Montclair State University has excellent filmmaking and media programs where many thrive after graduation.
From “Hustlers” director Lorene Scafaria to “Saw” actor Tobin Bell, Montclair State has offered the resources and facilities to help those succeed in their industry.
Most of the time, you will notice the same students starring in and acting as the crew in each other’s movies.
With such talented filmmakers and an amazing student community came the creation of the Instagram account @msu.studentfilms.
Founded by filmmaking freshman Peter Di Prospero, the account highlights some of the greatest and newest talents at our university.
Di Prospero himself has his own short film, “SKULLDIVE,” a thriller that follows an internet game turned deadly.
Heavily involved with his community of filmmakers at Montclair State, he runs the Instagram account to show off his peers, and also created a Discord chat to help connect students to more opportunities within the university.
“The reason I made the [Montclair State] student films account was because I just found such [an] amazing community at the school,” Di Prospero said. “I really think [Montclair State] just has an amazing plethora of individual filmmakers who have come together.”
One of the showcased artists on Di Prospero’s account is Jenny Rose Asuzano. With the skills of filmmaking and music by her side, “Swap” director Asuzano is equipped to be a star.
“Swap” is Asuzano’s film about a girl who finds herself in an unusual predicament: her voice is swapped with her ukulele.
While “Swap” was a one-woman show, Asuzano has found her home at Montclair State.
“Montclair State has helped me because I had a lot of trouble making connections,” Asuzano said. “[It has also] taught me the common language [or] the vernacular of film students,”
Montclair State has not only given Asuzano friendship and great opportunities, but a chance to be her true self.
Asuzano recently came out as a transgender woman. Her bravery, beauty and creativity make her inspiring to many and a name to remember for years to come.
Another filmmaker who presents us with beautiful LGBTQIA+ stories is Sophie Jackson, a ray of sunshine that is often present in her work.
Jackson’s film, “Book Lover,” is an aesthetically beautiful short film centered around “a young girl’s quest for a new book [that] turns into a search for love.”
Jackson explains the community she has found at Montclair State and how it has helped her.
“My life is a lot of learning and collaborating with other student filmmakers,” Jackson said. “I’m truly getting to know what my strong suits are and what I gravitate naturally towards.”
Sophia “Bee” Montano’s work contributes to the list of important topics portrayed in Montclair State student films.
In Montano’s silent film “Out of Body,” we learn “about the discovery of one’s gender identity and all of the denial, confusion and frustration that comes with coming to terms with who you are.”
“Recently, I’ve wanted to make [more] LGBTQ-based stories,” Montano said. “I feel like there’s not much of that representation in the media.”
Montano’s goal is to be a cinematographer. With such a powerful start to their career, the possibilities for the future are endless.
Scott Ackerson takes us back to the love stories with his film “COUNTDOWN.”
Ackerson’s “sweet-yet-psycho” tale of romance shows us how “a lonely young man finally gets the love of his life … from a very unexpected place.”
Ackerson gave us some insight into his relationship with the craft.
“Filmmaking more than other mediums feels like a marriage between narrative and visual storytelling,” Ackerson said. “What you see on the frame and what you’re hearing are both just sort of working together to create a new whole piece of art.”
Last, but certainly not least, comes Esther Soca.
Soca is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet, and anyone would be lucky to work with someone like her.
Written and directed by Soca, “Ghosted” is the way-too-relatable tale of “a girl [who] gets ghosted by her crush at a Halloween party.”
Soca comments on how she still has so much left to do with her career.
“I know [being in] film is going to be a complete journey for me,” Soca said. “The ideas and goals I set for myself now could completely change.”
Someday, these artists who told their story will look back and remember their time at Montclair State, before their inevitable fame.