“He who learns but does not think, is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.” – Confucius
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Over the past several months, I was lucky enough to be a part of an incredible project: 11:59, a film written, directed, and powered by Mesbah Uddin, a senior at Georgetown and a good friend of mine. The film — created exclusively by undergraduate students — premiered in Lohrfink Auditorium on Saturday night. The story follows a college student going through difficult times, facing academic and personal obstacles while confronting the mental health issues he has tried so hard to will away. I will not tell you any more details, because you will of course see the movie yourself!
Last semester, Mesbah asked me to join the project as a producer, so of course I jumped at the opportunity, knowing absolutely nothing of what my role would entail. As it turns out, blindly saying yes was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The film itself turned out spectacularly, balancing humor and depth and creativity in a fashion so mature most would assume seasoned cinematic veterans helmed the project. More than that though, interacting with the cast and collaborators opened my eyes to a world of passionate, driven people.
Along with Mesbah and his visionary talent, 11:59 involved a bevy of talented individuals. Jack Schmitt and Darnell Bland Jr. led the cast, Bryan McDonnell is a cinematographer of the highest level, Andrew Yan is a graphic design wizard, and I could go on and on. What stands out, upon reflection, is simply the work that goes into creating such a substantial and meaningful piece of art. Each moment on the screen comes from hours of planning, executing, and perfecting. Numerous people must bring their time and skillsets together to create a memorable scene, let alone a full-length feature film. Watching the film after witnessing so much time and effort go into it left me speechless. Chaotic, disjointed, hilarious moments with my coworkers turned into something extraordinary, heightened by my knowledge of just how hard they worked to reach this point.
I am not saying all of this simply to entice you into seeing 11:59 when it becomes available, though of course you should. I write this because working on the movie has been the type of experience promised to and desired by us as Georgetown students. Without being too melodramatic, I think of the ideals that drive Georgetown as a Jesuit institution. As Hoyas, we represent an institution that strives for excellence, achieved by committing oneself to bettering the world through activities and groups that ignite our passions and stimulate our minds.
These experiences can come in all sorts of forms, and they can come in the classroom, on campus, and beyond. At first glance, one would probably not view a student film as a “Jesuit experience.” But I can assure you that working with people who are so passionate — so driven to tell impactful, relatable stories — is inspiring; their spirit is infectious and unavoidable. Of course, making movies will not be the thing that sets every single person’s heart on fire, but finding motivated and passionate people most certainly will. I came to Georgetown somewhat timid, happy in my groups and clubs but unwilling to branch out.
Stepping out of my comfort zone still terrifies me from time to time, but it can be endlessly rewarding. I hope everyone has the chance to find opportunities like the one I have been so lucky to enjoy this semester. Finding what you love to do is a challenge we all face in preparing for the horrors of the real world. Finding others who love what they do is a good place to start.
Photo: The Georgetown Voice