Northwestern alumni to premiere film at Manhattan Film Festival
May 13, 2015
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The power of friendship and the courage to live life to the fullest are two themes explored in “Ty’s List,” a documentary created by Northwestern alumni premiering at this summer’s Manhattan Film Festival.
Jesse Swedlund (Communication ‘13) and Ben Prawer (Communication ‘12) created the film to inspire viewers and share the legacy of their friend Tyler Lorenzi (McCormick ‘10), who died in a boat accident in 2011 at the age of 23.
“I don’t know if he ever imagined that a documentary would be based on his life,” Swedlund said. “The film speaks to the way he lived and what kind of lifestyle that brings. He was a reflective person. And the film asks the viewer, ‘What are you doing to live life to the fullest?’”
The film was chosen from thousands of nominations to be featured at the Manhattan Film Festival. Swedlund and Roland Smith (Communication ‘11), the director of photography for the film, said they hope this will lead to entries into more film festivals and the ability for more people to see the film.
“We would love to get some sort of distribution,” Smith said. “Not for some monetary return, but to find an opportunity to show it to as many people as possible. We want to make sure his spirit lives on and the movie is a great way to do that.”
Swedlund was inspired to start the project in 2011 when, following Lorenzi’s death, he found an email that listed of Lorenzi’s favorite things to do in his hometown, San Francisco. Along with Prawer, the two decided to create a film based off of the list.
The project was filmed in August 2012. Smith said the filming process was very spontaneous. The group followed around three people who were close to Lorenzi, as they complete parts of the two-page, single-spaced list.
“We had this plan, but the whole point of this film became that there shouldn’t be a plan,” Smith said. “There was this changing point where we just kind of did things and followed the participants around.That whole week out there we all felt something powerful when we were out there filming. As the week progressed, we saw some changes in ourselves.”
Activities on the list ranged from a trip to Lorenzi’s favorite brunch spot to hiking up to Mount Tamalpais, also known as “Mount Tam.”
“It has this amazing view over the Pacific Ocean of the sun setting if you go after the right time,” Swedlund said. “And you’re above the cloud line, you’ve got the sun setting. It’s an amazing place. It was one of his favorite places and half of his ashes are scattered there.”
After filming, the documentary went through many series of edits until it was fully completed last year. There have been several small preliminary screenings of “Ty’s List,” including at NU, but the June 13 showing in New York City will be its world premiere.
“It’s been our passion project for a long time now,” Swedlund said. “It’s so exciting that it’s finally going to be out there.”
Several fundraising campaigns helped fund the movie. Swedlund said support from the NU community has been very helpful throughout the process.
“It’s a very Northwestern film,” Swedlund said. “When it came down to it, it was really funded by Northwestern alums. It was a giant help to have that network available to us.”
Weinberg sophomore Emma Gordon interned for the film for two quarters during her freshman year. She said the film is something everyone, especially college students, should see.
“I would say the movie is about making every day count and remembering, especially at Northwestern, just to have fun and do things that you enjoy because that’s what will matter at the end,” Gordon said. “It really emphasizes relationships and being happy. Especially at a college level, that’s something we need to hear.”