Coming to a YouTube near you: ‘The Classroom’

Dominic Civitella holding film reel and movie camera

Feb. 3, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - If every picture tells a story, then every motion picture tells a series of stories - composed, lit, framed and - in the case of "The Classroom" - directed by Slippery Rock University student Dominic Civitella.

Civitella, president of the Film Society at SRU, has begun filming a web series on campus called "The Classroom." Using SRU students as actors, he and other Film Society members will offer a humorous take on the college classroom. The film is fashioned after television's workplace parody "The Office." The film will be published on YouTube.

"As people, we all love stories," Civitella said. "You will be hard pressed find people who do not like reading a book, watching TV or a movie, anything that will take them away to another world."

The Film Society, a student club that complements SRU's film and media studies minor, was formed four years ago and currently has 15 members. It seeks other students that would be interested in Friday night thrillers on Netflix.

"Anybody who's interested in film, stop on by. Don't worry, we're a bunch of weirdoes," Civitella said with a laugh. "We love film but my one priority for the web series 'The Classroom' is to have fun. Let's have fun with this business as we're trying to accomplish a goal."

Civitella, an English creative writing and interdisciplinary programs major from Easton, said he and his crew taped the first segment of "The Classroom" Monday in the Advanced Technology and Science Hall. The show, 15 minutes in length, is the first in a series of 10. The group has three scripts completed and is working on developing the rest.

He said the first release features a "quirky teacher" who gets put in the weird situation of teaching students in a class that no wants to take.

Equipment used for the shoot included two cameras and a boom microphone.

Citivella, who cites "Reservoir Dogs," as his favorite movie, said he has learned a lot about filmmaking and film critique at SRU through his friendship with William Covey, professor of English and Film Society adviser, as well as taking SRU's "Video Production" and "Screenplay" classes

"There is a wealth of knowledge to be learned about film and making film," Citivella said.

Specifics include exposure, camera angle, sound and lighting. Thematically, a director must determine whether he or she strives to make an entertainment piece or a "really thought provoking, social commentary dystopian film," he said.

Civitella said he watches three or four movies a week. He recently viewed "The Hateful Eight." Director Quentin Tarantino used a wide-angle Panavision lens for the 70 mm release. The movie, like old-time movies, started with an overture and included an intermission.

"I have to say that was the greatest film experience I've ever had," Civitella said.

Covey said he advises Film Society students and answers questions but does not intervene in shoots or scripts. A big part of learning occurs by self-discovery, he said.

Hands on experiences, like those provided by the Film Society are "invaluable" because a student can hear a professor talk about a complicated shot such as a 180-degree pan, but the student will learn more by executing the shot, he said.

Civitella said he has not ruled out filmmaking as a career but stopped short of predicting an iconic creation. When asked whether he expects to direct "Star Wars XX" someday, he laughed and said at this point he's more interested in camera angle and an engaging script.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 | gordon.ovenshine@sru.edu