Lifeguards spark idea for students’ film project

NASHUA – Three Nash­ua students teamed up to create a film focusing on the dark side of unsung American heroes, the poolside lifeguard.

The film’s writers and creators are class of 2012 alumni from Nashua High School North, Dakota Lu­stick and Ethan Hogan, and NHS North class of 2016 senior Troy Lustick.

Called "The Guarder of Lives," the short film is set at Hampshire Hills in Milford featuring visiting professional actors from New York and Boston.

"It’s pretty much a character study about a lifeguard – a ‘guarder of lives,’ who takes himself too seriously," Dakota Lu­stick said.

"His idols are beach lifeguards," Hogan said. "But he’s just a pool life­guard," Lustick said.

Hogan and Lustick said the narrative dives into the idea of an American paradise using the dark psyche of the main charac­ter as juxtaposition. "Ev­eryone has that nostalgic dream of what America can be, and this character is a product of that," Lus­tick said, and referenced inspirational films such as "Midnight Cowboy" and "The Graduate."

The team has worked together in the past, with Hogan and Lustick win­ning "best editing" in the 2012 New Hampshire High School Short Film Festival with their work "Killing Time."

"Ethan’s the executive producer. He’s got really great sensibilities, really outstanding perspective," Lustick said.

Lustick’s younger broth­er, Troy, a senior at NHS North and current life­guard and video broad­casting and production student, is helping with the film too. "I’m involved in most of Dakota’s proj­ects," he said.

Using the setting of Hampshire Hills in Mil­ford, Dakota Lustick said they’re very focused on the film’s aesthetic. "Vi­sually, it’s a love letter to swimming pools."

Dakota and Troy Lus­tick have both works as lifeguards, and so has their father. "It’s semi-autobiographical," Troy Lustick said.

"Lifeguards are these super-aquatic knights, it’s this really glamorous, sexy position, and there’s a specific aesthetic for life­guards," Dakota Lustick said, noting the Red Cross imagery, life saving devic­es and CPR dummies.

The film isn’t for a school project or a specif­ic festival, but for its own sake. "It’s for passion. We just wanted to make it," Dakota Lustick said.

Once it’s done, the trio hopes to submit the film to a festival and possibly screen it locally. With en­trance fees to festivals to think about, the team set up an Indie GoGo funding site to help curb costs.

A New York-based ac­tor friend of Dakota Lu­stick, Jonathan Stewart, is spending time in New Hampshire to shoot the project.

Dakota Lustick has worked as an actor in Bos­ton and New York, but will be behind the camera for "Guarder of Lives."

Hogan and Dakota Lus­tick first met in 7th grade. Lustick said they had every class together, but didn’t talk until one day he said to Hogan "I have a feeling we’re going to be really good friends." Lu­stick laughed, recalling, "Ethan rolled his eyes and walked away."

The two are heading into their senior years in college. Hogan is studying journalism at UNH, and Lustick is majoring in po­litical science, having tak­en classes at both UMASS Amherst and Lowell.

They started shooting this week and are work­ing out details as they go. "We still have a lot to fig­ure out," said Lustick, but said he’s not worried.

They’ve had the idea for about four years, and were waiting for the right time. "We’re excited to see it," said Troy Lustick.

Anyone interested in supporting the project can visit the Indie GoGo site, www.indiegogo. com/projects/guarder-of-lives#/story. The team matches donations with a hierarchy of prizes