Applause for a Cause produces full-length feature film ‘Undying’


Photo courtesy of Allan Rodriguez

Communication junior Nena Martins prepares to film a scene. Applause for a Cause is producing a feature film called “Undying” to raise donations for a non-profit

Jenna Wang, Reporter

After a year-long hiatus, 63 students from Applause for a Cause gathered to write, produce and direct an original full-length feature film to raise money for charity.

“Undying” is a fantasy-drama about an immortal woman who makes an unexpected friend and has to confront her buried desires for companionship. The movie will premiere in May and raise donations for After School Matters, a non-profit that provides after-school education and summer opportunities for thousands of Chicago teens.

Communication sophomore Minju Hong worked as a producer and assistant director for the first time, which came with its challenges. At one point, Hong said she had to jumpstart a car at 1 a.m. after filming in 6-degree weather for 14 hours.

“I spent 80% of my time working on ‘Undying,’” Hong said. ”But after going home, I still wanted to go back on set, so that showed I really want to work in this industry.”

Despite the cold temperatures and considerable time commitment, Co-Director and Communication sophomore Allan Rodriguez said he found the experience unforgettable.

He said directing a full-length feature film for the first time allowed him to learn how to quickly pivot around mistakes.

“If you’ve ever heard of Murphy’s Law — anything that can go wrong will go wrong — it’s definitely true with most film productions,” Rodriguez said. “At least for me, in a cynical kind of way, that’s where the fun is, where you’re problem-solving moment to moment.”

After the post-production phase, Rodriguez previewed the full rough cut before the film moved on to the colorist, composer and sound designer. Through this process, he said he learned how to identify what flowed well between scenes.

“When you’re shooting, it’s literally just these vignettes of moments. You’re like ‘Oh well, let’s hope this fits into the broader story of everything,’” Rodriguez said. “It’s really cool to see how these six to nine weeks of shooting and the whole year of planning has come to an actual freaking movie.”

Communication junior Nena Martins played one of the film’s main characters, Annie.

As a theatre student, she said she doesn’t usually get the chance to witness the crew at work. However, through this on-screen acting experience, she got to watch the crew up close.

“It was really rewarding getting to see people do their own thing,” Martins said. “All of these people are so creative in such different ways.’”

For all three students, “Undying” allowed them to build new friendships across all departments and grades.

Rodriguez attributed this to the very beginner-friendly atmosphere on set and having to learn on the go. He said a lot of underclassmen picked up leadership skills that allowed them to advance into larger roles.

“There’s freshmen who knew nothing about film, and now that they went through this, I’m working on projects with them side-by-side,” Rodriguez said. “It’s super cool to see how everyone’s grown in just a short amount of time.”

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Twitter: @jennajwang

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