The Lewisburg brothers launch their own film at the Campus Theater | Applause

LEWISBURG — It’s impossible not to pick up Manny and Jake Rothman’s excitement as they talk about their new movie, and for good reason. It’s not every day that a local film debuts at a local theater.

The Rothman Brothers will premiere their feature debut, ‘Understory’, at 1pm on Sunday at the Campus Theater on Market Street. Free entry.

Manny Rothman, 22, has been making films since the age of 7 and is a recent graduate of Occidental College, Los Angeles. In the fall, he will attend the American Film Institute as an editor. Jake Rothman, 20, will enter his final year at Swarthmore College in Delaware County, studying English literature and film.

During the pandemic restrictions, while the two brothers were studying remotely from home, they found themselves with free time and Jake discovered that he shared Manny’s interest in film production. For a while, men were content to create a number of shorts, but soon they were craving more.

“I said, it feels like we’re treading water here. Let’s rise to the challenge,” Manny said. “It was kind of the first time we said, ‘Let’s go big’.”

About 90 minutes long, “Understory” is the tale of “a young man who hears the voice of his dead friend in the wind and travels through dreams, memories and forests to find him.”

Scary themes, but it’s not necessarily a horror story.

“We’ve been really inspired by movies that don’t adhere to certain genres,” Jake said, noting that themes can range from scary to disturbing, wholesome to friendship. “At times it can get dark and scary and unsettling, but it’s not a horror movie at all.”

While writing the film, Jake said he spent a lot of time outdoors, listening to music and nature.

“I think the idea comes from a place where the world is believed to be full of wonder, mystery and confusion,” he said. “We are just beings, wandering, trying to find our way on this planet. The central idea is that the world is so much bigger than us, and bigger than it looks.

As a producer, Manny enjoys “playing with” the form of a film itself.

“I like the effects of combining genres, styles or aesthetics,” he said. “And then how can you use this latticework of patterns and design elements to edit the story?”

Michael Conard, director of rental at Campus Theatre, said showing the brothers’ film on the big screen is a fantastic opportunity to help introduce audiences to the work of young local filmmakers.

“How does one become more exciting than being able to present his first film in the cinema of his birthplace?” He asked. “They’re very excited to finally have this chance to show people what they’ve been working on.”

“It’s really, really exciting,” Manny said. “Jake and I love the theater in Lewisburg. It’s such a beautiful place. Usually when we make a movie, we put it online. It’s such an unglamorous way to release something that takes so much work.

There’s also a bittersweet aspect to the preview, as after growing up in Lewisburg, the brothers will move on.

“We’re both graduating from college and moving on from Lewisburg for good,” Jake said. “We both realized that this was our goodbye to theater and the beauty of the city.”

The film will be followed by a question and answer session.

Along with Manny and Jake, the “Understory” cast includes Nick Jacobson, Suzie Vo, Veronica Yabloko, James Scott, Anthony Mollica, Zane Irwin, Jake Viscusi, Paige Kaszuba and Laia Comas. Crew members include Comas and Cassidy Cheong.

“It will be exciting to see it on the big screen here at the theater,” Conard said.

Cindy O. Herman lives in Snyder County. Email your comments to [email protected]

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