Say his name; Rider professor screens his film

By Christian McCarville

Students tend to forget just how immersed their professors are in their field of study.

For many, the most qualified professors have had large amounts of experience in their subject matter and walked the same paths that their students are currently navigating. Some professors are still making large strides within their respective fields.

Jay Stern is a prime example of one of these professors. Stern is a professor in the communications department and specializes in teaching film classes.

Stern, having much experience in directing both film and theater, directed a feature-length film titled “Say My Name” that debuted in 2018 in the United Kingdom.

The film later debuted in the United States in 2019, earning “Best Indie Film,” “Best Actor” and “Best Director” awards at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

While it is evident that Stern has had a lot of directing experience, he explains that a director is never fully finished perfecting their craft.

“You learn a lot from every film you do. I think on this one I learned to trust my instincts a bit more and to be more decisive about things,” said Stern.

The movie stars Lisa Brenner as Mary Page and Nick Blood as Statton Taylor. Mary and Statton are complete strangers engaging in a one-night stand when they are interrupted by a robbery. The plot of the film then follows the two as they struggle to reobtain what was stolen from them.

On Sept. 26, a screening of the film took place in the Bart Luedeke Center theater moderated by Cynthia Lucia. The screening was free to all who were interested in watching Stern’s film. Following the screening there was a Q&A with Stern, Writer Deborah Frances-White, Producer and lead actor Lisa Brenner and Director of Photography Alan McIntyre Smith.

“I thought the film was surprising because I did not know what to expect going in, but it made me laugh within the first two minutes,” said sophomore film, TV and radio major Ben Ross.

“I personally thought the film was amazing, definitely straying away from other films where the roles are reversed and the female lead is such a driving character. I think it was executed perfectly,” said sophomore film, TV and radio major Danny Allen.

Stern explained that the production of this film was slightly different than what he was typically used to, which provided him with small challenges that he learned to overcome.

“Normally I work with smaller crews, so it was a bit of a challenge — and a luxury — to work with such a large team on this one. Plus, there was a learning curve to working in another country with other production procedures,” said Stern.

Stern also stated that he finds ways to incorporate his films into his classes.

“I would like to try and incorporate the way he wrote his script into my own work. All of the dialogue felt so natural even with all of the insane situations these characters were in. If I could learn how to write complex situations like that and make it feel normal, that would be great,” said Ross.

Allen enjoyed the writing of the film as well, and was intrigued by the cinematography and lighting of the shots.

“I adored the cinematography of the film and I want to use the style of lights and color when in dark lit rooms to create a party vibe,” said Allen.

For those who were unable to attend the screening, the movie is available online to buy and rent on Amazon Prime Video.

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