Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Graduate film student sets stage in Fontana

by Rob Ireland

June 30, 2011

Fontana — Using the village as his backdrop, a graduate student at the University of Southern California has brought his cinematic vision to life.

A couple weeks ago, Joselito Seldera, who attended Reek and Fontana Elementary Schools and Big Foot High School, filmed his movie, “Unsettled,” at Chucks Lake Shore Inn, Reid Park and in the homes of village residents.

Unsettled,” which Seldera described as a “coming of age” movie, is a requirement for his graduation. However, he also plans on showing his work at Sundance and Cannes film festivals and his goal is to turn it into a full-length movie.

“Unsettled” is about a middle-aged high school art teacher, Robert, who is a failed photographer and artist, that enters a mid-life crisis.

Robert attempts to help one of his students, Charlie, get the girl he wants.

“At this moment, Robert is disconnected with his family and unhappy with his job,” Seldera said. “He tries to help the student get the girl he likes, and he is living vicariously through him. He ends up learning from the kid.”

Seldera said Robert’s character is loosely inspired by an art teacher he had at Big Foot High School.

“The kid is me,” Seldera said while laughing. “A lot of the personalities and the attitudes are relatable to stuff I went through, or to stuff I would have gone through if I stayed in the same situation.”

The same situation is a reference to Seldera’s career as special education teacher in Chicago. He decided to leave teaching to pursue a life in film.

Filming in Fontana was a choice Seldera made for pragmatic reasons, but also to capture the ambiance of the Midwest.

“A typical suburban home, you can’t find in L.A.,” Seldera said. “You don’t get clouds here like you do in L.A.”

The lighting in the Midwest is different and filming here provides an authentic feel for the film, Seldera said.

It also was less expensive to film here. All the locations were free and in L.A. it costs about $500 a day to film in a high school.

Another reason he filmed here was because he wanted his friends to see Wisconsin.

“The community has been great, they have been so supportive and everyone has had a blast, it probably was the most fun shoot they have been on,” he said. “Most of them have all graduated and they have been around. I love Wisconsin and I love Chicago.”

“Unsettled” isn’t some low-budget college film either. The film’s producer, Chris Pratola, of Chicago, said its total budget is $90,000.

“It is a larger-scale project for a short film,” Pratola said.

Seldera and Pratola have fundraised and relied on donations to produce “Unsettled.” Pratola said they were lent a camera package, which required a $600,000 insurance policy.

However, donations and fundraising can’t cover all the costs.

“Like any good independent film it is also funded through credit cards and student loans,” Pratola said.

After the film premiers at independent film festivals, Seldera hopes to raise money to create a full-length feature.

Seldera has returned to L.A. and has reviewed his footage and couldn’t be happier.

“It is going to be awesome. The photography looks gorgeous and it has even been edited,” he said.

After graduation, Seldera hopes to enter show business. Breaking into a difficult business is a major challenge, but Seldera hopes to enter it by raising money to bring his work to life.

“I want someone to pay me to make movies,” he said. “I want to make movies and I don’t want to wait until someone finds me.”

Ultimately, Seldera dreams of directing films that he writes. In the past, he has written screenplays for a various different genres.

He has written anything from horror to comedy scripts, but when he plans on filming his work, it tends to be more grounded.

“The stuff I want to film is pretty rooted in reality,” Seldera said. “The comedy is more of real sort of humor.”

Seldera was born in Brooklyn in 1974, but his family left New York City in 1981 for Fontana.

After attending Emerson College in Boston, Seldera went to Chicago to teach special education.

However, after about 10 years of teaching, Seldera moved to Los Angles and studied film as a graduate student.

For his graduate thesis project, Seldera needs to complete a film.

He said he hopes to complete film editing by January.