Chelsea Ryan's no stranger to film -- the ASU Film senior has worked various roles behind the scenes of school and independent films. But when she decided she was going to film a musical for her capstone project this year, she knew she was in deep water.
In tackling all things musical and film, Ryan worked with a crew of dancers, musicians, actors, and singers. The result is "I Am Musical," a 25-minute film that will premiere this Thursday at Pollack Tempe Cinemas.
In short, the film features a main character, Liz, who's thrown into a strange situation of her own: A new high school where she wants to be a part of the annual theater production.
We caught up with Ryan to talk a little bit more about the film before its premiere.
Where did you get the idea for "I Am Musical"?
My little sister wrote the original short story version, so she came up with the idea. I just knew I wanted to do a musical. We both adapted it to a screenplay together then found someone to take the story and make musical numbers out of it. All of the music is completely original.
Hear more from Ryan about "I Am Musical" after the jump...
Is it anything like your or your sister's high school experience?
There's pieces of it that are from my experience in high school, but then there's also stuff we've taken from stories friends have told us. A lot of the names of characters come from people we know, and events that happen come from my friends or her friends.
What sets "I Am Musical" apart from other musicals?
It's a short film musical, which is really hard to do, to have a musical in 25 minutes. The musical numbers themselves already take up about 3 minutes each, so to be able to tell a story and produce good music and entertain the audience is hard. And it is ASU's first capstone musical.
Is there any added pressure because it's the first fully musical capstone project?
Yeah, I contacted the dean of the film school at the beginning of last semester and told her the idea, that I wanted to do a musical, so she could help me gather the right contacts from the music school, the theater school, and the dance school. She wrote an e-mail back to me saying that making a musical short would be impossible and that I should just stick to doing one scene of that movie [with music] instead of trying to do a whole 25 minutes.
And what did you say back?
I didn't answer the e-mail, I just made the movie.
What are some of your favorite musicals, on stage or in film?
"Wicked" is my favorite on stage. "Rent" is also a good one. For movies, I like "Grease," "Chicago," "Fiddler on the Roof"... there's so many. Any Disney movies, the old ones. I'd have to say one of my favorite musicals is "Meet me in St. Louis," because I love Judy Garland.
Did you draw inspiration from any of those?
We took a lot of ideas, like the way that the shops were made, from "Chicago" and "Grease", and we also took a little bit of influence from the movie "All That Jazz."
Who set up the score and choreography?
We met a student named Daniel Rojas, he wrote all the songs. Then the choreography was done by a sophomore dance student named Samantha Hampton. Recently, we had a couple students from the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences who did the score that would fit between the musical numbers.
This was your first musical. How was it a challenge compared to other films you've worked on?
There's just a lot more that goes into making this movie. In addition to finding locations and finding actors, there's making sure the dances get choreographed and the music is written and performed properly. The actors we cast had to be able to sing and dance and act. It adds multiple layers on top of everything you'd have to go through for any movie. The longest movie I ever made was five minutes. That was one of the biggest challenges, just figuring out how to start the whole process.
"I Am Musical" premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. at Pollack Tempe Cinemas, 1825 E Elliot Rd, after another student film, "Still" by Matt Eldenbock. Check out the trailer for "I Am Musical" below.
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