Student Spotlight: Chad Critelli

By: Beth Casteel

Walking out of his 9 a.m. class, senior film and promotional communication major, Chad Critelli, started to make his way to the library where his friend sat exporting clips from their latest project.

The year has been a whirlwind for Critelli. Between balancing his school work and creating his film capstone, he hasn’t had much downtime, yet that doesn’t seem to bother the energetic senior.

Being one of the first students to go in his 411 capstone class, he started the project a bit unsure of what exactly to do, but that didn’t last long. Finding a good crew to work with and a focus of the preparation beforehand, he’s at the point where he’s finally seeing his project coming together.

“I’m going to be done as far as a second rough cut, but I don’t think I’m going to be done with it until summer,” Critelli said. “That’s because of the little things, the ‘hey I can make this better,’ but as an artist you really need to step aside and say ‘I’m done with this, I’m ready for the next project.’ So I’m trying to get done with it as fast as I can so I can move on to the next one.”

While perfectionism is considered to some as a downfall, Critelli doesn’t seem to mind the added time if it makes what he’s doing even better. He has a determination and drive that’s evident the longer you talk to him, a trait that started early on.

Growing up in Lorain, Ohio, a small city roughly 30 minutes from Cleveland,  there wasn’t much for him to do. As Critelli points out that the city doesn’t have the safest reputation, and his family didn’t  have a lot of money. So, his father decided to move the family to Louisville, Kentucky at the tail end of his high school career to get a fresh start.

During his time in Kentucky, Critelli decided to attend college at the University of Louisville, where he originally tried going for a major in biology. The classes he was taking started to become monotonous, and after he sat down to really think about what he wanted to do with his life, he realized he wanted to do something he has loved for a long time.

Critelli realized through his search for a new career path that what he really loved was film. He prefaced his decision of becoming a film major by asking the question “Have you ever sat back and lost yourself inside of a film?”

For most people, the answer would be yes, and that’s just what Critelli loves about the film industry. After realizing that many people have a strong connection with movies in general, he decided he wanted people to have that same reaction to a film he’s made.

So, Critelli decided to move back to Cleveland to pursue his newfound career. When he arrived back, a family friend and mentor of his recommended that he enroll in the film program at Cleveland State, and he hasn’t looked back since.

While he’s doing better now, the initial move did have its challenges. In his freshman year, Critelli was homeless. Sleeping in his car and living on a meager $200 paycheck  every two weeks he had to find ways to support himself and go to school.

He realized that the school actually offered a lot. Using the Rec Center for showers and computers for schoolwork, he was able to utilize the school’s facilities to help him survive. Soon enough, he found Catholic charities, and he credits them for helping him out tremendously.

Receiving a Pell Grant, with the help of the charities, he was able to get a place. For Critelli, having a stable environment is incredibly important and even though he still doesn’t have a computer to do his schoolwork, he doesn’t necessarily look at that as a bad thing.

Being on campus has allowed him to gain connections with students he otherwise would not have talked to. While the networking opportunities are great, there’s another aspect of being on campus that is pretty important to him, and that’s having the access to print off screenplays.

While he’s on campus, he realized he had access to print off screenplays of different movies and read them. Picking apart each little detail, he’s been able to see what works and what doesn’t and it has pushed him to be a better writer. Due to this, he’s realized that he’d like to go into screenwriting in some capacity when he graduates.

“I would like to do the screenwriting aspect, hand it to someone who has already made things, kind of just help them out as a creative person and totally design the whole scene,” Critelli said.

“You can write it, put it together in your head as a scene and then have somebody else control all the other equipment and aspects of it.”

With a specialization in horror, Critelli is always looking for the next big project.As for what’s next, Critelli is focused on creating more content and helping contribute to other people’s work. By doing so, he hopes to one day take his talents to popular streaming services like Netflix.

“My primary goal is to pay people to help me, I want to pay artists to work with me. And then opposite, I want to get paid for my work,” Critelli said. “I want to say ‘hey Netflix, I’ve done this with no budget, nothing, in literally four days’ in time.’ Most films have months to do these, we have like three days. I want to show Netflix that I can do it.”