Matt Borrello at SOMA Film Festival in 2016. Photo credit: Michael Polenberg.
In March 2017, the second annual South Orange Maplewood Film Festival (SOMA) will kick off just down the street from Seton Hall University. College of Communication and the Arts' Film Production alum Matt Borrello, '16, will be returning with a new film submission. Just one year ago, Borrello was given the opportunity to enter his first short film in the inaugural SOMA Film Festival. The film, "Dinner Time," was accepted and received so well that the young director was inspired to submit the film to other festivals. "Dinner Time" was accepted into the 2016 Orlando Film Festival, and then to the 2016 Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival, where it won the award for Best Dramedy (Drama/Comedy) Short Film in the student category. "Dinner Time" also won Best First Time Filmmaker in the 2016 Roselle Park Loves Shorts! International Film Festival.
Borrello recalls his experience at SOMA as being extraordinary. It was his first film screening, and the theater was packed. During his screening, he heard nothing but laughter from the audience. Borrello recalled these moments that changed everything for him. "I got fantastic feedback from an executive who was there from Tribeca. She told me that "Dinner Time" was a powerful film for a first-time filmmaker. Receiving this compliment was the moment I realized that I made a great film that people enjoyed."
As a young boy, Borrello had a creative and wild imagination, creating stories and recalling memories in his head as though they were shot by a camera. It was as though movies of his own were constantly running in his head. When he saw the famous movie "Jurassic Park," he was captivated by how a film could make a person feel so many different emotions. As Borrello grew older, he received his first camera and quickly became the member of his family to record various gatherings and holidays. Soon, he began to capture everything on film. His interest and love for film grew exponentially in high school. It was then that he attempted making his first movie. With the help of a friend, Borrello completed a screenplay for a feature length film. Although this script never made it into production, it steered Borrello's desire to be a professional filmmaker.
However, Borrello wasn't always quite confident that a true career in filmmaking was in his future. In fact, he applied to Seton Hall as an Undeclared major. It was not until he met Associate Dean Thomas Rondinella from the College of Communication and the Arts (then a faculty member in the Visual and Sound Media film program), who persuaded Borrello into taking an Intro to Film Production class. This class confirmed Borrello's love of filmmaking, and his career path became clear. Soon after, Borrello switched his major to Film Production. "Professor Rondinella has become a mentor to me. He has taught me so much and gave me my first real job on set. To this day, I still ask him for advice and opinions."
As a Film Production major, he learned the art of directing, producing and editing, and more subtle but necessary skills like how to experiment with contrast, lighting and mood. Some of the most significant lessons the program has taught him are on the business side of producing a film. Topics such as working with actor unions, film budgets, and strategies to produce, are all invaluable bits of knowledge that Borrello now uses every day.
With the second annual SOMA Film Festival just around the corner, we can expect to see more from Borello. This year, the College of Communication and the Arts and SOMA will host a two hour session dedicated exclusively to Seton Hall University. Films featured in this session will be from students, alumni and faculty. A Q&A session with filmmakers is also anticipated.
"I want to leave my mark on this industry and create work that people will enjoy. Nobody lives forever, so I want to leave behind works of cinema that will live on far beyond my time."
As for Matt Borrello, a bright future in filmmaking is surely ahead.
SOMA Film Festival
Screenings at SOPAC and the Maplewood Theatre
Seton Hall University Block: Sunday, March 12, 12-2pm
For more on SOMA, visit www.SOMAFilmFestival.com