Students film feature length original film on campus

Best friends since middle school, Scott Jarreau and Chase Cangelosi took advantage
of Southeastern’s campus to film a mockumentary.
The Lion's Roar / Megan Ferrando

While the cafeteria is used for eating, the library for studying and other parts of campus for various activities, all locations are also perfect backgrounds for a feature length film made by two college students. Sophomore education major Scott Jarreau and sophomore marketing major Chase Cangelosi used the campus of Southeastern for their first movie, “Abracadabra,” which is a mockumentary recording the events of Jarreau and Cangelosi as they experience life as a college student, and encounter a mystery regarding President John L. Crain.

“The whole premise of the movie is pretty much that we heard about this mysterious president we have to find and meet,” said Jarreau.

The film plays on fact and fiction as Jarreau and Cangelosi record themselves encountering another student on campus who tells them about the mysterious university president who walks around campus every night.

“As we started writing out the scenes he [Crain] just became more and more involved,” said Cangelosi. “We mention multiple times, even in the disclosure at the end of the film, that nothing’s been approved and we spell his name differently in the film. If he had seen the film, I don’t think he’d be disappointed with it.”

About 13 actors took part in the film besides Jarreau and Cangelosi, all of whom are Southeastern students. Jarreau and Cangelosi interviewed about 64 students outside Starbucks for one portion of the film, although only about 10 of the shots were used.

“This is an hour and a half long movie and there are millions of shots of us interacting around the school, and not a single person was like, ‘yeah dude!’ in the background,” said Jarreau. “The part where we interview people was during exam week, and people were actually participating.”

The filming took place in a six-week period during Fall 2015 and was shot in many locations around campus including the library, cafeteria, classrooms and the parking garage. It was also primarily done on an iPhone. 

Jarreau began working with a camera back in the fifth grade, and has made short videos no more than 14 minutes long in the past. Cangelosi, however, has dabbled little in film or acting before “Abracadabra.”

“I was the director for most portions of the film. Gradually we got really good at doing it,” said Jarreau. “He [Cangelosi] has never done anything in the acting thing before. As a kid, I would do plays and stuff, but he really let it work, by the end, he was doing a fantastic.”

“Abracadabra” originated as Jarreau and Cangelosi began coming up with ideas for short YouTube videos one day, soon realizing their ideas could become a movie.

“Abracadabra means to speak into existence,” said Cangelosi. “We kind of just started talking about this movie so much that it just spoke itself into existence.”

The movie came together over the period of about six months, including writings, filming and editing.

“My real idea going into the film was to test my cinematography skills and to see if I could do it,” said Jarreau. “I really do glorify this campus. The things I did with the camera really made this campus shine, especially in the first sequence of the film when it shows the intro tune and shows the scenery of the campus and driving down University Avenue.”

Filming on campus has allowed both Jarreau and Cangelosi to view Southeastern differently. So much time was spent viewing shots of campus and fitting music to the film, that the two grew in skill and appreciation of what is around them.

“I learned a lot about computer everything,” said Jarreau. “That was the hardest part. I had so much frustration with just trying to get this thing to work out. There’s a trailer where I lined up the beat of every certain thing with the changing of clips. For me, I felt like I’ve grown a lot in how I view a certain rooms or certain parts of this campus. I’m really weird about symmetry now. Before I was okay with weird kind of obscure angles. I like to look more than I use to.”

Aside from noticing the symmetry of campus, Cangelosi joked how he now sees things as they would be in the movie.

“Sometimes I’ll be walking around campus now and hear theme music in the back,” said Cangelosi.

The climax of making the film, however, was when “the boys” finally met Dr. Crain, who they were talking about so much through the course of the film.

“We decided at the end of this movie that we have to meet him,” said Cangelosi. “I wasn’t that nervous to meet Donald Trump.”

Jarreau and Cangelosi eventually decided to go to Crain’s office to ask if they could take a selfie with him.

They entered Dyson Hall and asked the secretary if they could meet Dr. Crain.

“We were like, ‘We want to take a selfie with him,” said Cangelosi. “Finally the third lady was like, ‘Just leave your numbers here and we’ll see if he’s free.’ So they called us back 2 hours later.”

According to Jarreau and Cangelosi, meeting John L. Crain was extremely nerve-wracking, but a great memory.

“He is so nice,” said Jarreau. “Not one part about him was like you’re wasting my time.”  “It’s hard to do that with professors and the president of the school was so…I was blown away. And that’s part of Southeastern that I love. I love this school for that reason. Is that I can meet with the president and take a photo with him. What other school can you do that at?”

Soon after completing the film, Jarreau and Cangelosi hosted a movie premier at Jarreau’s grandmother’s retirement village, complete with a red carpet and popcorn.

Since, they have used their passion for filming to create an advertisement for a condo and even a project for an English class.

“Abracadabra” can be viewed on YouTube through searching “Abracadabra The Movie.” More about the film can also be found through Instagram and Facebook.