a screenplay in Chicago. When the inspiration struck for Break My Bones, they got to writing.

“We took a bizarre and tragic event that occurred in David’s neighborhood and brainstormed ways to combine the mystery of an old man’s death with the drama of young adolescence,” says Collamati. “The result was Break My Bones.

“We wanted the film to work on at least two levels as a thriller with horror signifiers that any film lover could enjoy and as a personal film that circulates difficult and honest questions about life and death, parenthood and growing up.”

A Fantastic Way to Grow as a Filmmaker’

They assembled a crew made up of industry professionals, many of whom had just finished filming It Follows and Batman vs. Superman, as well as Alma College students and alumni. The crew included two future Scots who just couldn’t wait to get their feet wet in the new media studies program.

<em>Emily Brubaker</em> Emily Brubaker“Being an incoming freshman, this opportunity was absolutely amazing,” says Megan Wilcox. “I have known that I would like to work in the film industry since I was eight years old. Coming into college, though, I was second-guessing whether or not I was cut out for film. This experience really cemented that for me — I know that is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

While this was the first taste of film for some students, others have had many opportunities to be on set. Recent graduate Jon Clark has directed several of his own short films under Collamati’s instruction at Alma and also had the opportunity to participate in the production of Break My Bones as the film’s second assistant director.

“Working alongside some seasoned industry professionals was truly a fantastic way to grow as a filmmaker,” says Clark. “They had it down to a fine science. It was kind of amazing to see, but also really encouraging because I kept thinking, ‘I could learn to do that.’”

Accepted Into Notable Film Festivals

In post-production, Collamati called upon several talented professionals from as far away as Denmark, Italy and Australia and just like that, what started as a two-man project in Michigan and Indiana quickly became an international production.

<em>David Haynes</em> David Haynes“[David and I] both believe strongly in creating an environment in which a team can perform at their best while also giving individuals a chance to make their own contributions,” says Collamati. “We believe wholeheartedly that providing freedom to our creative and technical team made for a stronger film — and one that is personal for others, too.”

To date, Break My Bones has been accepted into three notable film festivals. The film won first prize for Best Cinematography at the Rhode Island International Film Festival and “Best Thriller” at the Hollyshorts International Festival in Hollywood, Calif. It also was screened at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal. 

Collamati and Haynes are hoping to continue their festival momentum on the national and international level before eventually making the film available for purchase on DVD, Blu-Ray and online.

Story published on August 11, 2016