When film festival acceptances started rolling in for Casey Schoch ’19 and her short film “Dead Weight,” her bosses at film distributor Digital Media Rights took notice. They helped Schoch — who was there for a summer internship — broker a deal with Amazon to stream “Dead Weight.”
But before she signed the contract, Schoch knew she should get professional advice. She decided to seek guidance from faculty members Phil Blackman in the School of Business and Jack Powers in the Park School.
Blackman and Schoch went through the contract line by line, with Blackman providing an explanation for the key terms and what they meant for the film. Powers focused on the financial aspect and the image of the film to make sure the deal was fair.
Fast forward one year into the five-year contract, and she’s starting to make a profit from users watching. “That’s unheard of for a student film,” Schoch says.
At Ithaca, Schoch got involved right away with IC’s media incubator, The Studio. “Not only did I pitch my own ideas for the studio, but I was also able to work on other people's scripts and give critiques,” she says.
“Dead Weight” came to life during the spring semester of Schoch’s sophomore year. The idea for the film, about a heist gone wrong, came from a short poem she’d written for a creative writing class. Schoch also directed, executive produced and edited the film.
“I was super fortunate to know exactly what I wanted to do when I came in freshman year,” Schoch says. “It was because of that that I was able to hit the ground running... When it came time to film, I knew exactly what I had to do.”
With that first film under her belt, Schoch has since made a historical re-creation for a class, focusing on the last day of Virginia Woolf’s life. And she recently finished her senior thesis film — a comedy that follows a couple who stage a faux fight to trick a restaurant into giving them free food.
Then there are her passion projects in progress. The first is a spoken-word piece called “Last Entry,” about a girl who’s dealing with depression.
The second is a psychological thriller she originally conceived as a short in high school that she’s turning into a feature film. As a freshman, Schoch pitched that last project to Dan Heffner ’78, executive producer of the “Saw” movie franchise, when he visited for a “Pitch It to Produce It” event. He liked it, she says, and recommended a few changes. She plans to run the script by him again while studying in Los Angeles this spring.
“I feel like every single thing that's happened with this process has definitely been just super helpful in understanding where to even go after graduating, and what you can do with the work that you do have,” Schoch says.