Both sides of the brain

Agoura High School graduate Sarah Nagy premieres her film

By Matthew Singer 12/13/2007

Sarah Nagy is currently majoring in Business Economics at UCLA. Having graduated from Agoura High School with a four-point-plus grade point average, this much is expected. What might not be, however, is the subject she is considering for a minor: film.

It is this collision of the technical and the creative that forms the thematic foundation of Nagy’s feature-length directorial (and acting) debut, the comedy-drama Corpus Callosum, premiering at the Westlake Village Twin on Dec. 13.

“It really shows two polar opposites of the types of people you encounter in high school,” says Nagy’s former classmate and co-director Bryan Felber. “It’s all about creative people versus technical people.”

Nagy started dabbling in filmmaking just this past year, beginning with a 14-minute short titled Parallel Dreams. “I wasn’t interested in making movies at all, even though I like watching movies,” she says. “I wanted to go out of the class of 2007 without being stereotyped as an average honors student: making good grades, staying home and studying.” She entered the movie in her school’s first student film festival, where it caught the attention of Felber who, though only a junior, already had several years of directorial experience.

“Her style of filmmaking is something that’s immediately appealing to a teenage crowd. I recognized that and jumped on that,” he says. “I could tell her technical expertise was not up to the level of what I could do, but she had good storytelling skills and good comedic timing. I thought if we put the two together — my experience with her innate intelligence — we could create a film.”

As it turned out, Nagy had already written a script for her second project. Born from her interest in economics, Corpus Callosum focuses on Cross Carlton (played by Nagy), a self-made multimillionaire teen with an uncanny knack for playing the stock market. Everyone she knows — from her parents to her therapist — attempt to take advantage of her knowledge, leading her to a life as “a robot pumping out money,” Felber says. An eccentric student journalist, Kyle Hutchinson, is assigned to write a piece on her. Through each other, Carlton realizes the banality of her existence, while Hutchinson sees “how his creativity should be valued even though he doesn’t feel valued by his parents or his editor,” Nagy says.

The film’s premiere in Westlake is intended to promote an upcoming student film festival hosted by Calabasas-based performing arts organization Spotlight the Arts. All proceeds beyond the theater’s rental fee will go toward group’s drive to build a playhouse in Calabasas.

“I heard about it through various sources — from friends and moms of friends,” Nagy says of Spotlight the Arts. “I heard people talking about it and thought it sounded interesting.”

Nagy plans on entering Corpus Callosum in several student film festivals and larger ones as well. As for Ferber, he hopes to continue collaborating with Nagy going, even as he looks toward graduation in 2008. He is presently mulling over the idea of an episodic series of shorts to air before midnight movie screenings at the Westlake Twin. The focus? The life of Sarah Nagy.

“I think Sarah has an instantly comedic personality, the way she talks and the way she presents herself,” Ferber says. “The movie was great, but the movie acted like a practice of working with her.”

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