Purple Crayon Players to premiere film “Stepping Stones”

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Courtesy of Owen Kiley

Purple Crayon Players is preparing to premiere their film “Stepping Stones” this Friday.

Diego Ramos-Bechara, Reporter

Quiet on the set! It’s lights, camera, action for the Purple Crayon Players, a board within the Northwestern Student Theatre Coalition, as they get ready to premiere their latest film, “Stepping Stones,” this Saturday.

The film follows a group of children that find a magic rock that transforms them into grown-ups. Director and Communication junior Samara Malik described the film as a “story about what it means to grow up, the series of actions and choices that force you to conform with society’s expectations of you.”

The film centers themes of individuality, authenticity and nonconformity. These themes speak to the board’s mission, as they strive to create plays that encourage young audiences to engage with theatre and performance, often with shows children can appreciate and be inspired by.

Malik said she wanted the story’s characters to reflect contemporary demographics, as the goal of the film was to empower kids by seeing a version of themselves on-screen that matched who they are in real life.

“I wanted to include (characters) that were questioning their sexuality, their heritage, that were non-binary, and I wanted them to explore what it meant to defy what society had expected them to grow up and be,” she said.

Like many productions, the pandemic impacted the film’s pre-and post-production processes. The film was to be staged in the McCormick Auditorium and was set in medieval times, featuring dragons and wizards.

“We had to find an alternative method to convey the story, given that we were changing the medium,” she said. “That’s how we settled on the contemporary setting.”

While she would have liked to film in person, Malik said the virtual setting propelled and supported her directing.

Communication freshmen Adelina Marinello and Veronica Szafoni filmed all their scenes from home.

“We were sent these boxes containing tripods, greenscreens and microphones; we would film our scenes individually and then meet with Samara to talk about what could be improved,” Marinello said.

Both actresses commended the film for tackling what it’s actually like to grow up in today’s world. Szafoni said she found her character relatable because she has faced expectations to act a particular way and have certain conversations, she said.

Marinello’s character, Ella, struggles with coming to terms with her sexuality and what it means to her.

“It’s all about the pressure to conform with the norms, struggling between finding what she wants for herself and what she’s expected to become,” she said.

While it was challenging to create an entire film remotely, Marinello, Szafoni and Malik said the experience was enriching and they learned a lot.

“I think that the uniqueness involved with shooting the film speaks to the film’s themes of individuality and creativity,” Malik said.

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Twitter: @D_Ramos42 

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