Phantom Mary: Alumnus Makes Big Screen Dreams A Reality


Courtesy of Nello De Angelis

Logan Gilbert, News Editor

For many college graduates, the time after graduation can be a daunting time of aimlessness as the reality of unstructured life first truly grips those that trade out due dates and grades for deadlines and employee evaluations. This freedom of choice can cause some students who do not know where they want to go with their lives and their degrees to panic, but for some the time out of college allows them to experience a creative renaissance as they taste liberty in their lives.

For Nello De Angelis, who graduated in 2016 from Seattle University with a degree in Film Studies, what he wanted to do with his major quickly became apparent: he wanted to make a movie. His directorial debut, a film called “Phantom Mary,” is a feature length film that he hopes to show at film festivals this year.

De Angelis did not come to Seattle U knowing that he wanted to become a filmmaker and went through the process of growing as a storyteller since leaving his old home in Arizona.

“So I came here actually as an English major and a film minor and then when I said that my favorite book was Holes I got laughed out of the class so I didn’t actually declare film till my senior year,” De Angelis said.

This all caused De Angelis to go a nontraditional route when he got involved in the industry. The film did not go through the usual process of getting the greenlit by a studio, but was instead funded by a Kickstarter made by De Angelis. While De Angelis did not want to spoil the film he was able to give a little synopsis of the story.

“The story concerns a young woman who’s been alive for two thousand something years… falls in love with this younger guy but he’s a drug addict and…he overdoses. She tries to save him. So she goes against this sort of natural order of things for the first time and all these things kind of spiral out of control after that when the guy wakes up and now he’s a vampire too,” De Angelis said.

As a Seattle U Graduate, the story is very grounded in the setting of Capitol Hill and the culture of Seattle U. De Angelis hopes to educate people about the problems that the area faces with his work as he implements the message about the danger of drug abuse and how it affects the community here.

“Vampires it’s been used as an allegory for drug addiction sexual sort of addictions everything like that. And Capitol Hill is sort of this hub of cocaine abuse.”

For the film, De Angelis is not the only Seattle U graduate who is working on the film but rather there is a whole team of alumni including Ruby Paiva, Brandon Kim, and Joe Manuel. Joe Manuel, who did marketing for the film, is a student who graduated in 2017 with a degree in Marketing.

When asked about why he thinks Capitol Hill and the Seattle U area impacted the film and himself so much he talked about the friends that he was able to make and the people he was able to meet not only on campus, but off campus as well.

“There are a diverse range of communities on Capitol Hill and the location of SU naturally encourages students to go out and discover other social circles in the city they want to become involved in,” Manuel said.

The film was not an easy time for the team though, as they had a lot of work to get done during the course of the shooting and less time then was preferred. Since the film was not bankrolled by a studio most of the people that worked on the film got very little money from the film and had to work a full-time job for an income. Everyone helped out where they could including Manuel who joked about the process of marketing a movie while it was in production.

“Doing promotions, I had a pretty easy job during production: stay out of the way, take pictures for social media, and give people a hand when need be. The crew shot for 30 days straight, sometimes they’d shoot for 15 hours a day. One challenge was balancing working full-time and then going to the set afterward,” Manuel said.

The team had a message for all of the students that are wondering how they could get involved in their film professionally. De Angelis had a message for any students who wanted to tell story.

“If you want to make a film, just go out and steal a camera, make your film however you can.”

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