Jake Silber ’22 Directs Classmates and Their Sparks of Genius Light up the Screen!

A group of Dwight students was especially excited for the lights to go down in the AMC Theater in Times Square during the 2021 All-American High School Student Film Festival because their work in a short film entitled “The Pickpocket” would soon be screened!

The student behind the camera as writer, director, and producer was Jake Silber ’22, who had enlisted fellow creative seniors to bring his vision to life. Actors Bernardo Sequeira, Carol Arap, Jane Barbero, and Grace Guthart were the on-screen talent; musician and composer Akhil Karra was the off-screen talent who scored the film. These students have been sharing their talents and artistic sparks of genius with us for several years.
Carol, Jane, and Bernardo have performed in numerous Dwight theater productions and Scene Nights. Akhil has performed in a variety of concerts and music celebrations, including Dwight’s global concerts at the Shanghai Concert Hall and Carnegie Hall, where he had the opportunity to conduct one of his own compositions. Grace has shared her talents on the volleyball court as Captain of our Girls Varsity team, which took home the ISAL championship title this year!
Jake, who has been a passionate photographer, has exhibited his work in our School exhibitions as well as in galleries in Manhattan and the Hamptons, while also receiving numerous awards in the annual NYC Scholastic Art and Writing Competition.
Sparking Creativity 
Jake came to Dwight specifically because he wanted to take the same digital media and film courses that his older brother, Max ’20, had enjoyed so much. From the beginning, Jake’s visual arts journey has been impressive. He cites two mentors for helping and supporting him along the way: Head of Visual Arts Justyn Ambrose and IB Film and Media teacher Kevin Rosenberg, 
“The Pickpocket” was filmed in Central Park last year when Jake was in the first of Dwight’s two-year IB Film course. Mr. Rosenberg had assigned students a project requiring them to film a short piece in one continuous shot without cuts or editing. “I was inspired by film noir and shot ‘The Pickpocket’ in black and white with no dialogue,” Jake explains. “We found some hats and accessories from the 1950s to bring in a feeling from that era. I also shared some music I liked with Akhil as inspiration. It was a great experience to work with my friends. Directing them was fun and they brought their own ideas, contributing to the final product.” 
“The Pickpocket” wasn’t Jake’s only film to debut in the same film festival — another entitled “The Betrayal” was also selected. This sci-fi film stars Jake’s parents in multiple roles and was scored by Akhil as well. 
Sci-fi and comedies are Jake’s favorite genres. To date, he has made several films in both Dwight’s film class and a summer online UCLA film course. “I also submitted some shorts I made during the UCLA course to film festivals and one was accepted into two festivals, which were livestreamed last year,” Jake says. With this impressive industry recognition, paired with his love of being behind the camera, it’s no surprise that Jake wants to pursue film studies in college. 
Learning about the Art Form 
Dwight’s IB HL Film course is designed to develop students as proficient interpreters and makers of film. It encompasses the study of film theory, criticism, cinematic movements, filmmaking and production processes, and more. Over two years, they study the content and technical aspects of film, while developing the skills and creative competencies to communicate through the language of film and express their own voice.  
“I love this course — it provides great resources and equipment and gives us so many opportunities to tell stories and make short films,” Jake explains. We take on different roles, such as writer, director, cinematographer, and editor; and every project has a different twist or challenge, such as making a silent film. The class pushes you to come up with ideas that you wouldn’t normally, and Mr. Rosenberg has been so great in helping me to shape these ideas and in providing feedback on my scripts. I have learned so much from him and our study of film analysis.”
Currently, Jake and his classmates are busy working on a comparative study of elements (cinematography, sound, etc.) in two films in the same genre, writing about films, developing their own portfolio, and reflecting on their own work. They’re also preparing to send off their film reel to the IB for assessment this spring. 

With college in his sights, Jake wants to study film next year. Max is doing the same at Boston University. It appears that the brothers — who have contributed to each other’s films both on and behind the camera — are on the same path to becoming professional filmmakers, perhaps a la the Coen Brothers!
Grab some popcorn and click to watch “The Pickpocket” and “The Betrayal!”

  • Visual Arts