Gordon Streaming | Part 1: Film
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these films do not necessarily reflect those of Gordon College. We defer to readers to determine what content they feel comfortable watching.
Up there with embarrassing moments and irrational phobias is another topic of conversation that’s sure to add some excitement to lunch-time chats with coworkers or nights out with friends: celebrity sightings. If we encounter someone famous in real life, we often feel the need to tell others about it.
This Gordon Streaming series is about the reverse situation. It’s about recognizing familiar faces and names in the movies and T.V. shows you’re watching and the songs and podcasts you’re listening to. Over the years, a lot of Gordon alumni and professors have made names for themselves in the entertainment industry. The Bell tracked down over 20 of them and made this streaming guide for you to enjoy over spring break.
The first article in this three-part series is about Gordon alumni who’ve played a part in the production of movies and documentaries—from teaching an actress to row for an important role to starring in a foreign language film based on their real life.
Genres: Mystery and thriller
When actress Amy Forsyth was filming CODA in Gloucester, MA, the producers for The Novice needed to find someone on the North Shore who could teach Forsyth how to row before rehearsals for The Novice started in two weeks’ time. A quick Google search led them straight to Gordon Rowing coach Maddie Hopkins ’18. “We trained her out of our boathouse on Chebacco Lake,” says Hopkins. “The director had given Amy a list of skills she was going to need. I was the first step. I got her to a point where she could fall out of a boat minimally as opposed to all the time.” When it comes to training novices, Hopkins is an expert. Over 60 percent of Gordon’s team is made up of athletes who’ve never rowed before. But that doesn’t stop Gordon from winning medals. Last year, Men’s Lightweight Rowing received a gold medal and national title at Dad Vail. Both competitors were walk-ons. You can watch The Novice on YouTube, iTunes, Apple TV or Amazon.
Genres: Horror, comedy
Mass Hysteria is the second feature film to come from the talented trio—Arielle Cimino ’13 (director), Jeff Ryan ’12 (co-director and leading actor) and Chris O’ Connell ’13 (screenwriter)—at First Names Films (FNF). It’s about a group of Salem witch trial re-enactors who “find themselves in the center of a modern-day witch hunt” led by angry tourists. You can watch it on Amazon, iTunes, Vimeo and Xbox One.
In reflecting on the process of making Mass Hysteria and Youthmin: A Mockumentary (which you’ll read more about below), Ryan and Cimino emphasize how important it is to have the right support. Ryan writes, “I think the small amount of success we’ve had is a result of collaborating [with] people you love and trust. If you’re going to make movies as a career, surround yourself with people that make you laugh.”
And ideas, like children, need the help of a village to reach maturity. “Gordon professors and the community have played a big role in making our dreams a reality,” writes Cimino. “The [network] of creative Gordon alumni may be small, but we are mighty.”
(Also known as Love & Busking and Fiction and Other Realities)
Genres: Music drama, foreign language film
Music and Reality is a Korean music drama based on the real life of singer-songwriter Bobby Choy ’02, who plays himself in the film. The story follows a Korean American musician living in New York City who feels “like a stranger in the country he was born in.” Through a friend, Choy’s character travels to Seoul. He finds himself wanting to stay in a place “where everyone looks like him.” (It’s also based on the story of how he met his wife.)
At its core, Music and Reality is a story about identity, self-worth, human connection and the universal language of music. You can watch the film on IPTV or listen to the original motion picture soundtrack on Spotify. On the project’s Kickstarter page, Choy wrote, “This story touches on some of the challenges/issues many Americans of immigrant parents still face today but aren’t represented in mainstream media, such as feature films.” That’s part of what makes Music and Reality so special.
If you don’t have access to a Korean streaming service, be sure to check out Choy’s work behind the camera on the YouTube Original series K-Pop Evolution.
Genres: Horror, thriller
During his time as the first junior creature modeler for Lucasfilm company Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), Tom Wholley ’11 helped create the digital model for the aliens in John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place. Wholley’s task, per Krasinski’s instructions, was to create a monster that had the physique of a bat and a face that resembled a school of fish. “In creature design, it’s all about finding certain things in nature you infuse into whatever fictional creature you’re making,” Wholley explains. “It’s a good rule of thumb to break any creature down to three different animals. You mash them together and you get something that is completely new. It’s alien, but still grounded.”
To witness more of Wholley’s otherworldly creations, be sure to take a closer look at the Decepticon Transformers in the Transformers prequel: Bumblebee, the frog Grogu (aka Baby Yoda) eats in episode four of The Mandalorian, and the character Hyperius in Halo Infinite. You can also read a longer version of Wholley’s story on The Bell.
It’s healthy to poke fun at the communities that helped raise us. In this mockumentary, we get to relive some of the funniest and most cringeworthy moments from youth group—or see them on screen for the first time thanks to the collective genius of Ryan, Cimino, O’ Connell and their independent film company, First Names Films. This mockumentary follows youth pastor David Bauer as he brings his youth group to Bible camp for some spiritual growth and friendly competition.
O’Connell writes, “[Youthmin] comes from a place of love. We all had good experiences at Christian summer camp, but the outsized personalities which are present in every youth group were begging for a proper comedic roasting.” Watch the full movie on Amazon or Vimeo. (You may even spot a few familiar faces among the cast, since all of the main characters in Youthmin are Gordon grads!) You can read more about the making of this mockumentary on The Bell.
Genres: Music documentary, biopic
This music documentary, created by Nate Gowtham ’99 and Aaron Faulls ’98, follows the life of Men at Work frontman and singer-songwriter Colin Hay. When asked about what inspired him to take on this project, Gowtham writes, “Being a child of the ’80s, I grew up on those massive hits like ‘Down Under’ and ‘Who Can It Be Now?’. . . and later when encountering Colin’s solo work, I was stunned by the warmth and expressiveness of his voice and the depth and breadth of his songwriting.” A central theme in this documentary is that creativity is a lifeline, explains Gowtham. “After Men at Work dissolved, Colin had to rebuild his audience from scratch. He went from playing to tens of thousands of people with Men at Work to playing in bars as a solo artist to literally no one,” says Faulls. “As he says in the film, creativity was his salvation,” writes Gowtham. Today, you can watch the film on Amazon or Tubi, or check out more of Gowtham’s sound engineering work on the documentary The Damned—Don’t You Wish That We Were Deadand his own album Dark Jean Jacket.
“If anyone ever asks me how far two Bromley roommates can go, I can confidently answer: at least three continents in a year and all the way to Amazon Prime,” says Faulls, who will be on the road with Green Day for the better part of 2022–2023.
Genres: Comedy, arthouse, documentary
This lively documentary about a beloved Jewish folk song will take you back to Marv Wilson’s Modern Jewish Culture class or a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park. It’s about the power of one melody, brought from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the cul-de-sacs of America, that has the power to connect us all. Watch the trailer or full documentary on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Apple TV or VUDU.
Lisa Thomas ’77 was an executive producer on the film. It was made by the documentary company, Katahdin Productions, which Thomas founded in 2003 for the purpose of creating high quality documentaries to provoke dialogue and encourage positive social change. Katahdin Productions has created and co-created many outstanding films since it’s inception. You’ll also want to check out Seeing Allred (Netflix), Who Will Write Our History (Apple TV or iTunes), Birddog Nation (Amazon and Apple TV). Learn more about all of Katahdin’s 21 documentaries on the nonprofit’s website.