From dreams to the big screen

AV film teacher Ken Rogers and students raise money to bring Rogers’s original film to life


Ken Rogers

One Summer, an original film written and directed by AV film teacher Ken Rogers, stars Julius Royale Duenas Cruz as the film’s protagonist, Julian. The film was largely based on Rogers’s own life and experiences. “[Rogers] is very determined to stay similar to the script as it was based on his own life,” rising junior and assistant script supervisor Mikaela Washlesky said. “However, he does leave freedom for the actors to do what they feel is comfortable or more natural because he trusts them a lot.”

Lanie Sepehri, co-people and co-print managing editor

AV film teacher Ken Rogers and the AV Club are raising money to fund Rogers’s original film, One Summer. The fundraiser, which closes on Friday, July 8, will help bring One Summer to the big screen by providing the money to pay the various costs of filming, including paying and feeding the actors, location fees, insurance, wardrobe and props.

“I think the most essential thing the money is being raised for is paying and feeding actors and crew,” rising sophomore and second assistant director Max Davis said. “Without that money, Mr. Rogers will end up having to pay for all of that out of his own pocket.”

One Summer, written and directed by Rogers, is a coming-of-age story centered around 17-year-old Julian. In his first summer after graduating high school, Julian must navigate complex romantic relationships and face his identity as a mixed-race Latino and White artist in a culture that “values conformity over authenticity to one’s true feelings and identity,” as the plot synopsis of the fundraiser’s website states. For Rogers, the film is a passion project that has been in the works for years. 

Seeing the process of Rogers’s ideas and script come to life is so fascinating.

— rising junior Mikaela Washlesky

One Summer is a film that I’ve felt I needed to make for a long time,” the director’s statement on the fundraiser website reads. “Over the years, I’ve been writing and rewriting this story, sometimes putting it away for years.”

Rogers’s chance to tell this story has come at long last. In addition to McCallum alumni and former Anderson High School AV teacher Tania Romero, the film’s crew is largely made up of Rogers’s students, like Davis. For rising junior and assistant script supervisor Mikaela Washlesky, working on One Summer is an invaluable experience.

“I’m getting exposed to how a real film set would work with other crew members,” Washlesky said. “This whole experience is also really good for me overall. I’m able to learn quickly from mistakes so that when I’m able to work on a professional set, I’m more prepared for what to expect.”

For Davis, working under Rogers is one of the most special parts of the project.

“[Rogers] really enjoys what he’s doing, so it makes being on set for 12 hours a day go by way quicker,” Davis said. “The way he runs things is really fun and enjoyable for everyone involved.”

Washlesky shares Davis’s sentiment.

Rising junior Mikaela Washlesky stands with script supervisor Tania Romero. For Washlesky, working on the film has provided an incredible learning experience and insight into the process of filmmaking. “The script supervisor I’m working under, Tania Romero, is one of the best people to learn from,” Washlesky said. “She is really helpful and I admire her a lot.” Photo courtesy of Ken Rogers.

“Seeing the process of Rogers’s ideas and script come to life is so fascinating,” Washlesky said. “He’s really funny and very easy to work with. I feel really honored to be able to make the idea that he’s had for so long come true. Just being able to see that happen, step by step, is incredibly exciting.

As of July 5, 77% of the fundraiser’s goal has been met. While the total goal is $19,641, reaching at least 80% of the goal is crucial to the project’s success.

“I think that, especially if you know Mr. Rogers personally and have the means to donate, people should consider donating,” Davis said. “If we don’t reach that 80% mark, we don’t get any of the money pledged and we’ll need to find another way to get funding.”

Donations, for which Rogers and the AV club are immensely grateful, are essential to helping the film come to fruition.

“This entire film is being made with a very, very small budget and for any help, we would be incredibly grateful,” Washlesky said. “We would really appreciate everyone to help any way they can or to watch it and give us their support.”

Filmmaking has become an emotional journey. … My students and former students have come together to help me tell my story just as I have helped them.

— Ken Rogers

Roughly $4,000 are still needed to reach the 80% mark. That money is essential to helping Rogers’s story come to life.

“The stories I tell are based on my experiences dealing with family, love, and racism,” Rogers’s mission statement reads. “Filmmaking has become an emotional journey. The need to tell these stories is immense. My students and former students have come together to help me tell my story just as I have helped them.”

In order to help Rogers tell his story, you can donate to the film at its Seed&Spark page by clicking the link