But then what?
â€œItâ€™s the freshman year of life,â€ Christopher Cero said. â€œYour entire life has been lived in the safety and cushion of the education system all these years and itâ€™s interesting to see what happens when that cushion is taken away and youâ€™re now in the real world.â€
Cero and Chris Bresky (shown left and right, respectively, in the photo), a pair of 2004 University of San Diego graduates, have not only lived the post-graduation year, but five years later, theyâ€™re turning their personal reflections into the feature-length film, â€œFreshman Year.â€
Described as a â€œcomedy and tragedy of two college graduates colliding with reality outside the classroom,â€ the filmâ€™s lead characters, Parx (Cero) and Jamison (Bresky), have big post-graduation plans, but when those plans don’t quickly translate to success, thatâ€™s when the story takes shape.
Cero, a communication studies graduate from Camarillo, Calif., is a producer/writer/actor for Brooklyn-based Komma Films and is the director of â€œFreshman Year.â€ He switched his degree pursuit from accounting his junior year when he realized that he wasn’t completely happy with the direction he was going. He turned to communication studies and political science classes and focused more of his time on community service efforts locally, in Mexico and abroad. His character, Parx, is a â€œwitty class genius that defies his parentsâ€™ hopes for law school to pursue humanitarian work abroad.â€
Bresky, a producer/writer/actor at Komma Films, earned a degree in Interdisciplinary humanities with an emphasis in art. A seasoned actor, Bresky is also a 2007 graduate of the university’s prestigious MFA in dramatic arts/The Globe Theatre program and is USDâ€™s first undergraduate student to complete that program. Inspired by a seventh-grade teacherâ€™s compliment after performing in â€œRomeo and Juliet,â€ Bresky has been hooked on acting. In this film, Jamison is a â€œcampus theater heartthrob who dreams of riding his wave of success straight to the big screen.â€
In reality, the duo met during a freshman chemistry class. They were teammates for the Toreros’ rowing team. The idea for the film, not surprisingly, came during the year following their graduation. Cero and Bresky, roommates after finishing college, openly discussed their frustration and decided to do something about it.
â€œWe were saying â€˜I know this is what Iâ€™m supposed to be doing. Iâ€™m supposed to be pursuing philanthropy work or Iâ€™m supposed to be an actor,â€™ â€¦ we were caught in the in-between. Iâ€™m supposed to be this or that, but itâ€™s not happening yet,â€ Cero said. â€œYou always hear the same question, â€˜What do you want to be when you grow up?â€™ There are many days in the education system when youâ€™re searching for that career answer and you can lose sight of â€˜Who do you want to be?â€ Thatâ€™s what we were struggling with. (The film) is an identity piece.â€
Cero and Bresky have continually worked on the screenplay since 2004. They began Komma Films in January after moving to New York. Bresky, born in Anchorage, Alaska, and a longtime Oregon resident, said the move east was a necessity. â€œWe have a desire, through Komma Films, to reveal the truth of life, the beauty of that art and to do it through acting. We found a lot more of that truth could be revealed in New York.â€
The reality, though, is that the film is being produced for less than $200,000 and will be shot over five weeks in San Diego beginning June 2. Several scenes will be shot on USDâ€™s campus. USDâ€™s graduation setup in the Jenny Craig Pavilion last week was used to film a graduation scene with students and alumni serving as extras. Additional campus film dates are June 4, 5, 8, 9, 13, 17 and 21. More extras are critically needed, Cero said, especially for daytime scenes on June 5 and June 13.
Calling on people to serve as extras is another hat Cero and Bresky donâ€™t mind wearing. It’s merely another item on a long to-do list to complete the film. Their goal is to be able to enter it in film festivals as soon as next year.
â€œChris and I always wanted to have creative control of the stuff weâ€™re doing,â€ Cero said. â€œA lot of that, in the independent realm, means having to do it yourself. Weâ€™ve done all the paperwork, done all the research, know what it means to be a production company, what type of business to be and what you have to establish so you can raise money. And now, weâ€™re finally getting to be in front of the camera. Weâ€™ve reached the point where we get to say, â€˜Action!â€™ We praise God for that opportunity. The fact weâ€™ve come this far is because of little bits of miracles that have happened along the way.â€
The duoâ€™s ability to survive and prosper in these post-college years gives them the confidence that â€œFreshman Yearâ€ can resonate with audiences.
â€œMen of faith that we are, weâ€™re called to do nothing insignificant in life. We wouldnâ€™t be satisfied with ourselves or fulfilled in our day-to-day living if we werenâ€™t pursuing something bigger than ourselves. Our desire to show the rest of the world is the greatest reward,â€ Bresky said. â€œThe reality is that the journey is what has to be celebrated, not just the finish line. Itâ€™s what this film is about, but we learn that lesson every single day.â€
â€” Ryan T. Blystone
For more information about Cero and Bresky’s company, Komma Films, click here.