by Jonathan Sperling
JPCatholic alumni J.J. Schindler and Vince Salerno knew they had walked into the right place at the right time when they were unexpectedly approached on the street and invited to star in a public service announcement created by an Emmy-award winning director from San Diego.
The two JPCatholic students were engaged in a conversation about an acting class as they walked from school. While crossing the street, they passed a group of people who they thought were construction workers. They soon learned this group was a film crew scouting a location. “As we passed and they heard me talking about acting, one of them called to me,” J.J. explained. “The guy calling out to me was the director, Kevin Caulfield. He asked me if I was an actor to which I quickly responded ‘yes’. As it turns out, they had both their actors drop and they needed two guys that could look like they were in their teens.”
With a little research they learned that Kevin was an Emmy-award winning director. The project they were being asked to act in would be submitted in this year’s running at the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the Pacific Southwest region. After reading the script, they agreed and were on set early that Saturday morning.
Both actors settled into their roles with ease, and recount that any nervousness quickly disappeared once on the set. Vince was impressed by the demeanor and competence of the crew. He described the experience as “professional” and having a high production quality. Similarly, J.J. described his experience working with the crew as “amazing”.
The PSA, entitled Indistinguishable, is meant to foster awareness about discrimination and promote unity. The film portrays two American teens that act on their prejudice toward Muslims but are left questioning their actions after an unexpected wake-up call. It has been featured on San Diego’s Fox 5 channel as well as ABC10 San Diego.
Ultimately, the film won another Emmy for writer/director Kevin Caulfield. Kevin is a former Marine who is currently pursuing his film degree at University of Southern California. Since being on set, J.J. and Vince have built a professional and personal relationship with both Kevin and Jesse Barron, the producer and director of photography of Indistinguishable. “We have become a really close network of guys. We hang out, have business meetings, and work on feature projects,” says J.J.
When the crew of Arch, a recent JP Catholic senior project, was in need of a professional-grade, digital cinema camera, Jesse offered the use of his RED camera for the film. Both Kevin and Jesse visited the set of Arch and were impressed by the work ethic, positivity, and professionalism of the JP Catholic crew. When J.J. and Vince organized the annual Columbian Film Festival by the Knights of Columbus at JP Catholic, they invited Kevin to judge the entries. He was happy to show up and network with many aspiring filmmakers from the school.
This month, Vince and J.J. will be spending time in Los Angeles working with Kevin on the production of another short film. Looking back at the unexpected meeting in the street, J.J. recognizes God’s presence. “Overall we were very blessed to have the opportunity and it was obvious that God literally made us run into these guys to create new friendships, business partners, and future connections as we pursue the tedious path of becoming a filmmaker.”
Vince and J.J. graduated from JPCatholic in September, both earning a Bachelor of Science in Communications Media. They are both currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration in Film Producing.
Photo courtesy of Alfredo Martinez.