Alumni Success: Radio/TV/Film Grad Shares How His Debut Short Film Came to Life

Adam Clark smiles for a portrait outdoors.

Although this alumnus’s time at Rowan has come to an end, the effects of what he learned during his time at university follow like a trail, literally! Adam Clark of Bridgeton, NJ (Cumberland County) graduated in 2020 with a degree in Radio, Television, and Film (RTF), which he used to launch his career in the industry.

Adam Clark poses outdoors for a portrait, wearing flannel with his arm resting on a tree.

Adam has had a lot going on since graduation, most notably he sat in both the director and writer’s chair for his debut short film titled “The Trail”. “The Trail” is a thriller short film starring Cayleigh Capaldi and Eli Lynn, which follows the story of a woman frightened and lost in the woods who then comes in contact with a stranger. When asked where the story for The Trail sparked from, Adam shared that he knew he wanted to write a short film and he loves the woods. So combining his drive and his love for nature allowed this dream to come to the screen, and the location made it easy to pull together since no spaces needed to be rented. 

He described the experience of putting this project together to be “amazing and fulfilling but tough. He shared some of the ups and downs he faced behind the scenes, from getting to build relationships with the cast and crew, but the inevitable lows stemmed from the physical demands of having to carry heavy film equipment on their backs as they stretched through the woods.

Adam and three crew members examine a camera in the woods while filming.
A behind-the-scenes look at “The Trail”

Although there were ups and downs behind the scenes, all was worthwhile for Adam when he finally got to see his short film on the screen at a handful of different film festivals, including Whistle to the Maples Horror Film Festival (Lewisburg, PA), Jersey City Horror Film Festival (Jersey City, NJ), Mad Monster Party Film Festival (Concord, NC), Media Fright Fest (Media, PA), Allentown Film Festival (Allentown, PA), and the short film was also recognized as a quarter-finalist by the Sherwood Players International Film Festival (Los Angeles, CA). 

After having his film shown at these five festivals and one private screening Adam enjoyed seeing with his own eyes the audiences’ raw reactions to his own film. He gushed about how this impacted him, “It was an amazing experience to have other people see this film that had been my baby for so long,” and he went on to add, “It was really satisfying to have the experience of going to the festivals.”

Adam and three crew members look through the program at a film festival.
Adam Clark and some “The Trail” team members at a film festival

Now a budding director and writer with so much promise for the future of his film career, Adam has some wise words for film students at Rowan with the same dreams and goals. His advice to current students who want to one day see their work on a screen is, “starting small is the best way to go! We had one location, two actors and a small crew. If it had been really over the top it wouldn’t have had the resources to pull it off, so keep limitations in mind.”

He also went on to add, “Pay attention in screenwriting class.” Bouncing off this Adam shared how the classes he took at Rowan equipped him with the skills and knowledge he needed to create “The Trail.” He nodded back to his time in  Film Production 2, which he says helped him with the process of selecting actors’ organization, and breaking down a script. Along with that he also gave a shout-out to Film Production 1, which he says gave him some of the fundamental skills to write the script for the short film. That class is also where he played around with the concept of silent film for the first couple of times which was an artistic choice he utilized in “The Trail” which has practically no dialogue. He called this course, “a subconscious inspiration for making a simpler film overall.” 

Adam Clark poses for a portrait outdoors, looking casual.

Adam also credits the connections he made through Rowan for making the path to “The Trail” even possible, sharing that more than half of the crew members on the film were Rowan students, which made the experience even more heartwarming. With this being his debut short film the response that “The Trail” has received from film festivals is exceptional and shows that there is so much more to come in Clark’s career in film production; he fully and surely embodies alumni success here at Rowan University.

”The Trail” is now available; visit the film’s website.

The ink drawn movie poster for The Trail, showing a person in the woods with a backpack. It looks creepy.
“The Trail” official poster

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Written by: Asiya Robinson, Senior Writing Arts Major, Creative Writing and Journalism Minor