For junior Leo Massey, film takes on more meaning than just something he chose to major in. Instead, Massey sees film as a medium that can transcend race, religion and sexual orientation, messages his upcoming project aims to tackle. The talented, young filmmaker is currently writing, directing and producing a coming of age film titled “R O S E” inspired by true depictions of societal relations. In it, an elder widow, a spoiled Chinese American and a sexually confused African American French woman end up meeting by fortunate events.
“I am trying to express different cultures that are mingling together for one night,” Massey says. “I also want to show the change that is happening in the world.”
Massey says another main message of his film is the importance of not forgetting your roots as well as not assuming someone else is worse or better off than you in any sense. He hopes to express both the LGBTQ community and foreign society through his film while also addressing the moral responsibilities that carry with the generations before our own.
“My main inspiration for the film was my trip to Poland last year and seeing all the concentration camps. As a Jewish person, it’s touching knowing your grandparents survived those places and that, on top of the recent synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, made me want to create a film focused on culture,” Massey says. “There’s also the fact that so many different cultures and communities on campus don’t get recognized as much as they should.”
Massey says he wanted to put as much minority representation in the film as possible and that being Jewish is a great part of filmmaking for him as well as a source of inspiration.
“You have to do something that you are passionate about and that your foundation is built on. A lot of what I am doing in this film branches off of Judaism. The culture, family life, and growing up Jewish, are all elements that can be seen in my film,” Massey says.
Film was not always Massey’s main focus however and he explains that it originally started out as a hobby. Massey says he had always been interested in cinematography but had never taken any classes in it. Once enrolling at Penn State and in media studies classes though, Massey became more sure it was a passion that would dictate the rest of his career path.
Now, Massey takes his passion to a whole new level through various campus involvements and internships. He makes videos for a handful of different Penn State organizations and groups as well as downtown stores. He is also a part of the video team for CommAgency and VALLEY Magazine and is involved with Aish, Tallia Talks and Hillel.
“I believe that there are stories out there that need to be told,” Massey says. “I always have certain visions and when I walk around campus I see things that could be turned into films.”