Talented storytellers all get their start somewhere—whether it’s the New York City grid, the countryside of some foreign land or even the halls of Syosset High School and the streets of Woodbury.
Zachary Fallah, a 24-year-old professional filmmaker, has always had an intense love of film. As a youngster growing up in Woodbury, he remembers fantasizing about plot points and creating intricate character sketches in his mind. All those years of seemingly-endless hours of daydreaming coalesced into a desire to pursue film making as a career, landing him in focused courses in Syosset High School and later in film school surrounded by like-minded peers.
“I’ve always loved telling stories and creating characters,” said Fallah, who warmly remembers being inspired by his Syosset High School teacher David Favilla and is currently a thesis student at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. “I love to examine who people are; what motivates them and drives them.”
That desire to dissect the human condition inspired him to create film and video in various forms since 2005. Though he works primarily as a writer and director, he operates in all facets of film production including editing. In 2012, Fallah created Father Nelson Pictures, an independent studio specializing in short films. The first film born out of that venture was The Violin, written and directed by Fallah.
In all, Fallah has completed four short films. One of which, Truck, will be among the short films featured at the School of Visual Arts’ 26th Dusty Film & Animation Festival, held in New York City, Saturday, May 9 through Tuesday, May 12. Truck, a documentary, follows the story of Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Eddie “Truck” Gordon as he trains for grueling competition. Fallah said his documentary reveals Gordon’s rich back story of leaving the corporate slough in favor of a life giving and taking punches. It’s the type of character-driven tale that Fallah finds most enthralling.
“I knew how hard these guys worked, but spending time in training sessions put it in a new perspective,” he said. “They train for hours a day all for what amounts to only a few minutes in the ring. People might think they understand it, but I believe this piece brings to life how hard these guys actually work.”
Gordon’s personality in the documentary Truck illustrates Fallah’s belief in strong character elements being integral to a successful film. And in fiction, it’s perhaps more important; even with beautiful scenery and a swelling score, a film is only as good as the on-screen personalities brought to life by the actors.
“When I’m casting, I’m looking for someone that encompasses what I’ve written, but also someone who brings something that I didn’t think of,” he said. “A flavor all their own that I wasn’t quite expecting.”
Writing a narrative for actors to follow can be difficult, as can the art of directing. But for Fallah, some of the most difficult aspects of film making are born in the editing process.
“In documentaries especially, editing is the hardest,” he said. “You end up with 50 or 60 hours of footage that you have to cut down to like 20 minutes. You have to take a step back and look at it, not as the person who shot it, but as a viewer. You can’t get too attached to everything.”
Gearing up for the SVA film festival, Fallah praises the school for allowing hands-on learning in all aspects of filming.
“At this school, the first day they handed us a camera and told us to start working,” he said. “I met a lot of great people who have helped influence me and have helped me understand who I am as a filmmaker.”
As a filmmaker, Fallah looks to eventually make feature films—the ultimate goal for his own character development born on the winding Woodbury streets.
“I love making shorts and I’ll always make them for fun, but feature films is the real goal,” he said. “The most interesting aspect of humans is their drive. It’s human nature; the drive to accomplish goals.”
To learn more about Fallah’s work, visit www.zacfallah.com. For information on the SVA film festival, visit www.dusty.sva.edu.