By Seth Daniel
When Revere High senior Carmen Amaro saw Revere Filmic Society sponsors Paul Amato and George Hannah approaching her earlier this school year in the hallway, she had no idea the journey – the very personal journey – that they were about to take her on in recruiting her for their latest full-length feature film.
The film, ‘Heaven Lost,’ will debut on May 30 and 31 at the Showcase Cinemas at 7:30 p.m. A special reception will take place at 7 p.m. prior to the show on May 30.
“It was a really different experience,” said Amaro, who plays the lead role of Heaven. “I’m usually the student that’s very sports oriented. I do sports and go home. I wanted to try something different my senior year. They told me it would be a full-time job and it was and still is a full-time job. I don’t regret anything about it though. It was so fun.”
Writer George Hannah and Director Paul Amato, who both work at the school and sponsor the Filmic Society, said the film was two years in the making. They wrote it for a former student, who was very involved in the Filmic Society, but graduated last year before the film could be undertaken. With the writing being so involved, and more and more being added as the process went along, things didn’t click for the movie to be made last year.
This year, with the longer, complete script in hand, both Hannah and Amato decided to bring in Amaro and pair her up with Filmic veteran, sophomore Julianna Arias – who plays a “reformed snob” who befriends Heaven.
Hannah said the movie is a departure from the fun-loving features they’ve produced in the past with students. This time, they’ve moved to a much heavier topic, and they hope that their audiences are ready for it.
Instead of a comedy, Hannah and Amato said the Society has moved towards a challenging topic where the main character, who is dealing with the death of her mother and moving from another city to live with her aunt, goes on a personal journey of mystery and discovery. In that process, she stumbles upon a deeply personal and 20-year-old mystery.
The film has been in production since last October, and it has been particularly interesting for Amaro – whose real life story has many parallels to the character she plays.
“My mother died also two years ago and I also live with family, and some aspect of that is similar in the movie,” she said. “The feelings she has in the movie parallel my own feelings. I had to stop on a few scenes and take some time on some of it. But I think it is better to have real-life experience when you’re acting.”
Said Amato, “We were worried about Carmen during the filming at times because it was so personal…Some scenes are really intense for obvious reasons. I don’t think we’ve done things like that before. The emotions on film you see in the move are very real.”
Hannah said that in their fourth production, they were ready to make a jump with content, and they were also ready to play more with technology and with going to different locations.
With that in mind, viewers will see more than just the hallways and classrooms of Revere High. Likewise, they will see more adults in this movie than ever before too.
“We definitely wanted to get out of the high school a little,” said Hannah. “It’s kind of necessary to have a lot of school scenes during a movie about teen-agers, but this time we’ve been to churches and libraries and even on the street…We have a lot more adults in this movie than kids. We probably won’t go back to something like that in future movies, but this particular movie needed adults for the story.”
Two notable performances come from teacher Lauren Scannell, who plays Heaven’s aunt, and also Bill Green, who is a popular security officer at the high school in real life, but plays a much different role in the movie.
The idea of having a high school produce full-length movies was a novelty at first, Amato said, but the Society has proven itself and the administration is fully behind it as a serious learning opportunity.
It is extremely unique, Hannah said, as they haven’t come across many other high schools in America that are producing feature films with kids and showing them on the big screen.
Amaro said her participation in the film was so shocking to her college recruiters, at Emmanuel College, that once she showed them a sneak peak of the movie, they upped her scholarship offer.
“It actually helped me in the college application process,” she said. “They were very skeptical about it initially, but I showed them the movie trailer and once they saw that, they gave me a bonus to my scholarship.”
But, more than being a unique opportunity, Hannah said they all hope that viewers will once again see the high quality of the students and their work when it hits the big screen at the end of the month.
“We have been blessed in all our films to deal with actors from the school that are authentic, open and available,” he said. “Carmen and Julianna are very secure and authentic human beings and I hope the audience will see that as well.”