New Expression

WILTON – Filmmaking is a wondrous process, and one that captivates just about everybody who gets involved in it. But when you think about those Hollywood big-hitters, such as Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante and Tim Burton, you have to bear in mind that they all started somewhere. At one point, when they were kids, somebody handed them a camera and invited them to put their visions on the screen.

That’s exactly what Andy’s Summer Playhouse is doing this summer, as they unveil their new series of Film Workshops, to be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday through Friday, during the weeks of July 27 to Aug. 7. The resulting films will be shown at the Playhouse on Aug. 10 and 11 at 7:30 p.m.

The workshops will be helmed by former Andy’s Kid JP Sarro, who has gone on to a successful career as a filmmaker and an actor. This is then, in a sense, something of a homecoming for him, as he guides younger aspirants into the world of visual entertainment.

“I was born in Concord, New Hampshire, not too far from Andy’s,” Sarro said in a recent interview. “I performed there from 1991 to 1997, and was involved in a bunch of different plays, as well as working in a number of workshops. From there, I went to Emerson College, where I studied Show. When I graduated, I moved to Los Angeles, where I worked in the editing suite of some major movie studios. I edited a number of television shows, such as ‘911’ and worked on a film titled ‘Premonition,’ starring Sandra Bullock. At that time, I worked with some great film editors, people who had worked on ‘Dances With Wolves,’ the Johnny Cash biography ‘Walk The Line’ and ‘Born On The Fourth of July.’ I learned a lot from these guys, which led me to shoot and edit my own film, a documentary entitled ‘Lucky Me,’ about a duck, which was accepted into film festivals around the world and was seen in Thailand as well as all over the United States.”

Of course, life being what it is, his career didn’t exactly follow a straight line, and he found himself treading the boards again.

“After that, I got back into acting, sort of as a hobby,” Sarro said. “As it turned out, it developed into a career. I did a lot of musicals in and around Los Angeles, as well as a number of commercials. Then my wife and I moved to New York City, where we both became involved in a lot of theater productions.”

Having hit the big time in show business, Sarro never forgot his roots, and jumped at the chance to be working at Andy’s again.

“I’m really excited to be coming back to Andy’s,” he said. “It’s kind of a neat little homecoming. It’s funny, really – they did a film workshop years ago, before I went to college. I was always kind of bummed out about the way it turned out, as I ended up always being brought in at the last moment to help out with the editing and the overall production of the film. At the time, I was always thinking that this wasn’t the way to do it. I’d taken some workshops up in Maine at the International Film and Television Workshops, an loved the way they did it. Basically, they would give you some technical fundamentals on how to make a movie, and then they would have everyone write their own scripts. We would then review these and all vote on them. The two scripts that got the most votes were the ones that ended up being produced.”

Sarro pointed out that, this way, each individual student gets to experience some specific aspect of the moviemaking process.

“Every parent wants their kid to be the director,” he said. “But, if you have ten kids in the class, it just isn’t feasible to produce ten movies within a two-week period. This way, everyone in the group gets to become part of that production in some fashion. The writers could opt to direct or not to direct, and hand that position over to someone else. That way, even if you didn’t get a chance to direct, you would still be part of the process, whether it be through lighting, setting up compositions, and so on.”

Sarro feels that this workshop will spark a lifelong love of movies in the students, and perhaps even encourage some of them to become involved in professional filmmaking later in their lives.

“We’re going to really get into the theory and aesthetics of film,” he said. “I want to help them develop a real appreciation of the magic of making movies. It’s all about how the images that end up on the screen can create such incredible emotions in the audience.”

Registration for the Andy’s Summer Playhouse Film Workshop ends June 27. For more information, call the playhouse at 654-2613 or email info@andys
summerplayhouse.org.