By: Beth Casteel
Jack and Andrew Arehart, junior film majors at Cleveland State University, sat outside one of the film studio’s classrooms as they waited for the interview to begin.
The brothers, who are actually twins, have had quite the busy past couple of weeks. Between balancing schoolwork and working on their film projects, they also had a brief run with the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF), where one of their short films was featured.
For this year’s festival, the Arehart brothers were able to get their film “Ellie the Astronaut” — a short about an astronaut looking back at Earth as she reminisced about a time when she was younger and dreamed of one day exploring space, shown in one of the shorts programs.
In addition to being featured in CIFF 42, the Arehart brothers also have another film, “Wasted Talent” — a short about a homeless 15-year-old struggling to find a balance between normal teen worries and trying to find a place to sleep, that is slated to play at the Manhattan Film Festival later this month.
With two of their most recent shorts being featured in festivals, these projects aren’t the first of the many films the brothers have done to not only get into the Cleveland International Film Festival, but others.
According to the brothers, they have been involved in almost 30 film festivals during their still-blossoming career. The festivals aren’t just in Cleveland either. The brothers have managed to get their shorts seen at a whole slew of film festivals around the world.
As if the idea of being a featured artist in a festival wasn’t enough, the boys have also won roughly 10 different awards since they started premiering their projects in festivals. While they’ve been featured in many festivals, as far as the Cleveland International Film Festival is concerned, the brothers have managed to get their films shown during three different years.
During CIFF 39, they got their short “Jessie” into the festival, and then during CIFF 41, they had their film “Sleeping in the Jungle” featured.
Including their films in the festival was something that became a reality when the brothers were in high school.
During high school, the brothers attended the Medina County Career Center, and while they were there, the school would take students to the festival every year. During that time, the brothers realized that getting their films in the festival wasn’t as far fetched as it once seemed.
“[One year] we went, and we saw that one kid who was also in high school, maybe a year older than us, had a film in the festival,” Jack Arehart said. “We were like ‘oh, lets make our own’ and submit it, and that’s how it got started.”
After the boys realized they could actually get their films shown to the thousands in attendance at film festivals around the world, they got to work creating various films and short projects.
“We always made movies, ever since we were really little. So we’d just take the camera and go in the backyard and film it,” Andrew Arehart said. “We started getting more serious about our movies around 2008, maybe like sixth grade, and we just started getting better at making them. We would go get props, like fake blood and stuff [like that], and put more into it. Then, once we went to the career center, we started to focus more on the story.”
Their childhood interest in creating movies has now turned into a full-time endeavor for the brothers. With a style that’s coming-of-age meets true story, the brothers have tried to find their own style of storytelling while keeping their options open. And, as of right now, the Arehart twins are doing just that.
Their credits include 13 movies, three music videos, a feature length movie, one concert video and no signs of stopping anytime soon. Of course, the brothers aren’t creating this mini, production-house amount of movies by themselves. There’s another face that makes this dynamic duo a trio.
That face is that of their younger brother Matt. The youngest Arehart sibling is a senior in high school who also shares his twin brothers’ passion for filmmaking, so the three combined decided to turn their love of creating film into a three-man filmmaking crew.
“All three of us will usually write the scripts together and then one will man the camera, one will manage the actors and then one will do the audio recording and then we’ll all do the lighting and everything,” Jack Arehart said. “We’re our own crew members. We like to stick together.”
The three brothers are planning on holding that idea of sticking together to heart. As they produce more content together, they have begun to realize just how effective it is to have each other as a source to turn to when creating these projects. As the brothers point out, working with someone familiar is effective when being on a film set. And what better people to work with on a crew than your brothers?
It’s an effective use of time, and they’ve found a way for each person to take a turn in learning and experiencing each position a film crew has to offer. Depending on the task at hand, the three brothers will each switch job duties during the production. So, for example, if Andrew is focusing on the actors, Jack will be setting up the camera while Matt’s on audio, and then the next shoot, they’ll change it up so they aren’t tasked with the same thing as the previous shoot.
This switch-up is even how they edit their videos. Taking turns while editing, the brothers will divide their time so each spends about the same amount of time on the final cut of the project. It’s a collaborative effort between the three brothers, and that partnership they found themselves in also extends to their parents.
While their mom and dad didn’t go to school for filmmaking, they were involved in other creative aspects. Their mother has a keen interest in writing, something that has benefited the boys as they have used some of her short stories and turned them into screenplays. Their father helps them out with the storyboards and even a little bit of acting.
With their parents on board to help them out with whatever their next project is, the boys have been able to turn their future career into a full-fledged family affair.
With the help of their parents and the skills they’re learning in school, the boys are taking this future career in stride, trying to do as much as they can to make a name for themselves.
As for what’s next, the brothers are keeping the doors open for future opportunities. If everything goes as planned, Jack and Andrew will be graduating with their film degree next year with their brother Matt following shortly after.
Until graduation, the brothers do have some projects in the works. Sharing that they plan on adapting two of their short films, “Sleeping in the Jungle” and “Wasted Talent,” the boys also have a few secret projects that they’ll soon get to work on.
While they still have a ways to go, they’re pretty excited to see what the next project will be. Whether that be staying in Cleveland and working with other artists in the area, or getting a call to work on Steven Spielberg’s next big blockbuster, the boys are keeping their options open.
“Our idea is to stay around Cleveland and hopefully get to work on Cleveland film commission jobs while simultaneously making our own stuff, but if we have to go to New York or Los Angeles or anything like that, we’d be open to it,”Andrew Arehart said. “It just depends on if Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg gives us a call. We’re just waiting on the call.”