A group of high school and college students, a $700 budget and a director with a dream — those seemed to have been the only elements necessary in order to generate and construct a feature film this summer. This film — written, produced and directed by 16-year-old Matt Thompson — utilized the passions and skills of each cast and crew member who voluntarily took on the hard work of making a movie. “The Medallion of Man” is a story that combines the humor of a teenage boy who lucked out in finding a powerful, lust-filled medallion with the classic message of simply being one’s self in order to find true love.
The cast and crew of Medallion had the chance to see the fruits of their labor on the big screen at La Paloma Theater in Encinitas for a private showing in August. Now they have the opportunity to show it to the public in a first theatrical release coming on Monday, Nov. 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the Ultra Star movie theater in the Del Mar Highlands. As Thompson finishes up editing the last few minutes of the film he says, “My goal was to not only utilize my own talents, but the talents of so many other artists and passionate people to put out a great product and I believe we have done that and hopefully all of our efforts will be reflected on the screen.”
Every individual of the film used their talents and fields of study to build the success of the movie and allow Thompson’s vision to come into fruition. Those that went off to college after the film completion were able to gain a little insight for their selected career through their participation in the project. Those already in college are now able to expand their portfolio.
Marly Hall, a college freshman who attends San Francisco State University majoring in costume design, had the opportunity to form and direct the costume department for the movie. She stated that, “Knowledge was one of the most important things that colleges looked at; however, knowledge is nothing without application and experience.” Hall is not only the woman behind the wardrobe, but the lead actress in the film, as well.
“Working on the set of The Medallion of Man, gave everyone a chance to gain experience in all aspects of film,” Hall says.
A few of the students who took part in the movie had already obtained experience in their chosen careers and were able to contribute to this film. A junior at Gonzaga University, Nick Smoldon composed original scores for the movie using his knowledge and experience studying music composition. He says that, “Writing a score has been a big job for me and has given me excellent insight into the requirements of a first-year music composition major; I am thankful for the opportunity.”
Graphics were created by Christopher Rosa who is pursuing a career in graphic design for his future.
A star actor in the theatre department, Michael Mahady, a senior at Cathedral Catholic High School, showcased his acting skills for the first time in front of the camera. As the lead in the movie, Mahady noticed the considerable difference between acting on a set and on a stage. “I thought screen acting would be easier, but I was proved wrong,” Mahady says, “The camera picks up every single thing you do and everything has to be consistent or it messes up the entire scene.” Although his passion remains with the theatre he was extremely grateful to have experienced a different form of acting.
Junior tech gurus at Cathedral Catholic High School, Adam and Luke Whitmarsh helped produce and technically accomplish the film, working alongside Thompson daily to prepare proper camera functions and record audio. During post production, Adam slaved away hours in front of a computer at digital effects while Luke worked effortlessly as audio technician. Both boys, with the help of their father, Tony Whitmarsh (with a performance in the film), helped lead construction on several original sets.
“When I was young my dad and I would watch movies almost all day long,” says Matthew Thompson, a junior at Cathedral Catholic High School, “Watching so many movies led me to realize how much of an impact they had on my life; in the stories they displayed and in the lessons they told.”
Thompson’s passion for movie-making and motivation to complete such a project allowed his dream of producing a film to come true.
“Last year a friend of mine got me Steven Spielberg’s autograph and she showed him one of my old videos,” Thompson says. “He told me on the autograph to ‘Keep making those videos’ and so I am.” Before the brainstorming of “The Medallion of Man,” Thompson wrote several scripts for short films and always preferred to make movies for school assignments and scholarship competitions. According to his friends and those involved in the movie, Matt has been an excellent director and leader throughout this process. “Anyone who sees his movie will immediately realize how talented Matt is and how amazing of an opportunity it was to work alongside him,” Hall says.
Executive Producer of The Medallion of Man and Multimedia teacher at Cathedral Catholic High School, Ryan Andrews, shares that, “Movie making is the most collaborative form of art there is.” Andrews was also a supervisor and featured actor in the film and he adds that Thompson, “is the perfect person for that job. He is a leader and a fantastic young creative force surrounded by capable and exciting crew and talent.” Thompson shares that taking a multimedia class at his school allowed him to learn the technical aspect of making movies and Andrews has been an incredible mentor for him to complete this production. “This feature film will be the catalyst for many of these artists, launching them in to film schools and providing a source for their creative outlets in the future,” Andrews says.