A walk down “Fifth Street”

A&E goes behind the scenes of the latest student production

Last fall, a group of University students decided to make a film. They aimed to submit the final product product — a narrative short film, done with professional equipment and set to its own original score — to national, regional and student film festivals, including to the Sundance Film Festival. The script for “Fifth Street” was completed by Winter Break and the crew will travel to Warrenton in mid-May for the shooting.

Warrenton, though located in Northern Virginia, does not boast the same suburban scenery extended to the rest of the area. “Downtown” has been the same since the 1800s. Railroads lie at the outskirts, and beyond that lies farmland as far as the eye can see. It could be any rural town in America.

“Fifth Street” writer and director Brendan Rijke, a third-year Batten student, says the crew chose to shoot in Warrenton because of its small-town aesthetic. The film offers a glimpse into the relationship between 20-year-olds Adèle (played by third-year College student Mary Claire Davis) and Alex (played by second-year College student Dan Barr).

Alex is content with life in his hometown, but Adèle yearns for more; she dreams of moving to New York City to become a writer. The title, “Fifth Street,” comes from the name of the street on which Adèle lives, and from which she feels she must escape. The film explores how place and setting affect psychology.

Rijke and his crew have the cinematic and artistic competence to backup their ambitions. Rijke has taken several film and media studies classes, and as filmmaking is his passion outside of class, he knows it well.

Rijke has a strong background in still photography, not unlike famous American film director Stanley Kubrick. Rijke has also trained as a filmmaker — specifically, as a film editor — via internships in Richmond, and through the past two years he has created experimental shorts, but nothing with a true narrative.

Producers Niki Afsar and Shane Dutta, both third-year College students, collaborated with Rijke on the screenplay.

“Fifth Street” is “grounded in the truth — with a lowercase ‘t,’” Rijke said.

The film is not truthful in a moralistic sense of the word, but captures life as we experience it. Rijke said most movies we watch are plot heavy, a norm which is not true to reality. Rather, life is driven by daily experiences and mundane moments, which mean little, if anything, at the time. With reflection on the everyday, Rijke finds an underlying narrative that makes sense of and gives meaning to the quotidian.

In inarguably complex art form, filmmaking offers Rijke a comprehensive challenge — organizing everything from script writing to sound mixing.

With a group of dedicated designers on board, “Fifth Street” promises to offer an intimate, forceful narrative.

Visit the “Fifth Street” Facebook and Kickstarter pages for more info and updates.

Published April 14, 2014 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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