Detroit Country Day School high school film students premiered their short feature film, “365: A Paranormal Thriller,” Nov. 30 at the Maple Theatre.

Detroit Country Day School high school film students premiered their short feature film, “365: A Paranormal Thriller,” Nov. 30 at the Maple Theatre.

Photo provided by Detroit Country Day School


High school film students aim for Hollywood

By: Linda Shepard | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 3, 2018

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — A short feature-length film created by Detroit Country Day School high school students is on its way to the film festival circuit.

“We had a cast of four and a crew of 16,” DCDS film program director and teacher Brett Salamin said. “This group of students showed up as freshmen, and after years of taking classes, they are making feature-length films.”  

Their completed movie, “365: A Paranormal Thriller,” premiered Nov. 30 at the Maple Theatre. Student Amber Aktar, a DCDS senior, wrote the script.

“It is the story of four friends,” she said. “They wake up in a place they don’t know to face each other and their mistakes. It was really fun to see a script that I wrote come to life.”

Salamin said his filmmaking classes are filled mostly with female students, who are passionate about the execution of film projects from behind the camera. He believes this interest will affect the future of an industry that has been traditionally dominated by men.

“Right now, Hollywood is bereft of women in power,” he said. “This program is exploding.”

“I really want to go to film school,” said DCDS senior Fatima Zeni, who served as  first assistant director of “365: A Paranormal Thriller.”  

“The cool thing is that every person matters. If you watch the credits after a movie, it takes so many people to make a film. Actors bring the thing to life, but filmmaking — coming up with the story and executing it — is really cool,” Zeni said.

Camryn Tynan, a DCDS senior, served as the student film’s main camera operator.

“I do a lot of film at school, take a lot of film classes and do a lot on my own,” Tynan said. “I enjoy all the aspects of making film.”

Tynan said she envisions a career for herself in the industry.

“I’m applying at several film schools,” she said. “It’s very hard to get in. A lot of the programs are really competitive.”     

As the “365: A Paranormal Thriller” director of photography, DCDS senior Julia Stankiewicz said she was challenged every moment of filming.

“I had to think of new shots on the spot  — every day, going in with something in mind — and also thinking about all the lighting,” she said. “As a thriller, there was a lot of dark and scary lighting.”      

Next, the short feature will be submitted to several film festivals, Salamin said. After that, the film will be available for streaming.

“My students are amazing,” Salamin said. “I’m not sure that anyone else is doing this anywhere else in the country.”