For a Revere High School (RHS) student, becoming the starlet of a feature-length movie could be as easy as getting a hall pass and walking to the bathroom.
That’s exactly what happened to RHS Senior Alyssa Belcastro, who was plucked from the hallways of Revere High earlier this year, and will play the starring role in a full-length feature film to be shown at the Showcase Cinemas later this month.
“We literally plucked her out of the hallway,” said George Hannah, co-director of the RHS Drama Guild.
“I was actually in the hallway on my way to the bathroom,” Belcastro said with a laugh.
“We needed a female with the right look, the right attitude and the right voice – because there is some singing in the role,” said Sara Colum, co-director of the Drama Guild. “She was literally in the hallway and we said, ‘Hey you! Can you sing?’”
It turns out she can sing.
And she can act too.
And, oh yea, she’s comfortable in front of the camera.
The movie is entitled ‘Pyg’ after the Pygmalion Effect, and features Belcastro as an unpopular girl in school who suddenly catches the eye of the most popular boy in school. The story talks about her struggles in becoming popular, including heartfelt discussions with her father, friends and some of the other popular girls.
Other students in the movie are Lucas Chaves, the male lead; and Merima Colic, the mean girl.
It might be the first time in the state that a high school has made a full-length feature movie that played on the big screen, organizers said.
The movie is a full 90 minutes and will premiere at the Showcase Cinemas in Revere at some point in late April. It is a partnership between the Drama Guild and the School’s Media Club – specifically the Club’s Sponsor Paul Amato.
In fact, it was Amato who suggested making a move, as he has instituted quite a movie-making tradition in the high school already. However, they had never made a full-length movie.
“For me, I’ve always wanted to make a movie here,” said Amato, with classic film posters adorning his walls. “I’ve seen the work that George and Sara have done on the stage and thought it would translate well to a movie. It was a perfect opportunity to work with them. The kids here are just wonderful. It’s amazing the things they can do. It’s not kids acting in the end; they are like professional actors.”
Colum said there are about 10 principles in the movie, but hundreds of kids have been involved since shooting began last fall. She said even one of the younger teachers stepped up and played the crucial role of Belcastro’s father.
“We’ve had literally hundreds of kids and staff involved in the film in some way, shape or form,” said Colum. “From people just walking through a scene or being extras in the party scene, to teachers who took on a larger role.”
Hannah said making a film has its advantages in terms of attracting students to participate in the Drama Guild.
“That’s an advantage of film,” said Hannah. “We have students who would never set foot on stage, but are willing and excited to get in front of a camera and act. That goes for the students and the faculty.”
One example of that came in the breakthrough find of Colic, who plays Brianna the mean girl. Finding the right person for the role was next to impossible. In fact, Hannah and Amato said they nearly had to cancel the film early on because no one could play the role in the right way.
Then came Colic.
“We were actually afraid to ask her to be in the movie because she was so intimidating in real life,” said Hannah with a laugh.
“That’s what made her so perfect for the role,” added Amato. “She can be mean when she needs to be and has an excellent sense of timing. We were lucky to find her.”
The writing on the film began in earnest last June, when the Guild began the project. Last fall, they began filming the movie during off hours. Since then, just about everyone in the school has either participated in the film or has seen the filming process. Hundreds of hours have been spent on the project, Hannah said.
It’s made for quite a bit of excitement around the hallways.
“There’s a lot of buzz,” said Hannah. “They’ve seen us in the hallway before and after school. We’ve been filming for so long that they are anxious to see what we’ve made. When you take all the kids that have been involved, it’s like six degrees of separation. Everyone has been in it or knows someone who has been in it. That has made it high anticipated.”
Members of the RHS Drama Guild and Media Club have combined efforts this year to make a full-length feature film called ‘Pyg’ that will premiere later this month at Showcase Cinemas in Revere. Pictured here are Sara Colum, George Hannah, student star Alyssa Belcastro, and Paul Amato at RHS this week.