Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Feature Film? No, A Feature Article!

Being interviewed by your hometown's newspaper is a surreal experience. When I was growing up, my parents got the Worcester Telegram & Gazette delivered daily. Earlier this week, my sister Jess and I were interviewed by Nancy Sheehan at the T&G!

Going into the call, I thought we would speak about...well...Worcester. I was thinking that we would discuss how Worcester and the arts have shaped our lives. However, the first question Nancy asked was, "Do you know an eye doctor?" Without missing a beat, I answered, "Why yes I do. He's my Dad." This is usually the first question that people ask me in the Worcester area. I can't tell you how many times I've been checking out of a store, and someone will take my credit card....or I'll be making a reservation for dinner....or I'll show ID to get into a movie (no joke, I was carded the last time I went to Showcase North), people will say "Any relation?" My dad has been practicing in the area for almost three decades, seeing 80 patients a day. He's met a few people. And, well, there aren't that many Arinellas.

Alicia Arinella on vacation in the Badlands with her dad, Dr. Dennis Arinella

After we got past the Dr. Arinella connection, we hit the ground running. Nancy asked the general questions -' What's a normal day for you entail?' 'How do you pick projects?' Throughout it all, she made me feel very comfortable and willing to share details about my life and my business. I haven't talked about my hometown and what it was like to grow up there in such detail before. This was a first for me.

She also asked how growing up in the arts has effected me. One of the reasons why we chose "Arts in Education" as the first issue for the upcoming webseries "What You Can Do", is because growing up with the arts proved to be incredibly important to Jess and me. We took dance from the ages of 4 and 3, we started acting in summer camps at the ages of 7 and 5 and we took classes at the local art museum during the summers. More specifically for me, two events in high school would go on to shape my entire career.

My sophomore year, I walked into Lea Hench's office - she was the head of the drama department at the time. I was interested in getting into the technical side of theater, and my sister suggested stage management. I asked if she would consider me for the upcoming productions. She said that they were crewed up for the musical, but I could take the drama. Just like that. I walked into the first rehearsal, not knowing anything about stage management, but wanting to do everything right. I came with a binder and several pencils. I was given the script and was nudged in the right direction. Stage Managing taught me so much about organization, about managing people and cemented the fact that I did NOT want to be an actor. Being behind the scenes, invisibly guiding people, that to me was where the magic happened.

The other memorable experience came three years later. The summer before my senior year, I had already graduated in my mind. I didn't want to go back to school for another year. My dear friend Chip suggested that I "document" the year with my camera. It was one of those sky parting moments. I had never thought that would be an option - and frankly - that suggestion cemented my future as a film maker. (Thanks Chipper!)

Alicia poses with her good friend Chip Sbrogna (now a Senior Designer at LucasArts)

At the start of the year, I scheduled a meeting with our head master, and he granted me approval to shoot a documentary of my senior year. At the time, I didn't know to even ask for credit, but I was granted access to shoot, so the rest was inconsequential. I was required to have an advisor that would guide me throughout the year. My school didn't have a film program, so I asked my drama teacher - Paul Belanger and he agreed. I was given approval to shoot all school events, teachers and students. After shooting that documentary, my fate was sealed. I was a filmmaker.

Check back tomorrow to read part to of my recount of the interview....

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