Conservatory of Performing Arts

Local film festival showcases cinema arts talent

Friday, November 12, 2010

Skills of Conservatory students, faculty and alumni featured in five festival films

The set of Mr. PleasantThe professional training of the students and alumni on the set of "Mr. Pleasant" helped Point Park faculty member John Rice direct the film.

For several years, Pittsburgh has been known as an epicenter for the film industry by being the choice location for numerous movie shoots. The city is also known for its Three Rivers Film Festival, hosted by Pittsburgh Filmmakers and an opportunity for the Point Park Conservatory of Performing Arts community to showcase its talent, work and skills in a venue that is outside the University.

The festival, running Nov. 5-20, includes the work of four faculty members, two students and 17 alumni from both the Cinema Arts and Theatre Arts departments.

John Rice, a cinema arts teaching artist, directed a short film titled “Mr. Pleasant” that incorporated the work of numerous Point Park students and alumni.

Gabriel of

The modern day silent film "Silent City" was written and directed by 2001 alumnus Dave Droxler.

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“I’ve had many of them as students, so I had a very good idea of what they were capable of,” said Rice.

“Mr. Pleasant” is the story of Red, a college student who gets stranded at a party during a snowstorm after a disastrous one-night stand with the party’s host, Robin. His only way of getting home is to accept a ride from Robin’s gay neighbor, Mary Jean.  During the ride, he confronts his own prejudices and simplistic worldview and thinks about the aimless, self-destructive life he’s been living.  As a child, he misread a map and thought ‘Mt. Pleasant’ was ‘Mr. Pleasant.’  He’ll never make that mistake again.

The students and alumni’s professional training were invaluable to Rice, particularly due to the numerous technical hurdles encountered during production.

“The kids are up to the challenge, which is great,” said Rice. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Another Point Park-related film in the festival is “Silent City,” a modern-day silent film written and directed by 2001 alumnus Dave Droxler. The film consists of four loosely connected vignettes about love, work, friends and life. Inspired by the work of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, the film applies their style to modern settings and themes.

“It’s just a universal language,” said Droxler. “There’s something about putting a film in black and white that puts it in its own separate world.”

Droxler became enamored with black and white silent films through his education at the University. Many of his professors and classes encouraged him to study these films to learn about the origins of cinema, and he eventually put on his own adaptation of a silent film for his Advanced Directing class.

“There was a lot of inspiration for ‘Silent City’ from Point Park,” said Droxler.

In addition to being an inspiration, Droxler credits Point Park for his wide range of experiences that have helped him professionally throughout his career.

“Point Park students are so diverse,” said Droxler. “They learn a little of everything. By learning a little of everything, you figure out what works for you.”

Andrew Halasz, an assistant professor, was producer for the film “Mercury in Tuna,” directed by Chatham University professor Kristen Lauth Shaeffer. Cinema alumni Dave Hall and Noel Schermaier were cinematographer and sound editor/designer/re-recording mixer, respectively, for the film.

Schermaier was also the sound editor for “What Does Trouble Mean: Nate Smith’s Revolution” (directed by Robert Morris University professor Jim Seguin) along with current cinema and digital arts student Brittany Klesic. Halasz was also the supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer for the film.

In addition to the cinema department’s involvement, the theatre department also participated in the festival. John Shepard, chair of the theatre department, and Bob Haley, an adjunct faculty member, starred in “Pennsylvania NW” by Robert Buncher.

For more information on the Three Rivers Film Festival or to view the screening schedule, visit

"What Does Trouble Mean: Nate Smith's Revolution"

Harris Theater, Saturday Nov. 13, 2 p.m.

  • Sound Editor - Noel Schermaier (alumna)
  • Sound Editor - Brittany Klesic (current student)
  • Reenactment Producer - Jon Joseph (alumnus)
  • Reenactment Art Direction - Elise LaGamba (alumna)
  • Reenactment Cinematographer - Donnie Thomas (alumnus)
  • Supervising Sound Editor and Re-recording Mixer - Andrew Halasz (faculty)


Melwood Screening Room, Saturday Nov. 13, 7 p.m. (screening before the doc, The Electricity Fairy)

  • Director/Cinematographer - Todd Kappelt (alumnus)
  • Director/Editor - Mike Marsh (alumnus)
  • Producer - Sarah Santoni - (alumna)

"Mr. Pleasant"

Regent Square Theater, Friday Nov. 19, 9:15 p.m.

  • Director - John Rice (faculty)
  • Cinematography - Bill Paladino (alumnus)
  • Sound Editor - Noel Schermaier (alumna)
  • SFX Recordist - Jason Elrod (alumnus)
  • ADR Recordist - Nick Degrazia (alumnus)
  •  Supervising Sound Editor and Re-recording Mixer - Andrew Halasz (faculty)

"Mercury In Tuna"

Melwood Screening Room, Competitive Shorts Program, Friday Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m. and Saturday Nov. 20, 3:30 p.m.

  • Sound Editor/Designer - Noel Schermaier (alumna)
  • Producer - Andrew Halasz (faculty)

"dirt clouds grass sky dirt clouds grass sky"

(part of Sync'd II Hybrid Experimental Film/Live Music Screening)
Regent Square Theater - Friday, Nov. 12, 10 p.m.

  • Filmmaker - Noel Schermaier (alumna)
  • Filmmaker - Andrew Halasz (faculty)


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