Voices

Filmmaking teens shooting for audience’s self-revelation

Chris Hulsizer, 17, David Kershinar, 18, and Michael Graves, 18, are an indie filmmaking trio: three buddies motivated to share their thoughts, emotions and dark humor with others. The creative teenagers call themselves Common Folk Films, but they are far from common. “I love film noir, so a lot of my storytelling tends to be a bit dark, but my main goal is to get across real human emotion, real human nature, which is often very dark,” Kershinar said.

In their films, there is a bit of swearing and violence, emotions good and bad, and humor at the expense of others. Still, as they watch films by the Coen brothers, Judd Apatow and Wes Anderson or films like “Never Let Me Go,” “Punch-Drunk Love” and “Pulp Fiction,” they recognize that there is a market for film noir and the obscure.

“I love the idea of making people uncomfortable or shocked, because that evokes emotion that comedy alone cannot. Violence is horrible in real life, but in film it’s beautiful. You can experience anguish without actually having to ‘feel’ anything,” Hulsizer said. “I still love comedy, I really do, but my heart, I think, will always be into something a little more messed up.”

The filmmakers began years ago with a goal of entertaining others and basking in the limelight. They all admit that their earlier endeavors weren’t the greatest, but at least they were something to fuel the creative fire. They met at Mead High School, and recognizing their like-mindedness they began working together. Combined, the filmmakers have at least 20 scripts waiting to be produced and some shorts posted on YouTube, including the introduction to a Web series called “Allen” that is chock-full of social angst.

A recently completed short film, just under 13 minutes, is a collaboration between Kershinar and Hulsizer who wrote the original short story. Called “The Forest,” the sci-fi film’s message might be “don’t let life pass you by.” The trio is working on a longer film called “Party People” that includes a handgun, a shattered leg, punches and heartfelt confessions.

Through the summer, they will continue to film, write and act together. Kershinar and Graves are also musicians. Kershinar hopes to have a CD out in late July with 10 songs that complete one story. “It’s a folk tale put to folk music,” he explained.

In the fall, Hulsizer will be a senior at Mead and Kershinar and Graves will be freshmen at Shoreline Community College near Seattle, where they will study video editing and audio engineering. Hulsizer plans to join them the following fall when he hopes to enroll in the Seattle Art Institute.



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