Growing up in Chappaqua, New York, Jason Fine loved movies and enjoyed making short videos in iMovie. But it wasn’t until he arrived at the University of Michigan that he says he developed a strong passion for storytelling.
Now, the senior majoring in film, television, and media, is putting the finishing touches on an independent feature-length movie, “Burn Everything.” The film follows a high school theater director who gets recruited to produce a major motion picture but discovers that climbing the ladder to success can be dangerous.
Fine says he began work on the script for a class.
“But as the semester went along, I got the insatiable feeling of wanting to do something more with the project,” he says.
Through grants, some personal savings, and prize money from the Hopwood Awards, Fine was able to pull together a shoestring budget for a full shoot. But he still needed a lead actor. That’s when Fine saw a short film that featured U-M junior Caleb White.
“I remember seeing the short he was in and starting to panic about how I was going to pitch this to him,” Fine says. “At that point, it was Caleb or bust.”
White didn’t need much convincing and says he was excited about the opportunity.
“We spent a lot of time working together on casting the other characters, script changes, rehearsing, blocking scenes, and further developing my character,” White says. “A lot of work went into preparing for the actual shoot, but I think it was well worth it.”
The cast included U-M junior Maya Boyd and alum Charlotte Falk, ’22. Fine says the rest came from other universities, including UCLA, New York University, Harvard, and Boston University.
Last May, the cast and crew gathered for a 28-day shoot that took place in New York City; Westchester County, New York; and Greenwich, Connecticut.
“There were so many talented people working in this film,” White says. “Students from all over the country came together to make something special.”
Fine called the shoot one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of his life.
“I feel lucky to have shared this experience with so many incredible people, and I hold a lot of gratitude,” he says.
The project is in post-production.
“The goal once we finish the film is to submit it to festivals across the globe, but for now, our focus remains on making the best picture we can,” Fine says.
Jeremy Carroll is the content strategist for the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.