With an interest in filmmaking for his entire life, Tyler Pelzek, junior, was one of the young filmmakers featured in the 2015 Milwaukee Film Festival.The film, a documentary-style project titled A Work In Progress — The Painter, stars Clarence Corbett, senior.
“I approached Clarence with the idea to work on a film because we hadn’t … ever worked together. I knew he was an extraordinary artist, but I didn’t know that much about him as a person at the time,” Pelzek said.
Although they began working on a different project, that was set aside, and the project featured in this year’s Film Festival, A Work In Progress, emerged.
“In [A Work In Progress] we focus a lot on mental illness, and in writing this project about mental illness, I learned a lot about Clarence as a person and discovered a lot about his own experiences with mental illness,” Pelzek said. “[Corbett] had a story that I thought people deserved to hear, and I wanted to be able to start a conversation and bring to light the ways that students and kids are struggling with depression that people outside of high school might not necessarily understand.”
While A Work In Progress focuses on heavy issues, Pelzek’s films weren’t always that way. “[A Work In Progress] was really my first serious project,” Pelzek said. He started making films in fourth grade, filming skits with friends after school on a cheap video camera.
“We didn’t take ourselves seriously. I definitely didn’t take it seriously, but I enjoyed it a lot,” Pelzek said. “I was always a huge fan of movies and TV shows and I always knew I wanted to make movies.”
Despite that fact, Pelzek stopped making films in middle school. “[I stopped doing videos] because I was the weird kid,” Pelzek said. “I never did sports. I think my last sport was fifth grade, so I … didn’t want to be the weird kid [making films].”
The break from filmmaking didn’t last long, and Pelzek started again in high school. “As soon as I entered the high school, I was introduced into this huge artistic world of so many creative people that I had never even met and it definitely made me feel less weird, so late into my sophomore year, I got the opportunity to make a video for a graphic design project, … and I had a lot of fun with it, so that inspired me to pick it up again,” Pelzek said.
This renewed love for filmmaking led to Pelzek’s collaboration with Corbett, whose story inspired Pelzek to work in a new area of film. “I really wanted to tell a story and documentary was an interesting way to get into that because it’s an interesting combination of filming what you see and telling a story, … so I thought it was a nice way for me to transition into making more planned out stories,” Pelzek said.
After finishing A Work In Progress and having it featured in the 2015 Film Festival, Pelzek and Corbett soon started back on their original idea for a film, Solace, which is set to be released on October 28 on Pelzek’s YouTube channel.
The fictional film touches on a similar topic – that of mental illness – but does not repeat the same story. “[It is about] a poet that doesn’t necessarily understand his condition … [He is] trying to find solace in a shallow world,” and is narrated through poetry by Corbett alongside an original soundtrack by Elissa Koppel and Ben Boehm, class of 2015.
“It’s visually surreal, audibly mind-blowing,” Pelzek said. “It’s just a really cool film and … really outside of my comfort zone, but it’s going to be interesting … [It’s] a really exciting project that we’ve been working on and I have full intentions of trying to get that in as many film festivals as I can.”
(by Eli Frank)