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UAlbany Students, Alumni Part of Independent Film Confinement

October 30, 2009

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From left, actress Colleen Lovett and recent graduate Dan Foerste.

UAlbany students and alumni gained experience as crew members on the film. From left, actress Colleen Lovett and recent UAlbany graduate Dan Foerste.

For recent UAlbany graduate Daniel Foerste, an aspiring filmmaker, the chance to work on an independent movie this summer presented the opportunity of a lifetime. The film, Confinement, was written, directed, and edited by John McCarty as a modern re-telling of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

For four weeks, Foerest slept on a friend's sofa and traveled each weekend from his hometown of Chester, N.Y., to film at two rural Victorian settings in Nassau and East Nassau, N.Y.

"I had been taking all the video art and film history courses that I could, so I just jumped when Professor [Audrey] Kupferberg and Mr. McCarty gave the opportunity to work on Confinement," said Foerste, who gained valuable experience as the production's "key grip" – recording sound, constructing sets, and assisting with lighting.

Kupferberg is the film's producer and assistant director. The students had taken upper-level film classes with Kupferberg, a full-time lecturer in film studies in the Art department.

"It was a great experience every day to be in a room that was sweltering hot with lights and filled with people who are all focused on achieving the same goal of capturing the vision of the director on film," said Foerste, who plans to enroll in graduate school to study film and animation.

From left, Class of 2009 graduates Fred Bonheim and Eran Carmelli at work on the film.

From left, recent UAlbany graduates Fred Bonheim and Eran Carmelli at work on the film.

Eran Carmelli, '09, of Edgewater, N.J., a history major, acted as a boom operator and helped to set up lights. "I felt this would be a great way to get my feet wet (in the film business)," said Carmelli.

The Yellow Wallpaper is an acclaimed short story that was published in the January 1892 issue of New England Magazine. Today it is viewed as a significant example of late 19th century feminist fiction. The story is about a woman whose physician husband treats her for depression and "hysteria" by shutting her in the upstairs bedroom of a rental house.  She is not to do any work, either physical or intellectual. While lying in bed, she becomes fixated on the pattern in the room's yellow wallpaper.

This confinement leads to her eventual psychological deterioration. Gilman wrote the story after suffering from what today would be called post-partum depression, and shared her story with the specialist who treated her. He later altered his treatment.

In the article Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper, Gilman wrote in 1913: "It [the short story] was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked."

McCarty was drawn to the story as a “first-class tale of creeping psychological terror: Ibsen's A Doll's House as if written by Edgar Allan Poe.”

The students volunteered for the love of film and received catered free lunches and on-screen credit.

"I wanted the students to have the opportunity to work on a film shoot so that they could witness how a motion picture is pieced together from many individual moments," said Kupferberg.

 

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Istvan Kecskes
UAlbany Faculty

For UAlbany linguist and teacher Istvan Kecskes, the world is his classroom.

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