The Barrington native and current Philadelphia, Pa. resident recently helped create his first feature-length film. It’s titled “Driving Not Knowing,” and represents more than a year of writing, planning, directing, editing and acting.
Mr. Mainella and the team of producers from the film are now trying to raise money for post-production costs — sound design, color correction, entry fees for film festivals.
They have established a page on Kickstarter.com, listed a goal of $21,170, and with about a week left for fund-raising have surpassed the $11,000 mark.
“By far” this was “the most challenging experience of my life,” wrote Mr. Mainella in a recent email. “But I would also say it has been the most rewarding experience as well and the project I am most proud of. I don’t think I realized how much work it takes to make (write, produce, edit, promote, etc.) a feature film.”
Filmmaking, for Mr. Mainella, started inside a nearly empty theater at Patriot Cinemas in East Providence about seven years ago.
When he was about 15 years old, Mr. Mainella would ask his parents to drop him off at the cinemas to watch movies that he knew his friends would not want to see.
One day he sat in the darkened theater — he was the only person there — and watched “There Will Be Blood.”
The film featured Daniel Day-Lewis as a ruthless oilman and his quest for wealth, and was nominated for eight Academy Awards. And from its very beginning, it stunned young Dane Mainella.
“…there’s something like 20 minutes of silence before a single word is spoken. I was blown away. I couldn’t believe a movie with such a simple premise could say so much through its acting and cinematography. It wasn’t what the movie was about as much as how they chose to go about making it. It made me think, ‘Man, I could do something like that.’
“‘There Will Be Blood’ really changed things for me and made me think about film in a seriously creative, more artistic, way.”
What had been a fun interest early on began to grow for Mr. Mainella, and by the time he was a senior at Barrington High School he decided to focus his senior project on filmmaking.He recruited Jon Land — a novelist and screenwriter and former Barrington resident — to work as his mentor and began writing a script for his project.
“Before that I had written many short stories and a good deal of juvenile poetry in notebooks. But the way I think is strongly visual, so I kind of naturally gravitated towards writing/performing for the screen,” he wrote.
After graduating, Mr. Mainella attended the University of Pennsylvania as an engineering major — “after about two years of it I began to feel like it was stifling my creativity. I had a very idealistic view of engineering four years ago, like I wanted to be this eco-engine designer or rocket scientist. I guess I got disillusioned with the idea of using my creativity for progressing humanity towards some kind of technological endpoint.”
He longed for an avenue to express himself and found it in creative writing. At the same time, friendships he had made at UPenn blossomed into working relationships, and last year Mr. Mainella, Benjamin Davis, Dylan Hansen-Fliedner and Jay Jadick began work on “Driving Not Knowing.”
“I think the story captures the struggles I’ve faced in trying to have control over my creativity,” wrote Mr. Mainella. “For awhile I think I was being dishonest with myself and others in directing that creative energy towards more destructive things, like partying or getting into stupid fights with friends. Meaningless conflicts. The characters in ‘Driving Not Knowing’ really tiptoe/blur the line between living productive and destructive lifestyles.”
Mr. Mainella said he is hopeful that “Driving” will hit its kickstarter goal. From there, the film will undergo some post-production tuning and be entered in film festivals.
“The festivals we’re aiming to premiere at are the American-based Sundance and South by Southwest, and Euro-based Berlin and Rotterdam. From there, we’re hoping to get notice by exhibition and distribution companies that would show the movie at theaters across the country,” he wrote.
Mr. Mainella has also started early work on a second feature film.
“In March, on a roadtrip across the country, myself and two other collaborators shot principal photography for another feature that I had been writing since the fall. We shot in Kansas, Denver, Utah, Las Vegas, LA, San Francisco, all over. It was quite the trip,” he wrote. “While I don’t want to give away too much about it, we’re expecting to continue work on it after we submit ‘Driving Not Knowing’ to festivals.”
Creating a feature film was a new endeavor for Dane Mainella, but the Barrington native has long been dabbling in video production. He said former BHS classmates, including Nick Rojas, Mo Diaz, Ray King, Ryan Butler, Dan Maddock and Ed Mercer, were involved in many of the projects.
“Throughout high school, a group of friends and I made a handful of short, kinda parodic video projects based on some Hollywood movies that we were infatuated with, like ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Ocean’s Eleven.’ We even made one called ‘Battle for the Brickyard’ about a war set on Brickyard Pond,” Mr. Mainella wrote.
Support the film
The team that created “Driving Not Knowing” is looking for a little help in covering post-production costs. They have established a page on Kickstarter.com where people can donate. For more information go to www.kickstarter.com and search for Driving Not Knowing.
More about the film
Want to know what “Driving Not Knowing” is all about? Here is a brief description offered at the kickstarter.com website:
“Dane Mainella and Jay Jadick play artists, Will and Lee, at odds yet addicted to each other. Lee, a drug-addled yet sensitive musician, is in love with Will, an ambitious poet. Violent and intense, Will is hesitant to make himself vulnerable to Lee’s affection. After a year-long estrangement that arose from their disharmonious intentions for one another, the two reunite for a weekend in the countryside.”
Want to see the trailer?
Go to kickstarter.com, search “driving not knowing” and scroll down to the second window.