Walt Whitman grad has film in SXSW festival -- Gazette.Net


This story was corrected Feb. 19, 2014. An explanation follows the story.

Bryan Reisberg, a 2006 graduate of Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, is now a filmmaker in New York — and is climbing the cinema industry ladder.

Reisberg’s first feature film, “Big Significant Things,” which he wrote and directed, has been selected for the 2014 SXSW — South by Southwest — Film Festival in Austin, Texas, March.

The film is one of 21 to be screened in the festival’s Visions category, which organizers describe as “audacious, risk-taking artists in the new cinema landscape that demonstrate raw innovation and creativity in documentary and narrative filmmaking.”

Reisberg said he began learning his craft at Whitman in a group called Whitman Shorts.

“It was a class you applied to — you learned how to use recording equipment, video cameras and how to edit,” he said. “It was pretty much where I got started.”

Members of the class covered Whitman sports and basic news, he said, and made “funny” shorts about them that would be shown on the school’s closed-circuit TV every month or so.

He also took a two-week filmmaking course at American University while in high school and wrote a mockumentary in which he played fraternal twins of different races who wanted to grow up normal.

“We actually shot a gambling and crack cocaine scene in the parking lot of the Giant [Food store] in Potomac,” he said.

After graduating from Whitman, Reisberg attended film school at New York University, graduating in 2009.

“Big Significant Things” is an escapist movie, Reisberg said.

“It grew out of the idea of ‘what if I just left,’” he said. “Throwing caution to the wind is a funny, sad notion.”

Another local connection in the film is a former area disc jockey.

“Not sure if you remember ‘After Hours,’ the nighttime radio program on WASH FM that featured Radio DJ Glenn Hollis,” Reisberg wrote in an email. “I grew up listening to him at night, and all the people from the Washington DC-Metropolitan area that would call in with love dedications and professions. I actually got in touch with him when I was writing the script and asked if he would play the role of a Radio DJ featured throughout the film. So after we wrapped production, I drove down to his house in Maryland and recorded with him at the studio he has in his house.”

Reisberg said he has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to finish and promote the film during its run on the festival circuit. To contribute, visit kickstarter.com and search “Big Significant Things.”

Explanation: An earlier version of this story misstated the reason for the Kickstarter campaign.