Ever since he was 8 years old and received his first camera, Adam Cooper has been interested in creating art in the form of movies.
“When I realized that people actually do this for a living, that became my dream,” says Cooper, a West Bloomfield high school graduate.
At 20 years old, he is on his way to fine tuning his skills as a filmmaker. But like most young talent starting out in the film industry, the obstacle for him is where to find the money to fund creative projects.
Cooper turned to the Internet and his community to provide encouragement and resources to make his ideas reality. He found that a big budget is not necessary when first starting out. A student film idea can be captured with little or no funding and created for the enjoyment of YouTube followers. That’s what Cooper did when he created a comedic action film in 2012 with his twin brother, Daniel, and posted it online. It helped them build a fan base.
Cooper looked to his high school theater department for additional resources to help him expand upon his experience. The teachers supplied a wealth of information and gave him access to equipment he needed to pursue his interest in film. The Cooper brothers filmed promotional trailers for their school’s drama and musical departments, showcasing the school’s local talent.
Then the Cooper brothers participated in the Orchard Lake Student Film Festival, which welcomes talented high school students to present their latest short films. They entered and won the “Best In Show: PSA” award in 2009. In 2010 they won “Best in Animation”; in 2012 they won “Best In Show: PSA” and “Best Comedy”; and in 2013 they won “Best Drama.” In 2013, their short film “The Case of Amber Gram” was named the “Staff Pick” and “Must See” short at the National Film Festival for Talented Youth as well as the “Official Selection” at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
Now he’s attending Columbia College in Chicago, a city where many movies are filmed. But it’s important to Cooper to come back to Michigan to shoot his films because of “the tight-knit community and its work ethic,” he says.
His latest movie, now in production, is called “Model No. Human.” Cooper describes this film as dark, gritty, psychological and manipulative.
“This is a story about an artificially intelligent man who discovers the pain of being a human through learning about a girl he believes to be his daughter,” he explains. The film focuses on the theme of logic versus emotion.
“The spirit of filmmaking is to push the limits and try to achieve things that are impossible,” Cooper says about how he chooses projects. “Being a huge science fiction nerd, I wanted to give the genre a shot.”
Returning to Michigan and hiring actors, renting equipment, purchasing costumes, hiring hair and makeup services, catering and construction all benefit the local economy, Cooper says. And now he sees having a tight budget as an asset.
“In many ways, writing a contained film with (financial) limitations benefits the film because it demands more attention to developing a story over spectacle,” he says.
Cooper hopes this movie raises questions about what it means to be human. For more information about Cooper films, visit cooperbrothersfilms.com.
Chicago-based Latino Art Beat, a national nonprofit 501(c) 3 arts organization, won the hearts of a multitude of young movie makers, producers, directors and film aficionados at the opening night of the 10th Annual HollyShorts Film Festival, which took place recently at the TCL Chinese Theatre on world-famous Hollywood Boulevard.
Latino Art Beat, in partnership with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), offered a national youth film competition in collaboration with the HollyShorts Film Festival in Hollywood, Calif. The youth film competition was introduced back in January 2014 and culminated at the festival’s opening night gala on Aug. 14 when Don Rossi Nuccio, president of the Latino Art Beat, announced the winner and runner-up of this high-profile, milestone initiative.
Of the multitude of youth film entries received by the festival, 10 semi-finalists were selected to compete for the national winning trophy. All of the 10 semi-finalists’ films were screened during the festival, thus recognizing the high talent level of all these young aspiring filmmakers.
With the semi-finalists’ films selected, Nuccio elected a further panel of judges including himself, two young English filmmakers (one of whom worked on two Tim Burton films), a former Latino Art Beat winning student and current filmmaker, who collectively viewed, critiqued and selected the ultimate “Best of Show” scholarship winner. In front of an audience of over 1,000 attendants, in duplicate presentations at two of The Chinese Theaters cinemas, Nuccio announced the youth competition winning filmmakers to an enthusiastic crowd: Adam and Daniel Cooper, twin brothers who jointly directed the film titled “The Fourth Wall.”
“What if we created a character that discovers he is part of a story and tries to escape by breaking the fourth wall? What if along the way, he believes he has the power to take over the story he is in and change the outcome?” thought the Cooper brothers before making the film. They were intrigued by this idea and started writing. The Cooper brothers believe that movies mean more to them than anything, so they made a movie about a movie. “It was a thrill to experiment with the narrative form and explore the psychology of a movie from the perspective of its characters,” they said.
The Cooper brothers were presented with a crystal trophy celebrating their winning place, along with individual award certificates from Latino Art Beat. They were offered a $40,000 college scholarship ($20,000 each) to attend the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
Latino Art Beat is currently producing a trilogy of scary/mystery film shorts geared toward a younger teen audience. The first film in the series, “Visiting the Museum,” was released last year in collaboration with the Oriental Institute Museum of the University of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago. It had wide media coverage and was screened at film festivals and various other venues across the U.S. and abroad. The second film, “The Dance,” has just finished production and is now in post-production with a target release by the end of 2014. The third film in the series, titled “The Scarecrow,” will go into production the first quarter of 2015. These enchanting films are based on a collection of short stories written by Latino Art Beat alumnus Manny Reyes III from his soon to be published book “Manny’s Short Scary Stories.” The current films are directed by Columbia College Chicago graduate Nikola Stojkovic. Latino Art Beat is producing this series of short films to make young filmmakers aware of the multitude of job opportunities available in the film industry.
The runner-up of the Youth Film Competition category of the festival was Michael Aloyan for his film “The Girl and the Sea,” who will receive a dedicated college-level course to the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.