May 6, 2015
WASHINGTON - Senior linebacker Nick Alfieri (Portland, Ore./Jesuit/The Hotchkiss School) will conclude his undergraduate career this week on the Hilltop, but his best learning experience, to date, may come in a few weeks in the same neighborhoods that have become his home during the last four years, as he prepares to work as an Associate Producer on the feature-length film "Lady-Like."
Alfieri, the 2014 No. 35 Joe Eacobacci Memorial Jersey Recipient, and the third leading tackler in program history (322), has always loved film. The aspiring filmmaker grew up putting together short films with his brothers then continued with his teammates on the Hilltop. Last year he earned "Best Dramatic Film" at the Georgetown Film Festival, with "Gray Areas" and has lent his talents to the football program producing game highlight films and other special projects for the program's official website and social media accounts.
The Portland, Oregon native will attend USC Film School in Los Angeles next year, but before he moves back to the west coast he will team up with former Hoya football star and current writer/director Brent Craft (C' 08) along with producer Matt Nemeth, another Georgetown graduate, to film the buddy-comedy "Lady-Like" that will shoot during the final two weeks of May.
"You have all of these mottos, like `Four for 40' and `Men for Others,' and it's just really cool to see that come to life and be something tangible," Alfieri said of Craft adding him to the project. "The support that I've had and the connections I've made in the film world and industry, it's not something you typically think about as a Georgetown guy, but it's been crazy. One of my main recommendations for USC came from Stu Pollard, who (Head Coach Rob) Sgarlata had introduced me to. So it's the Georgetown football network that goes so much further beyond what you'd expect."
Alfieri and Craft never donned the Blue & Gray at the same time, but Craft, who starred as a wide receiver for the Hoyas in the mid-2000's, has continued to follow the program and found Alfieri due to his work in producing videos for the program.
"It helped that he wore the No. 35 this year," Craft admitted about finding Alfieri. "But I had stumbled across some of the videos that he had done online, he had done some cool team videos, and I kind of put together that there was this young filmmaker on the team. I connected with that, so I started watching some of his movies on YouTube and saw that he was a `Team Oscar' finalist, so once I put a foot in the ground and decided I was going to make this thing, I reached out to him and he's been a great teammate and partner ever since."
Alfieri will have a feature-length film on his resume before even attending graduate school, a start in the business that Craft was not afforded. The film bug did not go as deep into childhood for Craft, but it was also not something he came into accidentally. Craft possessed the talent, he just needed the right focus.
"My writing started in college at Georgetown. I would start writing scenes on the bus to away games and pass it around to teammates to try to make guys laugh," Craft remembered.
Following his graduation from Georgetown in 2008, he signed a contract to play professional football in the Arena Football League. In his offseason he worked on building his film resume, getting his start as a football extra and working his way up in NBC's `Friday Night Lights' series, among other projects. He spent a few years in Los Angeles, looking for a break as a writer, but after experiencing rejection, Craft made the decision to move to New York and pursue his own project away from studio-backing, as he began writing the script for "Lady-Like".
"As far as making this actual project, I had been frustrated after being pretty close to making my first script sale for a project I co-wrote in Los Angeles with another writer," Craft said. "When that fell through, we got a lot of positive feedback from experienced producers in the industry, but I was frustrated. I decided to move back to New York, I didn't think I was done with film, but I just didn't know how to keep pursuing it. Then I had thought that in this day and age it makes more sense to make something yourself and prove to everyone that you can do it."
Craft has spent close to two years working on the script, now his waking hours are consumed with pre-production for the film along with his team, a team that thought about adding Alfieri more as a way of giving a college senior a chance. But the soon-to-be college graduate has been a welcome addition to the project.
"At first I thought it was more us helping him out and it would be cool to give him this experience and that was special to me because I came out of there not really sure what to do with my interest in film," Craft said. "I was still focused on football and signed with an arena team right out of college, so I didn't have the same kind of guidance. But now looking back I think he's really added more value to us than we've given him which is great."
The two began speaking about the film in December and did not meet until making their video for the fund-generating website Kickstarter.com in February. But they were able to connect right away due to their shared Georgetown football background and similar work ethic.
"So we both played for Coach Sgarlata, so we have a common bond there," Craft said. "When we shot the Kickstarter video it almost felt like I was back at Georgetown in that sort of system, so we just clicked right away. It worked really easily right out of the gate and it was special. Nick is a tremendous team player, he never complains, he just is ready to do whatever it takes."
Conversely, the mentoring and experience that Alfieri has received from Craft and the rest of the crew in just the pre-production phase will be valuable to the young filmmaker.
"All of those guys are a little older than me, so they've been through the ropes of just graduating college," Alfieri reasoned. "They've been awesome, especially Brent, in walking me through this process...I've just been taking full advantage of working with these guys and learning what I can. I took a film class here, but you can't beat the experience of making a feature-length film and then I'll have the opportunity to go to film school and fine tune everything. It will hopefully give me a leg up when I get there."
With Craft and Nemeth in New York City, Alfieri has been able to be their "man on location" in D.C. while going through all the fine details in pre-production work, an aspect of the job that is new to him.
"The pre-production stuff is all the business end like location, casting and all of the other stuff that goes into it," Alfieri said. "Once we actually get to the shooting for that two-week period it will be more of the artistic stuff, which is what I'm looking forward to, but it's cool getting both sides of filmmaking through this whole experience."
The artistic side is, after all, what drew Craft to seeking out Alfieri, who will make his feature-film debut helping shape the look and feel of the film.
"My official title right now is associate producer and I'm also going to be working very closely with Brent, who is going to be directing, on the visuals and look of the film. He has seen all of my stuff, so he liked how I envision certain things."
A few weeks away from production the group has been aided by a strong movement via the film's Kickstarter page. In early April the film "Lady-Like" was named a "Staff Pick", a nod that helped them make major gains toward their final goal.
"The staff pick really helped generate attention on (Kickstarter.com)," Nemeth said. "We didn't really know that going in, we thought most of our funding would come from friends and family and people we knew, but apparently a lot of funding is raised just through site traffic. If you're a staff pick, you're higher up on the page, you get more site traffic and more people can get behind your project."
In the meantime Craft will continue to spend his waking hours preparing for his directorial debut on the set of the film, having gained some confidence through his on-camera work.
"To some degree (Friday Night Lights) has given me a sense of confidence to direct, though I'm not sure whether I deserve it or not," Craft joked. "It happens right in front of your eyes, so it takes out some of the mystery and some of the fear, so that was helpful for me. I do think some of it has helped me to be more comfortable on set. Right now, I'm trying to meet with and talk to as many filmmakers as possible. One is actually Connor Allen, a Georgetown grad, so he's given me a lot of advice."
For Alfieri, it will be a whirlwind May, as he prepares to walk in graduation before spending two restless weeks filming.
"It's been crazy working with Brent and the whole Georgetown football connection," Alfieri said. "It really feeds into our `Four for 40' message and is this perfect Georgetown connection where I'm getting this opportunity where I otherwise wouldn't have."