Young film auteur Nick McKernan rolls 'em

Just weeks after the Independent Film Festival, as film fever dies down, one local film maker is just getting started. Nick McKernan is already working on projects to submit to next year's festival. The interesting catch about McKernan is that he's only 13 years old.

"My main focus is to be a filmmaker when I grow up," said McKernan.

The young artist cites his initial fascination with film and filmmaking as stemming from the first time he saw a Stanley Kubrick film.

"The first time"&

166; I saw 'The Shining,' everything about it seemed completely different &

the shots, the music, etc."

While many youth are more fixated on temporal pursuits, this modest and clean-cut 4.0 GPA eighth grader is out pursuing his dream.

"I feel that every day you should get something accomplished," said McKernan. "And so I do. I try to stay out of the box. I could look at my day and say 'today I'll watch ten hours of television,' or I can choose to try something I've never done before."

When McKernan works on one of his own projects, he finds himself faced with many considerations.

"I try to work in different shots from a different perspective than what one would normally consider. There has to be a good story &

a good lead-on into the climax. "&

166;Directing actors is fun, too. It's good to get those different ideas. Sometimes it's a challenge to convince them to try it my way, but sometimes they're right and I'm wrong," said McKernan. "Of course, I also always try and keep the audience in mind. I'm making the film for them, not myself."

One might expect that here McKernan is speaking merely of directing his middle school chums, which he does, but McKernan has also directed professional actors, including former OSF actor Jason Esquerra. "He took on a very adult role," said Esquerra, speaking of being directed by McKernan in the upcoming short 'Spartain,' "(He) was really immersed in it and that was really cool to watch &

someone so young take such a role. "&

166;He's one of those people that one day will be just whatever he wants, and that's very exciting to see."

The project in question, "Spartain" is comedic fantasy involving a dweebish loser, played by Esquerra, finding dissatisfaction in his life until he stumbles upon a mysterious drug which transforms him, Charles Atlas style, into an alpha male who takes on the day with the strength of ten men, traversing his phobias in "a very Spartan way." Of course, there's a twist and of course there's a moral, imbedded within the punchline of the film.

"It's a massive project," said McKernan, who has relied on local support and local businesses offering their establishments as locations to the young artist. "We'll be submitting the film, and some others, to next year's Ashland Independent Film Festival."

One of McKernan's first films, 'Fire Wood,' serves as an example of his versatility. It deals with a friend's rather existential disappearance in the woods and the surreal factors which facilitate his return. McKernan is happy as he discusses the fun and challenge of dipping into different genres, not unlike his idol, Kubrick, and also notes that "mysterious, spooky films" can also work into the low budget framework amateur filmmakers often encounter.

In addition, the very articulate McKernan is an animator and athlete, competing in track and football. "He doesn't just do things, he excels at them," said Esquerra. "He wins those races, makes those films, gets that 4.0. "&

166;He's an incredible kid."

"Film is really about taking all the different thoughts in my mind and making them into something more real, while working with different actors," said McKernan. "While it's fun, also whatever I do is going to be out there so I keep that in mind. While it's such fun, it's also creating something that people enjoy."

Check out some of McKernan's newer projects at his YouTube channel, "stankcrank" or search "Firewood McKernan" on the site.

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