By Bernadette Hogan |
RUMSON – When a handful of students were asked to spend last Saturday inside Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, there was no grumbling.
The young actors and film fans chosen by Film Studies teacher Dana Maulshagen were given an opportunity to be in a feature film, “Immortal,” and work alongside a film industry professional, Rob Margolies.
Immortal is a 4-part anthology feature film about ordinary people who come to realize they cannot die, told in the style of the Twilight Zone. Margolies is the producer of the series, and director of this installment.
Margolies, an alumnus of RFH Class of 2001, has always been passionate about film. After high school, he graduated from Chapman University with a BFA in Film Production. During his senior year he won a scholarship to work with Oscar Award-winning director William Friedkin (“The Exorcist”) and his first film “Lifelines” was borne of this venture.
Growing up, Margolies divided his weekends between the comfort of the Red Bank movie theater alongside his grandmother, Thelma LaBove, and trips to the former Movie City Video Store of Little Silver. Pouring over video box descriptions, film credits and teases, Margolies was hooked.
In the fifth grade, Forrestdale English teacher Jeff Pedone noticed Margolies’s creative writing, and suggested he combine that talent with his love for movies.
“A lightbulb flashed,” Margolies recalls. “I thought: I can do that for a living? I can tell crazy stories for a living?”
As a film student, he recalled feeling fueled by immersion in a creative environment. Forfeiting frat parties, he spent time writing and experimenting with ideas.
“In film school, I found I had to work harder than everyone else. I hate being competitive, but I believe everyone should have their dreams come true.”
His experience working with Friedkin helped him learn fast. “It was his bluntness I respected so much. It made me work ten times harder. I didn’t take anything personally, but his words of wisdom pushed me further. Two years later, I was making my first feature film.”
Margolies will tell you, for every dream, there’s an algorithm. Finding financing for films is no walk in the park, it’s a numbers game. That’s where his knack for producing comes into play.
“If you’re asking 100 people for funding, and keep getting turned down, then you need to reevaluate yourself and the project.”
This is a subject Margolies, a resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, covers at The Actor’s Green Room in New York City, a training space for actors, where he draws upon his background teaches courses on auditioning for independent films, finding investors for feature films and “Everything You Need to Know About Making a Movie.”
Instruction is based off personal experience: as a director what he looks for within the first ten minutes of an audition – “first impression is everything” – and how if you’re going to embark on a film venture of your own, finding investors and persistence is everything.
“To struggle and overcome, to focus on a passion – it’s both a blessing and has a curse element to it,” he said. That’s why growing up Margolies says he didn’t fit the mold.
“I was a film geek. But I knew I wouldn’t be that normal person in any respect – even in film,” he said. “I didn’t have a choice.”
Margolies has two sons, 4 ½-year-old Bastian – named after his favorite character in his favorite film “The NeverEnding Story” – and 3-year-old Ellis, a name owing to his love for New York City.
“If I can inspire my sons, if I can see that my kids live their dreams, then that’s enough for me. I want them to see me as someone who may not have won an Oscar, but someone who worked toward their dreams.”
He admits with a laugh, “And it’s all based on luck, I’m getting closer to making a movie like ‘Shawshank’ [Redemption]. I’m getting closer to fulfilling my dreams.”
Margolies predicts “Immortal” will be finished within the year, with actors Dylan Baker (CBS’s “The Good Wife,” SHOWTIME’s “Homeland”) and actress Lindsay Mushett, of whom Margolies says, “I’ve never met someone give such a natural, riveting performance” upon her first audition.
In his spare time Margolies attracts talented filmmakers via developyourmovie.com. Those interested have the opportunity to pitch the film idea, and Margolies determines whether or not he can help find financing for the project.
This article was first published in the May 10-17, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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