Montclair State Student Yak Ferstenberg’s Short Film Reignites Fall Romance


Published October 10, 2022
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The Montclarion
Junior communication and media studies major Marcus Moore works as a boom operator. Photo courtesy of Jackie Memoly

Yak Ferstenberg, a sophomore filmmaking major, comes to life while directing his upcoming short film, “Miranda and Arnold’s Tango.” The film was shot at Montclair State University’s psychic fair, an event held on campus, giving insight into students and staff’s ever-compelling fate, which inevitably becomes a plot device in the love story crafted by Ferstenberg himself.

Inspired by Ferstenberg’s own experiences, the short film revolves around a student named Miranda (Elise Ramaekers) with a history of unsuccessful attempts at romance. Her friend sets her up on a blind date with student government president Arnold (Tyler Diminick), though she quickly finds he is dry and robotic. Her patience is tested as they both try to forge a meaningful connection, compelled by psychic omens along the way like a business card inscribed with the words, “You know what to do.”

Pictured (left to right): Jake Tannenbaum, Cheyton Villaluz, Yak Ferstenberg, Rocky the Red Hawk, Montclair State University students

Filming happened at the campus Psychic Fair. Photo courtesy of Jackie Memoly

Ferstenberg spoke on what pushed him to create his film.

“The original [psychic fair] I went to, that was the main inspiration for this,” Ferstenberg said. “Last year [there] was such a long line, and I thought to myself, ‘Man, people are waiting [so long] just to see psychics, just for five minutes of pleasure.’”

Sophomore filmmaking BFA student Yak Ferstenberg is directing his own short film. Photo courtesy of Jackie Memoly

Sophomore filmmaking major Yak Ferstenberg is directing his own short film.
Photo courtesy of Jackie Memoly

Thus, the idea for the film was born. But it didn’t end there. Months of preparation and productivity have gone into the production of this film and will continue even further.

“I finished writing the first draft of this script in December of last year,” Ferstenberg said. “This script is very personal. It’s a way of expressing myself. I think there’s a lot of innovation in this [film] because no one’s really done this before.”

He continues with the creative liberties he’s taken since the early stages of pre-production up to today.

“[The film] breaks all the rules of any kind of film to [a] convention that you’d find,” Ferstenberg said. “These are fictional characters in real life. The only way this was going to be achieved was at this fair, with this line, with these tables. This is perfect.”

Jacob Kelly, a senior film and television major and the assistant director of the film, manages his own filmmaking company and often collaborates on and oversees student productions.

“[Though] it’s not the professional atmosphere I’m used to, It’s nice to see people who are excited to make films,” Kelly said.

Pictured: Jacob Kelly, Assistant Director, part-time film student, production consultant

Assistant director Jacob Kelly notes that passion is necessary behind all filmmaking.
Photo courtesy of Jackie Memoly

He notes that passion is necessary behind all filmmaking in order to produce a noteworthy viewing experience.

“Film is a super art of all types of forms,” Kelly said. “It’s going to be a very individual experience. I think everybody should see this. It’s going to be very special — if not to [Ferstenberg], then to somebody.”

And luckily passion is not absent here at Montclair State. While filming, Rocky the Red Hawk even made a surprise appearance. The actors of both Arnold and Miranda had to rely on their improvisation skills to heed the interruption, but they were amused by the encounter.

“I’m so happy that Rocky interrupted one of our takes,” Ferstenberg said. “That was so funny, and hopefully I’ll put that in the film.”

Rocky the Red Hawk made an appearance at the filming location, Montclair State's Psychic Fair. Photo courtesy of Jackie Memoly

Rocky the Red Hawk made an appearance at the filming location, Montclair State’s Psychic Fair. Photo courtesy of Jackie Memoly

Personality and flexibility are key to creating impactful media, be it from the cast themselves or the director and crew. But even with setbacks, cinematographer Jake Tannenbaum, a junior filmmaking major, sees the benefit in this.

“[Montclair State] gives people an opportunity to try different things out with other people who don’t have a lot of experience,” Tannenbaum said. “There’s no damage done; it’s safe.”

Pictured (left to right): Marcus Moore, Jake Tannenbaum, Cheyton Villaluz

(left to right): Marcus Moore, Jake Tannenbaum and Cheyton Villaluz help in the filming.
Photo courtesy of Jackie Memoly

Junior communication and media studies major Marcus Moore, who works on set as a boom operator, agreed.

“Everyone who wants to create something should be able to,” Moore said. “And that, in [and] of itself, makes [this film] worth being seen.”

Unfortunately, some unexpected obstacles arose amidst filming, and production had to cease, but it will inevitably resume again in early November and will be finished around mid-December. Additionally, around winter break or early January, the short will be circulated for public viewing to a few local film festivals including Montclair State’s “Silver Slate.”

Be on the lookout for Ferstenberg’s short film reigniting a compassionate, artful warmth as days trickle into winter.

“I have a voice,” Ferstenberg said. “And I believe my voice needs to be heard.”

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