Our LIKE US Movie (2019) Wins At GDIFF
‘LIKE US’ Wins Multiple Awards & Nominations At The
2019 Golden Door International Film Festival
We are proud to have helped provide an unprecedented extracurricular movie-making opportunity for students during the 2018-19 school year. The film raises awareness of the nuanced and widespread nature of bullying, and serves as a prevention tool to be shared with other schools. It also raises awareness for issues of childhood homelessness, gender identity, ovarian cancer, and parental death. LIKE US is made in memory of Tony Award Winner and Theater Hall of Fame Inductee Marin Mazzie, who passed away from ovarian cancer last September.
LIKE US is a unique project directed by Kris Van Nest, most known for his work in television and corporate videography, as well as teaching of filmmaking and on-camera video classes in Jersey City. Van Nest led students in 6th - 8th grade through a ten-week screenwriting process starting in September 2018. The ten student screenwriters were challenged to tell a story with an ethical dilemma at its center and that included a large cast of students actors. New York casting agent Meghan Rafferty was tasked with helping to build a diverse cast, allowing all interested students in grades 2-8 to join the project while teaching them how to prepare for an on-camera audition. Over the winter, Van Nest taught the participating students to everything they needed to know about rehearsing and film production. Both on and off screen, students learned technical skills, such as how to hold a camera and operate sound and lighting equipment. Equally important, they were taught not to judge themselves or each other during the creative production process.
LIKE US is Kris Van Nest’s directorial film debut.
LIKE US stars nearly 60 student actors, all making their on-camera debut, and introduces Jonah Briggs, Holloway Cunningham, Leo Frohwirth, Billie Jo Rivero and Sofia Santomauro in leading roles.
LIKE US supporting performances include Michele Sorvino (Inside Hollywood on the Hudson and Director of Golden Door International Film Festival), Meredith Burns (Executive Director of Art House Productions), Award winning Radhika Konda (creator of web series Ammacuhi on TeluguOne), Chase Steele Greye (Brooklyn-based musician, photographer, and life coach), and Sam Pesin (President of The Friends of Liberty State Park).
LIKE US music by film and television composer and volunteer parent Stephen Ulrich. Song in opening scene: “It’s Hard To Hurt Someone” by Val Emmich. Song in final scene and movie trailer: “Take It All To Heart” by Val Emmich. Song in stairwell scene: “Wandering” (Lana’s Song) by Chrissy Roberts. Song in competition scene: “Waterfall” by Chrissy Roberts.
LIKE US production spanned over 12 months and was filmed at 6 locations across multiple neighborhoods in Jersey City, NJ.
LIKE US Film Synopsis
The Shooting Star Youth Challenge is coming to town, and Cory, Fatin, Lana, Astrid, and Trevor have each been unable to find a team. When their Principal asks the group of outcasts—each facing bullying and rejection for their nonbinary gender identity, recent loss from cancer, unconventional interests, or other reasons—to work together for the competition, some of the students are not too happy. To make matters worse, as the big day approaches, the team members are shaken by comments made online and in person about them, and they fear they will never be accepted for who they are. Yet together they rebuild their confidence and get ready to compete. However, in a moment of desperation, Lana confides in her teammates about a problem that is a much larger challenge than shooting a basket or nailing a comedy routine. When the C Flats step up to help their new friend, we see that what makes these kids winners are not the skills they bring to Shooting Star but the size of their hearts.
About Director Kris Van Nest
A professional educator and nationally televised producer and host, Kris Van Nest is Founder, Host, and Executive Producer of the online media network THISLEARNING® (www.thislearning.com), a Jersey City-based creator of on-line media, video / film classes and services to showcase what makes learning awesome. Van Nest previously executive produced, produced, and hosted the weekly adventure-sports television series FREESPORT-TV, and then developed, pitched, hosted, and executive produced the national weekly television series Trekken sponsored by Jeep® and broadcast nationally on the DiSH Network. Van Nest holds a B.A. in Cognitive Science & Artificial Intelligence and an M.S. in Educational Technology from Lehigh University, with credits towards an Ed.D. in Educational Psychology: Human Cognition and Learning/Intelligent Technologies at Columbia University’s Teachers College, the Production Certificate Program at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (NYU/SPCS), and a Summer Course Certificate in Artificial Neural Networks from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Learn About #FilmProduction: