For Penn students about to start their new lives in the Big Apple, a film series about their peers is about to come.
2011 College graduate and founder of Prillen Steven Allen has released the trailer of "Childlike," a film series on 20-somethings finding their place in New York City.
As of now, Childlike is a five-part film series touching upon topics people in their 20s would face, such as relationships, race relations and sexuality. The film tracks the main characters — Alex Evans, Kimberly Peterson, David Michaels and Ashley Thompson — and the relationships and friends they found while attending New York University and Penn.
“I wanted to put together a film series in the city. It would be my first production in New York City,” Allen said.
Allen has been interested in acting since he was about five years old. In college, he started Prillen and put together a two-season film series called "Spruce Street." He said the University sponsored his work and put in on its television network once it was produced.
In order to start the production team, Allen said he auditioned hundreds of candidates and landed with “the best and the brightest of New York City.”
“Everyone has brought a lot to the table,” he added.
Pete Bradt, 2009 College graduate and one of the writers of "Childlike," said the series has potential due to the honesty of the story, the huge relationship between the people making the film and the subject matter itself.
“The names have been changed, the location has been edited, the events might have been made up, but the underlying shame or embarrassment or face-to-face realization of reality — that all comes from a place that is very real,” Bradt said.
Sarah Spruell, another writer of the film series, has known Allen for 20 years and particularly brought her experience of knowing someone for a long time into the relationship of two characters, Alex and Kimberly. She said that the fact that she lives in the city is reflected in the story she writes.
“Definitely I draw from my daily experiences, since I think I’m pretty new living [in New York City],” Spruell said.
William Serri, acting as Alex Evans in the series, said the intriguing story brought him to join the "Childlike" production. “I’m 23 years old, same age as my character, and I’m also figuring out my life in New York City,” he said.
For both Serri and Aaron Marshall-Bobb, who plays David Michaels, acting in front of the camera is something new. Both were trained for stage performances and found "Childlike" a “learning experience” for film acting.
“This is actually my first film project. I’m almost shockingly terrified about it,” Marshall-Bobb said. He added that despite the new environment, the unique personality of his character made his acting experience much more fun.
“The entire getting coached and all of the feedback from the entire team to shape and mold this character, it was fun, and I felt safe,” Marshall-Bobb said.
While the story itself spoke to him personally, Serri picked the interracial relationship between his character and Kimberly as an element that differentiates "Childlike" from many other media contents.
Nicole Rainteau, who plays Ashley Thompson in the series, agreed with "Childlike’s" potential in tackling the unaddressed issues in media.
“I think the series explores a lot of controversial topics. It’ll potentially bring some conversations, and great things will happen from the conversations,” she said.
Working for the common goal of putting the story on screen, everyone agreed that the production team is made up of passionate and talented people, headed with Allen’s leadership.
“[Allen] definitely went for a handful of characteristics, and we all fall into the mindset in a good way,” Bradt said.
Justin Montgomery, the cinematographer, said Allen’s artistic knowledge helps a lot in putting his vision on the screen.
“[Allen] understands painting and also understands light,” he said. “Cinematography is all about painting, basically.”
Serri and Spruell also said Allen has a clear vision of what he wants in his production.
“I’ve had directors who shoot the same scenes with different lenses because he or she does not know what he or she wants. But with Steven, he has one thing. He wants us to look a certain way,” Serri said.
“When we come to the set, everybody is on point,” Spruell said.
"Childlike" is starting its Kickstarter in June and will start shooting the first five episodes once it reaches its fundraising goal.
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