A pastry chef is pressured to create a new and delicious treat after introducing his famous croissant-cannoli hybrid, the croissoli. His quickly obtained celebrity status and need to live up to his image creates a cloud over the true important factors that life has to offer.
This comedic, yet crucial plot was brought to life in three 12-hour days by Savannah Rice, a 22-year-old Brooklyn College filmmaker, and her dedicated crew.
As a graduating senior under City University’s bachelor program, Rice’s film, “Holy Croissoli,” served as her thesis project and her debut film.
“I’m ecstatic about how it looks,” Rice said about the film after shooting. “Being on set and the atmosphere, I just loved it, I totally loved it.”
Rice moved to New York City in 2013 from Florida, where she attended two years at Broward College. She moved in with two filmmakers while pursuing a finance career and quickly realized that her passion was in film. After working on friends’ projects, such as a mini web series, something clicked.
“I’ve never actually been passionate about something before that,” said Rice. “In Florida, I never even thought of film as a career.”
Moving into the right place at the right time led Rice to start interning at New York Women in Film and Television and eventually attending the bachelor program at Brooklyn College, where she was free to shape her major however she pleased.
After a year at Brooklyn College, where she studied in film classes, and also obtained the Rosen Fellowship, allowing her to make shoes in Argentina for five weeks, it came time to present a thesis idea.
A high resolution picture of a delicate looking croissant, doused in powdered sugar, hugging together a mass of cannoli cream bursting from each side, sits atop a Kickstarter page that urged interested viewers to donate to “Holy Croissoli.”
Rice needed around $8000 to fund the project, and with 119 backers pledging $8,401, she exceeded the goal. From early February to March 4, the pressure was on to finance the film. A slow start to the campaign led Rice and her team to take to social media to advertise and send messages personally from person to person on Facebook urging them to donate, or at the very least, share the page.
“It was a nerve-racking process to be honest,” Rice said in regards to the campaign. “People say it’s a full-time job and it is a full-time job.”
Backers to the campaign were promised croissolli-themed gifts such as the croissoli recipe, a film poster signed by Rice, a baker’s dozen of croissolis delivered to his or her home or a simple thank you note from the team.
Once funding was complete, it was time to take to one of the five shooting locations, Tonnie’s Minis, a small bakery in Inwood. On the corner of a tree-lined block in upper Manhattan, a small orange entranceway led to the birthplace of “Holy Croissoli.” “The bakery was beautiful…a dream to work with,” Rice said. Not only did Tonnie’s Minis allow for the team to set up and film, they offered their location for free.
A learning-by-doing attitude brought Rice to her first directing stage, never having taken a directing class before or having any experience in the position at all. “I was really worried about directing,” Rice said. Random chest pains for Rice a week before shooting culminating in the worst pains on the morning of day one, went away as soon as the work began.
According to Rice, talented actors made the entire experience more comfortable.
“We got incredibly lucky with these actors,” she said. Student actors made up the film staff, working alongside some hired professionals. After a few nervous periods and three long shooting-days, Rice said the crew is impressed with the work.
“Holy Croissoli” has about a month left in the editing process until Rice will try to show it at the Brooklyn College Film Festival this May. She will be leaving Brooklyn College with the artifact of her first experimentation with directing, her debut film, the efforts of a hard-fought financial campaign and the most delicious croissoli that she ever baked up.