Frontiers

Guys on Film (VIDEO)

Three 2014 College grads are finishing their movie with money they raised on Kickstarter.
July 2014

Most college students wonder how they’ll handle the future: whether to follow an established path, or to live a life that is free-form but risky. Jason (Jay) Jadick, C’14; Dylan Hansen-Fliedner, C’14, ENG’14; and Dane Mainella, C’14, ENG’14, explored the quandary by making a movie. Now, just two months after graduation, they’ve raised enough on Kickstarter to finish their feature.

Driving Not Knowing focuses on two young artists, played by Jadick and Mainella, who need each other but disagree on how to live their lives. Working with another friend, Benjamin R. Davis (Temple '14), and a cast and crew of other Penn students, they based the movie on their own experiences—although Mainella says the characters are “a little more interesting in that they’re a little more extreme.”

They shot the film on their own, but received advice and help from many members of the Penn faculty in the cinema studies program and the English department, as well as the Institute of Contemporary Art. Most involved was Al Filreis, Kelly Family Professor of English and director of Kelly Writers House, who became a producer of the movie. 

While Jadick, Hansen-Fliedner and Mainella acknowledge they lack some of the production know-how that a film school would have offered, they say they wouldn’t have it any other way. “I developed the skills to write, direct, and produce this film at a university that is not a film school—it is a school that prepares you for anything you can imagine,” says Jadick. “I’ve expanded my interests here, and I learned how to think critically about things, not just from one access point. Through this project we’ve learned there’s always a different way.”

From the filmmaking itself, they learned about defining roles—and not just the ones on screen. Mainella says, “You learn your weaknesses and strengths, and you have to be like a businessman as well. You can’t just be in your own head and be this artist.”

Their Kickstarter success means they’ll be able to finish editing, get the sound mixed and mastered and the color corrected, and start sending the film to top film festivals. “It's deeply moving that revealing the project to a wider audience proved that Driving Not Knowing's characters and story are able to touch others,” says Hansen-Fliedner. “I feel simultaneously thrilled and humbled, which is a great place to be.”

It’s also a great place to keep thinking about the future. The three shot footage for another feature as they drove across the country during spring break, and they have some individual projects in mind as well. “I love Driving Not Knowing,” says Mainella, “but I’m excited to move beyond.”

View the Driving Not Knowing trailer here.