Feature film highlights NIU talent

Haley Galvin

DeKALB — An unhappy marriage, a failing resort and the disappearance of two boys provide a dramatic emotional arc in the short film “The Big Burn” as well as bringing together two NIU trained actors to showcase their talents together.

Alumnus Neil Brookshire and current student Ellen Campbell star in “The Big Burn,” a short film depicting the dramatic journey of those in a small Idaho community and the inner workings of keeping everyone happy.

The film follows Helen Turner’s work in managing a resort while trying to keep her tattered marriage afloat. The resort has started to lose financial stability, taking a toll on each of the characters and their relationships. As the plot thickens, each character embarks on a self-exploritory mission to find themselves and their place in the community.

Jake Turner, played by Brookshire, Helen’s husband, is constantly seen helping run the lodge while trying to keep things like his marriage in tact.

Campbell plays Annie, a young girl staying at the resort when her brother and boyfriend go missing. The search for the two lost boys adds a burden onto each of the characters and the plot centers around this struggle.

Campbell said the film was shot in Stanley, Idaho, an area surrounded by mountains and natural beauty that can also be seen through the characters and their struggles throughout the plot. She said this helps in creating a mirroring effect between nature and the film itself.

“As the director Samantha Silva said [during filming], ‘this is a movie about a woman, written and directed by a woman,’” Brookshire said. “Women have 75 percent of dialogue in the movie and about 50 percent of the cast and crew are female. It is an important topic about gender equality and spotlight.”

Brookshire and Campbell said they used valuable lessons they were taught at NIU to enrich their characters in the movie and throughout their acting careers. Brookshire said even though the program has changed since he graduated eight years ago, the core of it is very similar.

“They work on a great deal of creative imagination and a rich inner life,” Brookshire said. “You need to be able to open up and have support in the dialogue and also an emphasis on connecting with people in the scene.”

He said he has been able to use what he was taught at NIU in each and every one of his projects and performances. He uses his ability to connect with the audience and the character in not only outside roles, but in characters and stories he has written himself.

Similarly, Campbell said she has used her training to really tap into her character. Annie has a very vulnerable and emotional arc and with her knowledge, Campbell said she is able to perform her very best using the Meisner technique she was taught at NIU. She said the Meisner technique focuses on an actor being able to “get out of their head” and act instinctively, putting themselves in the character’s shoes and living truly in their environment.

“[NIU’s program] has allowed me to connect in a very genuine way to my characters in their lives and their situations,“ Campbell said. “The program allows you to tap into the heart of it and live truthfully in the moment.”

DeKALB — An unhappy marriage, a failing resort and the disappearance of two boys provide a dramatic emotional arc in the short film “The Big Burn” as well as bringing together two NIU trained actors to showcase their talents together. Alumnus Neil Brookshire and current student Ellen Campbell star in “The Big Burn,” a short film depicting the dramatic journey of those in a small Idaho community and the inner workings of keeping everyone happy. The film follows Helen Turner’s work in managing a resort while trying to keep her tattered marriage afloat. The resort has started to lose financial stability, taking a toll on each of the characters and their relationships. As the plot thickens, each character embarks on a self-exploritory mission to find themselves and their place in the community. Jake Turner, played by Brookshire, Helen’s husband, is constantly seen helping run the lodge while trying to keep things like his marriage in tact. Campbell plays Annie, a young girl staying at the resort when her brother and boyfriend go missing. The search for the two lost boys adds a burden onto each of the characters and the plot centers around this struggle. Campbell said the film was shot in Stanley, Idaho, an area surrounded by mountains and natural beauty that can also be seen through the characters and their struggles throughout the plot. She said this helps in creating a mirroring effect between nature and the film itself. “As the director Samantha Silva said [during filming], ‘this is a movie about a woman, written and directed by a woman,’” Brookshire said. “Women have 75 percent of dialogue in the movie and about 50 percent of the cast and crew are female. It is an important topic about gender equality and spotlight.”Brookshire and Campbell said they used valuable lessons they were taught at NIU to enrich their characters in the movie and throughout their acting careers. Brookshire said even though the program has changed since he graduated eight years ago, the core of it is very similar. “They work on a great deal of creative imagination and a rich inner life,” Brookshire said. “You need to be able to open up and have support in the dialogue and also an emphasis on connecting with people in the scene.”He said he has been able to use what he was taught at NIU in each and every one of his projects and performances. He uses his ability to connect with the audience and the character in not only outside roles, but in characters and stories he has written himself.Similarly, Campbell said she has used her training to really tap into her character. Annie has a very vulnerable and emotional arc and with her knowledge, Campbell said she is able to perform her very best using the Meisner technique she was taught at NIU. She said the Meisner technique focuses on an actor being able to “get out of their head” and act instinctively, putting themselves in the character’s shoes and living truly in their environment.