SUNY Broome students interested in writing, publishing, and film production had the unique experience of participating in an open conversation with two industry professionals who have teamed up to bring the critically acclaimed novel, Thirty-Three Cecils, to the big screen.
Facilitated by the Communications and Media Arts Department, students met with author and screenwriter, Everett De Morier, and producer, Kelly Fancher, to explain their upcoming project and answer questions about careers in writing and film production.
Everett De Morier’s first novel, Thirty-Three Cecils, was published in 2015 and won the top fiction prize at the London Book Festival. Soon after, Thirty-Three Cecils was optioned to be made into a film. De Morier adapted his novel into a screenplay and the ball has been rolling ever since.
“Thirty-Three Cecils is about overcoming odds, redemption, and second chances. It’s funny, but most readers stop somewhere in the book and google the main characters to see if this story really happened. It didn’t. It’s fiction. But I take the googling as a compliment,” laughed De Morier.
Both Broome County natives, De Morier and Fancher were insistent that a large portion of the filming of Thirty-Three Cecils take place in Binghamton.
“Binghamton functions as a character in both the book and the screenplay. It just doesn’t make sense to film it anywhere else,” said Fancher.
Thirty-Three Cecils will begin shooting this summer and will last roughly six weeks, with two weeks of prep and four weeks of production. As a tier 1 film, the majority of the positions connected to the production are required to be filled by union professionals. There will, however, be supportive positions that will be open to the public, and particularly to students interested in filmmaking.
In addition to working as a producer of Thirty-Three Cecils, Kelly Fancher serves as the Film Commissioner for the Binghamton Film Office. Fancher hopes that Thirty-Three Cecils will be the first of many major motion pictures to be filmed in Broome County.
“The last major motion picture to be filmed in Binghamton was Liebestraum thirty years ago. My hope is that we won’t have to wait too long before other films follow in the footsteps of Thirty-Three Cecils and film in our area. Shooting in Broome County provides a major boost to our local economic development,” said Fancher.
For two hours, students peppered the panelists with non-stop questions on everything from “do writers need to outline” to “how does a movie get cast?”
De Morier detailed his writing process, discussed the differences between constructing a novel versus a screenplay, and shared his insights on the role of writers in the film industry. Fancher provided an overview of the hierarchy on a movie-set, described the logistics of making a film, and delineated the responsibilities of a producer.
“Producers are a lot of things to a lot of people. We are primarily resourceful fire stompers, but often act as coaches and therapists,” laughed Fancher.
Both De Morier and Fancher left the students with quality, practical advice. “Read everything you can. The good and the bad,” said De Morier.
Writing students were encouraged to read, Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need, by Blake Snyder and film students given the suggestion to watch The Movies that Made Us on Netflix.
The panelists were genuinely appreciative for the support that they received from SUNY Broome’s students and for their excitement about the film. Students interested in being involved in the production were encouraged to connect with their instructors for further information.
“Being in the film industry is like joining the circus. Once you join the circus, you can’t leave. You want to tell stories. You want to make magic. You want to connect with people. We are just so honored that we get to tell a beautiful story and do it in our home community of Binghamton, NY,” said Fancher.