A Passion for Film: Charles Frank ’13 Aims for Sundance

Junior year at The Williston Northampton School is a busy one under the best of circumstances for most students, but it is particularly hectic for Charles Frank. At 17, Charles is already an accomplished filmmaker with an impressive resume. And if things go as planned, he will celebrate senior year with other filmmakers at the Sundance Film Festival.

Charles’s short film, “Breezless” won best picture at this year’s Williston Northampton, an honor he received last year, as well. The festival, which received entrants from both independent and public high schools, is an annual event that began in 2007 and continues to grow every year.

Last summer, Charles found an internship on the set of the feature film, “April Grace.” He researched the opportunity online, and he spent the summer working on the film in New Jersey. It was, “truly a transformational experience for me. It was really exciting to finally get to commune with fellow filmmakers,” said Charles about his work on “April Grace.” During his time, Charles shared “Elevate,” his film from the 2011 Film Festival, with the “April Grace” team, and they were so impressed with his work that they not only encouraged him, they agreed to produce his next short film.

Building on an idea from his friend Zachary Kornfeld, Charles talked to “April Grace” screenwriter, George Murray, who has been a finalist in the Final Draft screenwriting competition. Mr. Murray was so interested in the project that he wrote a script basked on the idea in just a week. “April Grace” director Andrew Hutcheson came on board as the short film’s producer, and this fall, casting began. “Zachary’s story stuck with me, and soon enough I decided it was time for me to make the story my own.”

The film, “Doodle,” is the story of an artistic genius held back by the academic expectations of her traditional Chinese mother. Cathy Wong, the mother, pushes her daughter Anne, the film’s protagonist, down a predetermined path toward becoming a doctor. Academics come first to Mrs. Wong, and everything else is secondary. Anne’s unspoken passion is art, but because of her mother’s expectations, her only outlet for creative expression is doodling.

“Doodle” began filming in late March 2012, and some external shots for the movie took place on the Williston campus. Casting was held in both New York City and Boston earlier this year. Charles is directing the project, and many of the crew members from “April Grace,” including cinematographer Shane Seibel, joined the professional crew of 45.Mr. Hutcheson, in addition to producing the film, is lending Charles his RED EPIC to shoot “Doodle.” The RED ONE M-X (the RED EPIC’s predecessor) has been used on such films as “The Social Network,” “The Pirates of the Caribbean,” and “True Grit,” among other major motion pictures.

“I am truly humbled by the level of support I am receiving from professionals in all areas of the industry. A project like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It takes a certain level of commitment and teamwork to get a project of this magnitude off the ground,” said Charles. “I could not be more excited for the first day of shooting. Filmmaking is my passion, and I feel as though this project will be my first big step into the industry.”

To learn more about “Doodle” and to track the film’s progress, visit here.

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