June 7th, 2017
An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!
Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 80 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.
For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews
Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
My parents were both heavily involved in the arts; everything from acting, painting, and songwriting. As a result, I was always comfortable expressing myself through multiple mediums. I grew up in Manhattan and was a professional child actor working on commercials and small TV roles until I was eleven when I moved to Vermont. After moving, I was in several local shows and musicals, gaining experience with stage performance.
Ironically, I decided to be a filmmaker after I left New York City and spent high school bugging my neighborhood pals to help craft my stories and music videos. I went to Burr and Burton Academy until my senior year, moved again and switched to Hartford High School.
Rochester Institute of Technology showed up on my college search radar and, after I visited, I applied early decision. In the fall of 2017, I’ll be a senior at RIT’s School of Film and Animation. It’s an awesome program, which was definitely the right choice for me.
What inspired you to be an entertainer? Early experiences worth sharing?
Of course it’s true that being a filmmaker comes from watching movies, and my parents shared their love of cinema with me, educating me in the history of cinema. As a creative individual, I think most of my inspiration came from reading books and my early acting career. Playing pretend and expanding your imagination seems to me the best way to later inspire your own stories.
After I moved to Vermont and began to make short films, I would mass-produce content. I made over thirty short films a year. I discovered I had an unnatural focus on creating films and honing my craft. With each passing year, there was an obvious improvement.
Some projects were great adventures involving insane hikes through the woods and discovering abandoned buildings or large ice caves (Vermont’s a crazy place).
What do you believe sets you apart from other entertainers?
I like to think I’m a funny and rational guy, but a lot of my work is dark and offers insight into some of my worst fears in a social and political sphere. I like to blend genres with my stories, never fully indulging in a simple drama, approaching things slightly more experimentally. For example, creating a drama which has horror elements through social commentary, or a story about grief represented through fantasy elements.
I like to build worlds and characters that offer something individual enough that you can fall in love with them. Bringing characters to life that make you question who you are or how you play a part in a larger picture is important to me. It helps me answer these questions about myself as well.
I also really love to collaborate. I consider myself a good manager and love to bring other forces of nature together for a larger project. It’s important to me that the people you work with you can get along with, and that digging out something special from one another for the project is an act of love and discovery.
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
I like to wear quite a lot of hats. I love to sketch and draw. I write songs and play piano. I act and voice act. I write and edit as well as direct films, and bike ride (from RIT to University of Rochester in ten minutes!).
Any projects you have out or currently working on?
Oh jeez. I took on a second fiction workshop production at RIT last semester, so right now a fifteen minute drama called BIG BAD is beginning its festival run alongside my film from the fall semester DEAR DARKENING GROUND.
BIG BAD is about a single-mother named Frankie whose sociopath-hitman-ex-boyfriend Lucas decides to crash in her basement. The film is about control and bravery as Frankie has to protect her daughter. DEAR DARKENING GROUND is about a young man who finds himself caught between the living and dead world in search of closure with his deceased lover. This film is about grief and love.
I’ve also been making this mockumentary about local actors in Rochester who have found themselves reoccurring in RIT films for years and years, only there’s a bit of a murder mystery wrapped up in it as well. The film is an honest-to-god doc when the actors are being interviewed about their experiences, but since I had all this awesome talent together for a few days, I wanted a chance to hide a fictional story in the film, even if the actors were playing themselves. Shooting took two days and it was just non-stop fun. Editing it has been a monster. It should be completed in the fall of 2017.
I have two small experimental projects that I’d love to get shot soon. The first examines the OCD qualities of how we protect our food, and the second is an experiment about darkness, but who knows when those will gain traction.
Of course, there’s the on-going endeavor that is FLIP THE SCRIPT. FLIP THE SCRIPT is a comedy web series about my real life film adventures. We have one more episode to finish for the third season which is in post-production. It’s been a long road with Flip this semester, so it’s somewhat fulfilling and sad to come to a conclusion for our last season.
Next year, I’ll be making my thesis, which is a dystopian thriller-horror-drama about an inner city kid avenging the murder of his best friend. It’s a commentary on a lot of the hate crimes and discrimination I’m seeing in the news in America. Should be an interesting time.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
In five years, I plan to continue making independent productions, whether that means music videos, shorts, experimentals, or feature films.
What advice can you give to aspiring artists/entertainers?
Keep making shit. Never stop writing, keep recording songs, never stop shooting films, never ever stop. I’ve found that even when taking a vacation or break, my mind is still creating new stories and script ideas and pre-producing the mechanics of the next thing I’m doing. Chasing the dream is living the dream.
How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
You can keep track of my films on my Vimeo channel. You can check FLIP THE SCRIPT on its own YouTube channel or Facebook page.