Sophomore film student Yak Ferstenberg comes to life directing his next short, “Miranda and Arnold’s Tango.” The film was shot at Montclair State University’s Psychic Fair, an event held on campus, providing insight into the ever-bending fate of students and staff, which inevitably becomes a plot in the history of love designed by Ferstenberg himself.
Inspired by Ferstenberg’s own experiences, the short revolves around a student named Miranda (Elise Ramaekers) with a history of failed attempts at romance. Her friend sets her up on a blind date with student government president Arnold (Tyler Diminick), though she quickly discovers he’s dry and robotic. Her patience is tested as they both try to forge a meaningful connection, compelled by psychic omens along the way, like a business card inscribed with the words, “You know what to do.”
Ferstenberg spoke about what prompted him to create his film.
“The original [psychic fair] I went to, that was the main inspiration for it,” Ferstenberg said. “Last year [there] was such a long line, and I was like, ‘Man, people are waiting [so long] just to see mediums, just for five minutes of fun. “
Thus was born the idea of the film. But it didn’t stop there. Months of preparation and productivity went into the production of this film and will continue even further.
“I finished writing the first draft of this screenplay in December of last year,” Ferstenberg said. “This scenario is very personal. It’s a way of expressing myself. I think there is a lot of innovation in this area [film] because no one has really done this before.
He continues with the creative liberties he has taken from the early stages of pre-production until today.
“[The film] breaks all the rules of any type of movie to [a] convention you would find,” Ferstenberg said. “These are real-life fictional characters. The only way to do that was at this fair, with this line, with these tables. It’s perfect.”
Jacob Kelly, a senior film and television graduate and assistant director of the film, runs his own production company and often collaborates with and oversees student productions.
“[Though] it’s not the professional atmosphere I’m used to, it’s nice to see people who are excited to make movies,” Kelly said.
He notes that passion is needed behind any cinema in order to produce a remarkable viewing experience.
“Film is super art of all kinds of forms,” Kelly said. “It’s going to be a very individual experience. I think everyone should see this. It’s going to be very special – if not for [Ferstenberg]then to someone.
And fortunately, the passion is not absent here at Montclair State. During filming, Rocky the Red Hawk even made a surprise appearance. The cast of Arnold and Miranda had to rely on their improv skills to accommodate the interruption, but they were amused by the encounter.
“I’m so glad Rocky interrupted one of our takes,” Ferstenberg said. “It was so funny, and I hope I put that in the movie.”
Personality and flexibility are key to creating impactful media, whether on the part of the actors themselves or the director and crew. But even with setbacks, audio mixer Jake Tannenbaum, a young film student, sees an upside.
“[Montclair State] gives people the opportunity to try different things with other people who don’t have a lot of experience,” Tannenbaum said. “There is no damage; It’s certain.”
Communications and media studies junior Marcus Moore, who works on set as a boom operator, agreed.
“Anyone who wants to create something should be able to do it,” Moore said. “And that in [and] by itself, done [this film] worth seeing.
Unfortunately, unexpected obstacles arose during filming and production had to cease, but it will inevitably resume in early November and wrap around mid-December. Additionally, around winter break or early January, the short will be released for public viewing at a few local film festivals, including Montclair State’s “Silver Slate.”
Be on the lookout for Ferstenberg’s short rekindling a compassionate and shrewd warmth as the days slide into winter.
“I have a voice,” Ferstenberg said. “And I believe my voice needs to be heard.”