Audiences at this semester’s Silver Slate Film Festival were treated to a viewing of “Grease Monkey.”
“Grease Monkey” follows Herbie Hoffman, played by junior communication and media studies major Nick Najarian, and his paid companion Candy, played by sophomore theatre studies major Lucy Sturm. Herbie and Candy spend time together while Herbie attempts to become a successful writer, but he is extremely lonely and out of touch with reality.
This film stood out at the festival, and it wouldn’t be possible without the mind behind it, sophomore filmmaking major Josh Carmona.
Carmona, from East Windsor, New Jersey, is a writer, director and musician, to name a few things. He is also a very active member of Montclair State University’s film community, Carmona has certainly left his mark on his peers and Montclair State.
“Grease Monkey” was Carmona’s first big filmmaking project and inspired a new career path for himself – directing.
“I sort of fell in love with directing because of ‘Grease Monkey,'” Carmona said. “I didn’t realize that I wanted to say as much as I did. ‘Grease Monkey’ was the first film I made out of like, pure, pure energy of, ‘I want to make this.’ Not out of some kind of feeling of, ‘Okay professor, here’s my movie about bullying.'”
Carmona explained his thought process that resulted in “Grease Monkey.”
“I kind of felt annoyed with the kinds of people that you meet in creative spaces who pretend like they’re great artists when they’re children or idiots or something like that,” Carmona said. “And I wanted to also make a movie about how someone like that would interact with women because I see people in these spaces who are really creepy or weird or make women feel uncomfortable.”
This is despite the fact that Carmona almost pursued a career in music before realizing he couldn’t read it. Luckily, he made the right choice in attending Montclair State for filmmaking. Carmona commented on how much the film program and film community has helped him with his art.
“I toured [a couple of schools], and this was the only place I liked because it seemed like the film program was actually good,” Carmona said. “There are so many other schools where it’s like, ‘We have a dusty shed with, you know, a camera that you wind up and every time it rolls, dust spews out of it and you start coughing.’ That’s just not really a film program.”
With the help of the strong film community here, Carmona met some great friends that share his passion for filmmaking and creating art. One of those friends includes his creative partner, sophomore filmmaking major Sean Thrunk.
“[Carmona] is someone who has quickly become a brother to me,” Thrunk said. “His passion, enthusiasm and artistic vision is something I truly admire about him. I’m currently working on a long-term documentary project that’s going to take me across [the] country, and when I realized I needed a partner for the project, there was no one else it could’ve been [other] than [Carmona].”
The lead actor of “Grease Monkey,” Najarian, also had some kind words about his director.
“I was incredibly humbled and proud when [Carmona] came to me over the summer and asked me to be a part of his film,” Najarian said. “I had always considered [Carmona] a good friend of mine, and to this day I’m still constantly impressed by his passion for film and filmmaking. I am beyond grateful that [he] trusted me and my ability enough to take on such a complex character like Herbie Hoffman, and I truly believe he is a visionary artist in every sense of the phrase.”
We are truly excited to see what comes next from Carmona. Spoiler: it may or may not include magicians.