Alumnus Artist Spotlight: Peter Dolshun

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Published April 7, 2018
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The Montclarion
Peter Dolshun, the writer, producer and director of "What You Want It to Be," works behind the camera. Photo courtesy of Chantel Erin Photo credit: Chantel Erin

Montclair State University alumnus Peter Dolshun is a passionate visual artist and filmmaker that is turning his dreams into a reality. His newest short film, “What You Want It to Be” is centered around social media and its effects on human interaction.

Q: Elaborate on the inspiration and message behind “What You Want It to Be.”

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Actress Kathryn Palmer poses on a promotional poster for “What You Want It To Be,” a four-minute short film about social media and device addiction.
Photo courtesy of Peter Dolshun

A: “What You Want It to Be” (WYWITB) is the film I made for my thesis project at Montclair State. The idea came to me when I was on the bus and I saw that every single person besides one or two other people were glued to their phones. At the time I had been thinking about device addiction a lot, but that image was what triggered me to write the script. I knew I couldn’t just make a film where all the characters were staring at their cell phones, so I tried to think of a unique and thought-provoking way to convey my message. The ambiguous, comedic, experimental single-take short that is WYWITB was the result.

I hope that people watch my film and think about how our devices are affecting the interactions that make us human. The urge to share has become greater than the urge to experience. WYWITB is a representation of real life passing us by while we tailor our virtual life. I aim to make films revolving around current social topics, and this film has allowed me to express my feelings towards the ever-changing social climate around me.

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From left to right: Nick Capra, Alexa Werrlien, Duane Okun, Joseph Henderson, Lou Panico, Camille Marino, Kevin O’Leary, Natalie Farrel, Peter Dolshun, and Michelle Martinez on set for the short film “What You Want It To Be” in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Photo courtesy of Chantel Erin

Q: How has your experience as a student at Montclair State University impacted your career?

A: My experience at Montclair State University has impacted my career by allowing me to create a network of extremely talented friends and collaborators. The community of artists I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of has given me the confidence and drive to be the best filmmaker I can be.

Q: At what age did you become interested in filmmaking/visual arts?

A: I first became interested in filmmaking when I was a kid making funny videos with my friends but never considered it as a profession. It wasn’t until I was about 19 or 20 years old when I realized it was something that came naturally to me, and I could pursue a career in visual storytelling.

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Peter Dolshun graduated from Montclair State University as a filmmaking major last winter.
Photo courtesy of Chantel Erin 

Q: What has been the most interesting project you have been involved with?

A: The most interesting project I’ve been involved with is definitely my YouTube series, “10/10 Travel.It all started with some GoPro footage of my friends and me in Thailand. It blossomed into something that allowed us to express our creativity and sense of humor while traveling. We will be releasing our second season soon, which depicts a road-trip from Squamish, British Columbia to Lake Tahoe, California.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of making and directing films?

A: The most rewarding aspect of making and directing films is the connectivity of the process. From the connection you have with your crew members to the connection you make with your audience, creating something that brings people together is what I love. The process of growing an idea or a scribble on a napkin into a fully developed organism that can convey emotions through a screen is addictive and fascinating to me.

Q: Who are your biggest influences within your visual arts journey?

 

A: My two main influences with my visual arts journey have been director Quentin Tarantino and my sister Victoria. Tarantino’s film “Pulp Fiction” is what opened my eyes to unique, edgy and nonlinear storytelling. My sister is a mixed media artist whose work is truthful and bold. I’m inspired by her consistency, style and ability to create compelling visuals out of what is right in front of her.

Q: What long-term goals have you set for your career?

A: One of my long-term goals is to make feature-length independent films but not limit myself to just filmmaking and photography. I’d like to be knowledgeable in multiple artistic domains. I also plan on learning how to live self-sustainably and be able to stay “off the grid” for extended periods of time.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers and visual artists?

A: My advice to them would be to travel as often as possible. You never know where you’ll find inspiration for your next project, and a beautiful amount of growth can happen outside of your comfort zone.

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Dolshun directs his crew on set while shooting his short film, “What You Want It to Be.”
Photo courtesy of Chantel Erin 

For more of Peter Dolshun’s work, you can follow his accounts here: 

 

 

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