Wandering the halls of Marion Knott Studios, you often come across some pretty amazing things. Just a few weeks ago, I happened to walk past Stage A, and saw a spectacular set being built. It had a very dream-like quality, with a brilliant blue background, white fluffy clouds, and a hot air balloon. I had to know what film it was, and quickly asked the closest person to point me in the direction of the person in charge.

It turns out that it was Ryan Hoskins’ (MFA/Film Production ’16) graduate cycle film
The Real Thing
. When asked what the film is about, Hoskins said love: searching for it, and what we are willing to do to find it.

“The story came out of desperation and spite, honestly,” said Hoskins. “Two of my scripts in the cycle development class were shot down, so I basically just was free writing ideas. I stuck with this idea of a guy who goes on a date with another guy who isn’t really into him…but also added a bunch of fantasy elements into it, like clouds and dolphins. I thought ‘This will never happen.’ But the teacher loved it, and once he was committed to it, I was locked into pulling it off!”

this weird love story, and the weird things that it makes you do. It takes place in two realities: the real one and the fantasy one that the lead character creates inside his head,” said producer Elliott Reekers (MFA/Film and Television Producing ’16). Reekers was a fan of Hoskins’ previous work, and requested to work with him on whatever his next project was, which turned out to be
The Real Thing

“I read the script, and loved it. But then I went into producer mode and thought ‘How am I going to do this?’” said Reekers.

Part of pulling it off feel to production designer Rahma Farahat (MFA/Production Design ’16), who was responsible for the unique look of the film.

On the set of a student production

“He sent me the script, and I was totally intrigued by it,” Farahat said. “When we met for the first time, to see if I wanted to work on the film, Ryan was talking about the things I was going to make, and how amazing they were going to be. He was convinced I was going to do it…and he was right!” The scope of the film is very grand, and Hoskins knew she was the one to pull it off.

Hoskins decided to shoot on film, because it would add to the overall look of the story. However, shooting on film, as opposed to digital, did make for some interesting constraints. For starters, there was no way for him to view scenes immediately after they were shot, so he had to make sure he got what he wanted when they did it. Also, because of the expensive nature of film, he limited himself to about two takes per scene, preferring to get it right in rehearsals, and then capture it on camera.

“I’m kind of a control freak, so limiting my options made it easier for me to focus on the task at hand,” Hoskins said.

The film was shot on Stage A over 4 days, most of them 12 hours long. They had a crew of about 30 people total, and they all had a great time working together. Though it was a big undertaking, it was definitely an experience they were remember for a long time.

“I really learned that I shouldn’t be afraid to take on tough tasks,” Reekers said of the film. “It really gave me confidence, and I can’t wait for the next project to bring all these crazy talented people together. But first, I’m only 2/3 of the way done with this film…we still have to go through post production!”