A film with RIT connections has its second Los Angeles film festival screening on Jan. 31 in the Chaplin Theater of Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, Calif. Bearcat Productions’ debut feature film, The Essentials, was directed and produced by Brendan Nagle ’10 (film and animation production) with help from cinematographer and producer Aaron Gordon, a fourth-year film and animation production major at RIT.
The Essentials is the story of an aging ex-spy (Jim Toepper) who takes on a young protégé (Chris Barbis) to help him crack one last case—an international drug smuggling ring in Canada.
Nagle says that the film wouldn’t have been possible without Jim Toepper, a local Rochester actor who has been volunteering his time and home in student films at RIT for more than 20 years. “There were dozens of individuals of all ages, throughout this city, that certainly took part in this project for nothing more than the love of it all,” says Nagle.
Nagle founded Bearcat Productions in 2009 as his professional and personal conglomerate of multimedia works. He and Gordon began production on The Essentials in 2011. Test screenings of the film were held throughout Rochester, Syracuse and Little Falls before the completion of the final cut was taken to the American Film Market in Santa Monica, Calif. The film’s first festival acceptance was to the Hollywood & Vine Film Festival in December 2012, where it took home awards of best director, best cinematography, best editing and was the audience choice for best feature film.
“RIT has a great film production program because of the people involved and the technology available at the school. An early exposure to all of that industry gear and the overall process lets kids know very early on as to what exactly they’re getting themselves into for the next four years,” Nagle says. “Not to mention the school has, on file, a plethora of local volunteer actors who are usually just as committed—if not even more so—to playing that role as you are to capturing it.”