Ariel Frenkel ′08, knew at a very young age that he wanted to be an actor, but didn’t know he would be as comfortable behind the scenes as well as in the scene. That was until he found himself writing, directing, and starring in his first feature film, Pluto.
“Being behind the camera was terrifying, but it was also an exciting and rewarding experience,” says Frenkel.
Frenkel self-financed the film, which took about two weeks to shoot, and about two years to complete. “I was tired of waiting around for an opportunity to come to me, so I created it for myself,” says the North Brunswick native. Now living in Queens, Frenkel shot the film around New York City and parts of New Jersey, including the campus of his alma mater, of course.
Frenkel said that he began to think about the script right after his graduation, and recruited many of his former theatre major peers to be a part of the film. “I met a great group of actors and friends at Montclair State,” he said. Frenkel credits the “talented and supportive faculty” of the Theatre Department, and small class environment for his confidence and drive to achieve his professional goals.
While at Montclair State, Frenkel won the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Award at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Since graduation, he has performed in many regional theatres, as well as television commercials, and films. He is a member of StrangeDog, a New Jersey-based theatre company, which he founded with five Montclair State theatre alumni, and a member of Cake Battered Wives, a New York-based improvisational group. Frenkel produced Pluto through his own production company, FireCracker Chicken Films, LLC.
Frenkel’s film, Pluto, tells the story of a resourceful young man with the time and, most importantly, the money (because we all know you can’t have “time” without “money”!) to create a “unique” hobby of disguising himself and interfering with the lives of strangers.
The next steps for Frenkel will be dedicated to marketing the film to independent film distributors and hosting the film’s premiere, which he hopes to bring full circle back to Montclair State campus.