By Katie Moen New Jersey Herald
FRANKFORD — Typically, it’s fair to say that most high school projects do not involve choreographed fight scenes, a 25-foot freefall from the side of a cliff or a mid-March plunge into the icy waters of a Pennsylvania river. It would also probably be fair to say, then, that Craig Thiessen, recent graduate of Sussex County Technical School, was not a typical high school student.
In January 2016, Thiessen began production on his senior thesis project, a 45-minute long action/adventure film called “Sync.” The film, which will debut on Saturday, May 13, follows a desperate ex-Marine named Ryan on his quest to evade the organization that abducted him and implanted an artificial intelligence chip into his brain.
“It was pretty ambitious for my first attempt,” admitted Thiessen, who said that the project took about three months to complete. “I mean, yes, it was a school assignment, but I wanted to put everything I had into it.”
Thiessen, now 20, said that he wanted to “push his own limits and see what (he) could do.” Now, as he prepares to premier the film, Thiessen said that all of the long nights, brainstorming sessions, and hard work have really paid off.
“We begged, borrowed, cashed in favors, and just plain made stuff happen with very little,” said Thiessen, who relied on assistance from family members and friends to help him complete the project.
“Sync” stars Thiessen’s brother, Andrew, who also helped to come up with the idea for the plot.
“We didn’t have a lot of time to get it together, so we tried to come up with a script that sounded as professional as possible,” said Thiessen. “We definitely ran into some roadblocks, but I’m really proud of the final product.”
A native of Sussex County, Thiessen said that many of the locations in “Sync” should be pretty familiar to local audiences.
“We shot at Sunrise Mountain, Stokes State Forest, and in a bunch of local streets and backyards,” he said. “I’m lucky that I live where I do, because the scenery around here lent itself very naturally to the story we were trying to tell.”
In mid-March of last year, Thiessen said, he and his crew made the trip out to Peace Rock in Pennsylvania to film one of “Sync’s” biggest action scenes: a 25-foot freefall from a graffiti-covered cliff face, straight down into the rolling waters of the river below.
“It was about 35 degrees out, and it was so windy,” Thiessen said. “My brother had to run and jump off of this huge cliff, and I honestly can’t imagine how cold that water must have been. I never would have been able to make this work without Andrew. He had the same ‘let’s go for it’ attitude that I did, and even though it was a pretty miserable day of shooting for everyone, we were all so happy with the way that scene turned out.”
Executive producer and Thiessen’s uncle Steve Okrepky said that when Thiessen first approached him with the idea for the project, he had to take a deep breath.
“I have been in the film and TV industry for a long time,” Okrepky said, “so I know what it takes to put something of this scope together. Craig and the other students that he worked with were so dedicated to what they were doing that I wanted to do whatever I could to help them. I knew that they would be willing to put in the time, but I honestly didn’t know that they would take this thing to the level that they did. It’s not the typical film that a high school kid would do. I think this is an incredible project for someone at his level, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.”
“Sync” was entered into the New York Film and TV festival in 2016.
“It didn’t end up being accepted,” said Okrepky, “but that was only because they were looking for comedies and documentaries. It wasn’t the right fit, but I know there are plans to enter the film into some more festivals and competitions in the future. For now, we just want to give it a successful premier, and see where it goes from there.”
Today, Thiessen is taking courses through the Recording, Radio, Film and Culinary program in New York, where he is eager to get to work on his next project.
“I’ve always wanted to be a filmmaker,” he said, “but honestly, if it hadn’t been for the fact that Sussex Tech gave me the chance to work on something like this, I don’t think I would have seriously considered it as a career. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
“Sync” will have its premier screening at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, at the Community Center at Cedar Crest Village in Pompton Plains. Tickets are free, but reservations are recommended. Tickets can reserved by visiting https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sync-movie-premiere-tickets-33632826690. To see the full trailer for “Sync,” visit www.syncthemovie.com. The premier event will also feature a question and answer session with the cast and crew.
Original 5/11/17 NJ Herald Article – http://www.njherald.com/20170511/local-student-to-premier-debut-film-project#
PDF of NJ Herald Article – http://www.syncthemovie.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/5-11-17_NJHerald.pdf← BackNext →