Tisch senior brings film crew to California for thesis

courtesy of Steve Fogel

Tisch senior Nora Unkel raised enough money to fly the cast and crew of her thesis film to California to shoot in the Sacramento-Davis area. The team filmed footage for “The Goblin Song,” a fantasy-musical based on a 19th-century poem, “The Goblin Market.”

The production received a multitude of donations from the community surrounding Unkel’s hometown, Davis, Calif.

“We got $15,000 in kind donations from the businesses of the Davis area,” Unkel said. “I’m so grateful to my incredible community at home.”

In addition to donations from her hometown, Unkel utilized resources on the web to reach out to others, as well as using her own savings.

“We raised $11,000 on Indiegogo and I provided $11,000 myself from the last four years of working various jobs,” Unkel said.

Unkel’s film is a musical fairytale with a dark twist. It tells the story of two sisters who fall under the spell of the alluring Goblin King, but must break free when things take a dark turn. The fantasy world of the film left lots of room for creative interpretation by film cinematographer Cory Fraiman-Lott.

“So often the cinematographer, especially on student films, [is] limited to real-life resources, but this genre opened a lot of doors for me to make the scenes look as interesting as possible,” Fraiman-Lott said. “In the goblin’s lair I had a lot of fun playing with the moonlight and the texture of the goblin’s skin.”

Beginning this project when she was a freshman, Unkel collaborated with her current crew early on in her film career. She had no trouble convincing friends and classmates to help fulfill the other crew positions for this next step of the project. Unkel’s narrative film professor, Ezra Sacks, also supported the project.

“She had a terrific crew, I didn’t know how it would turn out, but I knew it would get done and done well,” Sacks said.

Although Unkel overcame the location problem, “The Goblin Song” did have another challenge — having the actors sing live on set. Film composer Tisch senior Ben Nelson drew inspiration from “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Sweeney Todd” to compose songs that accurately reflected the mood in each scene.

“Performance played such a role in the music that we thought it would be best to have live singing on set,” Nelson said.

The performances in “The Goblin Song” played as big a role as the set design and costumes for the film. The goblin costumes and the production design consisted of romantic elements of Victorian England.

“After three years of preparation, it was as if my idea was taken from my imagination and put on screen,” Unkel said. “It was one of the best moments of my life to hear, ‘That’s a wrap on “The Goblin Song.”’”

“The Goblin Song,” which will be completed by Aug. 15, will be submitted to various film festivals.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 3 print edition. Sidney Butler is a contributing writer. Email her at features@nyunews.com.

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