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Gabe Simon

From Film Club to Filmapalooza: GCC Alumnus Making Name for Himself

Eighteen years after “Jurassic Park” captured his imagination, Gabe Simon finds filmmaking to be the only way he wants to spend his spare time. Now 26, Simon has utilized the skills he developed in Film Club at GCC many times since he graduated with his Communications/Media Arts degree in 2009. He drew upon them heavily when he got involved with The 48 Hour Film Project in Buffalo in August 2014. Gabe and his team ended up winning several awards including Best Film for “Silenced.” The film now competes for the International Best Film award at The 48 Hour Film Project’s Filmapalooza in Los Angeles February 26-March 1, 2015.

Gabe Simon (left) with actor Chris Barbis
Gabe Simon (L) directs actor Chris Barbis in the short film “Siren” which can be seen on YouTube

“Movies are such a great combination of all the art forms I love,” Gabe said. “I enjoy acting, music, photography and film is a perfect combination of all those things.” For Gabe, the son of GCC Orleans County Campus Centers Associate Dean Jim Simon, it all started with Jurassic Park. “That was the movie that planted the seed. I had to know how it was done, because I was convinced those were real dinosaurs.”

Gabe made his first movie at GCC. “Take the Shot” was written by a fellow student and Film Club member and chronicled the story of high school athletes who got mixed up with drugs. “One of the big things I learned was how to create montages,” Gabe said of his time at GCC. “I’ve always had at least one montage in each of my movies where the music takes hold of the scene, controls the editing and the pace and it all becomes very musically driven.” He credits Film Club advisor Barry Chow with providing a lot of guidance. “He really opened up my mind to how the process works and I still use a lot of that stuff.”

It came in very handy when Gabe’s team for The 48 Hour Film Project , NooN Estudio, was assigned to make a silent film. “We had a lot of ideas that we were throwing around as possibilities but when we got silent we had to go back to the drawing board,” he said.

The Film Project is a 48-hour wild weekend adventure that begins Friday nights when teams are assigned a genre, a character, a prop, and a line of dialogue that all must be included in a 7-minute film. They have to submit a completed work 48 hours later.

“When you hear silent film, you think Charlie Chaplin, slapstick comedy,” Gabe said. “We decided to do something serious that had emotional impact. We spent Friday night writing, Saturday all day planning and setting things up, getting our props, then we shot everything overnight Saturday. It was crazy. Very draining. We got about three hours sleep total.”

Gabe handled the camera work, which won Best Cinematography. He and Alaa Noweihed share the Best Directing award. The whole crew of six plans to attend Filmapalooza in Los Angeles. “I’m very excited. I can’t wait to see how far the movie goes,” Gabe said. You can watch the film on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PACqCOgLDBo.

Gabe earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Media Production from Buffalo State. He currently works as a Media Support Specialist at St. John Fisher College’s Office of Information Technology Media Center.