‘The Lightkeeper’ sheds light on the beauty in a mentor relationship


Meg Steedle (School of Communication ‘08) plays a young female veteran who develops a familial bond with an elderly writer in “The Lightkeeper,” a short film being made by several Northwestern alums.

Catherine Kim, Assistant A&E Editor

Zach Bandler (Communication ‘07) learned to understand the brevity of life at a young age, watching his closest teacher from high school fade before his own eyes.

For Bandler, now a filmmaker, this man was his first mentor and artistic father figure. But as his mentor experienced a series of strokes and then dementia after Bandler attended college, he realized for the first time how fleeting life can be.

“It was a really hard for me as a young adult to watch someone who I love and who I respected and who is intelligent disappear,” he said.

Meg Steedle (Communication ‘08) also had an important mentor who helped her when she was having a hard time after college and who showed her what it means to be artist. Yet she said she was shocked to discover this mentor, a writer she met in New York, was struggling with mental illness.

“To find out that she was just human in the end was hard for me at the time because I needed something that was not human,” she said. “But now that I’m older, it’s more helpful to know that she is a full person instead of this idea of what I would like to be as an artist.”

Bandler and Steedle, who met in a Northwestern ballet class and have been friends ever since, planned on working together for about two years. Inspired by a common theme of mentorship in their lives, the two decided to make “The Lightkeeper,” a short film featuring a team of several NU graduates that captures the gravity and power in a brief period of time between two people.

“The Lightkeeper” tells the story of Alison, a young female veteran played by Steedle, and Don, an elderly writer played by Golden Globe-winning actor Bruce Davison, who form a familial bond over the course of a dinner. Both characters isolate themselves from the world and seek reconciliation with themselves, yet find comfort through their mentor-mentee relationship, Bandler said.

The short film is a proof of concept — meaning it could be turned into a feature-length film down the line. Steedle said she hopes the film, though short, will shed light on the audience member’s own lives by sharing a sense of relatability.

“At the end of the day it’s really about navigating some of those stories for the audience so that they can then touch on their lives and then try and figure out what’s important to them,” she said.

Assistant director Megan Greene (Bienen ‘07) said she hopes people leave with empathy for outsiders who are isolated from the world, in this case an elderly writer and a young veteran. Though they might not necessarily wear their emotions on their face, she emphasized the need to reach out to these people.

“(I have) a little bit of faith in the ability of humans to connect with each other even in the most isolating of circumstances,” she said.

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