Seneca High School graduate Joseph Lupo’s passion for creating animation and drumming up ideas for videos came at a young age.
“I always loved the collaboration process. I love seeing everyone do what they do best and using their talents to help make the final product,” he said.
In eighth grade, Lupo made his first “film.”
“I watch that video now and think it’s really bad, but it’s fun to look back at the route of it all,” Lupo said.
From that point on, he was hooked.
In high school, Lupo took a series of television production classes with technology teacher Kirk Seeley. He credited those classes and his television homeroom for aiding him in developing a lot of the fundamental skills needed to make films.
“I was really lucky to go to the high school I went to,” Lupo said. “The studio there was state of the art compared to many other high schools.”
Lupo was accepted to Rutgers University in the fall of 2013 where he joined the RU-TV Broadcast Communications Living Learning Community. Though the school does not offer film as an official major, it offers this community that provides a prime living situation for students interested in film.
Lupo had a production studio on the floor he lived on where he met some of his best friends whom he still works with to this day despite many of them graduating and moving on.
“Many of the people on the floor were older than I was, and they taught me a lot about making films,” he said.
Lupo majored in journalism and media studies and also enrolled in an eight-track film certificate program, enabling him to take classes with well-established industry professionals who have helped him improve on a number of skills necessary for successful film production.
“I’m essentially trying to build my skills in all aspects of media production — film, broadcasting, radio, etc.” Lupo said.
This has proven to be an effective route for Lupo, as he was recently invited to attend the Cannes International Film Festival in May, where his film “Let’s put on a Puppet Show” will be screened.
When he received the news, he began browsing the acceptance email over and over for any stipulations because he was too excited to process it at first.
“I’m probably more excited for this than I have been for anything in my entire life,” he said.
He specifically expressed gratitude to the chair of the Journalism and Media Studies Department, Jack Bratich, Rutgers Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Barbara A. Lee and Dean Lea Stewart of Rutgers’ Livingston Campus for helping him with the funding for his first trip to France.
“I am a mix of nervous, excited and anxious about my trip,” Lupo said. “This is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
He was selected for the festival through Rutgers annual “Campus Moviefest,” the world’s largest student film festival that many schools across America participate in. This an event put on by the school in which it gives film enthusiasts less than one week to create their best work. The top 16 films get screened at the campus finale, and the top four films move on to get screened in Hollywood each year.
After helping out with a film in last year’s contest, Lupo knew he wanted to create his own film this year. About a month before the event, his friend, Anthony Mollica, made a terrifying looking puppet that gave Lupo a sudden wave of inspiration.
“The puppet was too creepy not to do something with it,” he said.
He immediately thought of his entire storyline for “Let’s put on a Puppet Show” and entered into the hectic week of Campus MovieFest.
The experience was one he will never forget. He said everything prior to this film was a mere exercise compared to the work he put into this. Since then, Lupo has finished a second film and is working on a third.
He doesn’t have a particular job in mind for his life after college, but he is dedicated to continuing to improve himself and honing his craft. Ideally, he would like to one day be working in New York City in television or film.
“I just love seeing the process of my ideas going from a rough idea on paper, to a script, to raw footage, to a fully edited film,” Lupo said. “I especially love when the film I make closely matches the vision I had in my head.”