James Calnan III is a senior at Keene State College double majoring in film production and critical studies.
The Manchester, New Hampshire, native said that he has an interest in creating “films that put as much drama into the plot structure as possible and are exciting to follow.”
Calnan said that his passion for filmmaking began during his early years in high school. Calnan said that the Clint Eastwood film, “‘Gran Torino’ changed my life since it is the type of film that struck me emotionally, with evolving characters that I had never seen before.”
Calnan’s first film project was “Curiosity,” which he made in 2013 during his first year at Keene State. He said that he still “regards ‘Curiosity’ as a favorite film,” since it was a film that was particularly meaningful since the plot “goes deep into someone’s mind about what they could possibly be thinking.”
Calnan said that he views filmmaking as an opportunity to depict a “character study, to identify or follow a character and to discover more about a certain person while having fun doing it.” He also remarked that he writes stories that “have a lot of layers and subplots to them.”
Regarding the visual effects of his films, Calnan said that he tries to create “something that is visually pleasing to watch and well-thought-out that fits the tone of the film.”
Calnan said that he has been influenced by several prominent directors, such as Clint Eastwood, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino and M. Night Shyamalan. He also noted that he has been influenced by Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 film, “The Rope.”
Calnan has worked with both KSC Professors Teresa Podlesney and Tom Cook. Podlesney said that Calnan is “extremely careful in exploring every facet of an idea and is willing to take feedback.” Podlesney further emphasized Calnan’s ability to “share his ideas and to do the best [he] can with every task assigned [to] him, including tasks he assigns himself.”
Cook said that Calnan’s “greatest strength as a filmmaker and student is [his] dedication and persistence. He has learned to look at the entire picture instead of just working on his project on a day-to-day effort.” Cook also said that Calnan has “learned to work together in a crew-oriented field, which is a vital element of professional production.”
Calnan said that he is currently working on three film projects. For his group film project, Calnan said that he is making a comedy called “Stain,” directed by Matthew Cohen. Calnan is also working on writing a text for a Keene State student’s astrophotography project.
Calnan’s self-described “biggest project” is his direction of the film “Strangers.”
He said that the drama mystery film’s plot “revolves around a college student who has a very harsh relationship with his father, and then meets a new friend who brings more out of him than he knew he had.”
Calnan said that the “scale of the film will be much bigger than arguably any other student film made here [at Keene State].”
Calnan said that his vision for the film is to portray a “very interesting character study with a father and son relationship.” “Strangers” will begin filming in February and will be released at the end of the academic year.
After his graduation from Keene State, Calnan said that he hopes to move to New York City.
He also said that he is interested in working for the HBO Fellowship since he “loves their work.” To new college students, Calnan said to “always be original and do it for the experience. Don’t overlook hard work; talent is 95 percent of hard work; just learn the language and study deeper.”
Ethan Chalmers can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org