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The Northwood Howler

The Student News Site of Northwood High School

The Northwood Howler

“Iris”: Capturing change and friendship on film

Ashley Wang
FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS ON AND OFF CAMERA: Director Coco Wu (Northwood Class of 2023) and location manager Nicole Toshima (Northwood Class of 2023) work together during a production meeting to search for locations to film a cabin scene

Although the bittersweet reality of growing up and graduating may not have kicked in yet, this summer is a season of transitions and new beginnings, a sentiment that the crew behind the short film “Iris” aims to capture. 

“Iris” is the newest project from Northwood alumna and director Coco Wu, produced by seniors Joy Bae and Ariadni Barceló. The film follows protagonists Iris and Dessa as they set forth on a summer road trip and are forced to face tensions in their friendship that have arised post high school graduation. Wu’s stylistic choice of portraying their journey through one of the girls’ camcorders, along with a sci-fi twist on the passage of time, offers a new take on the age-old phenomenon of drifting apart.

“It is a very personal story, especially with moving away to college and making new friends,” Wu said. “It is something I have actually struggled with, seeing all my friends branch out and do new things, but we’re moving on to a different chapter of our lives.”

To raise awareness about how society pushes girls to see each other as competition, Wu conceptualized “Iris” after a conversation with her female friends about the nuances of socializing with other women.  

“We realized that we were only able to form connections by fully trusting each other and allowing ourselves to be genuinely happy when something good happened to a friend,” Wu said. 

Wu, who found her passion for film through her role as co-show producer of NTV, is dedicating the summer after her freshman year at New York University to this project. Though her protagonists have drifted apart after their high school days, she has never been closer with her fellow alumni from the Film Ed Academy, the program that NTV is a part of.

The “Iris” production environment is reminiscent of dynamics from NTV, elevated to a professional setting. Other Northwood Class of 2023 alumni on the team include assistant director Janna Elshahawi, director of photography Andrew Lee and marketing manager Ayushi Das.

“Even though we all are friends, there’s a different professional side to explore, and it’s fun seeing everyone’s creativity and what they bring to the table,” Barceló said. “Every project you do, you take something from the last one, so every single time we get better and get to know each other better.”

Bae and Barceló play crucial roles in the creative process, working with Wu to revise numerous drafts that each bring Iris and Dessa a step closer to life. Throughout the filmmaking process, crew members are valued for their unique perspectives and experiences, inspiring the way characters are dressed to the way they are photographed.

“With the different perspectives like production design and costume design going in, everyone’s story is in it,” Bae said. “It’s not just a one-man film. It’s really a women’s film.”

The project’s community ties go beyond just its crew members. During their all-or-nothing kickstarter, the “Iris” team encouraged donors with exclusive behind-the-scenes content, plus a fundraiser at 7 Leaves Cafe on May 10. 

Despite the challenges of a limited budget and the need for unique equipment to shoot scenes set on the road, the team plans to use these funds to bring their film to life as they move toward shooting.

“You really need to have trust in your crew, and working with people I know I trust is really stress relieving,” Wu said. “Even if something were to go wrong, I know I can count on so many people to adapt to the changes.”

As members of the crew reach their own graduations and other important milestones, the events and experiences of Iris and Dessa continue to resonate on a personal level. By choosing to trust each other, the crew’s message of enduring connections is embedded not only in film, but is the glue that keeps the film together.

“Portraying this at our age is so relevant to who we are at the moment,” Bae said. “It’s something that only kids at this age can portray to the fullest degree.”

Students can still support the film by following @iristhefilm on Instagram, where all updates will be posted.

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About the Contributors
Alyssa Quintana
Alyssa Quintana, Staff Writer
Alyssa Quintana is The Howler's social media manager and a staff writer. She owes her life to the magic of her clamshell necklace and the needle drops in the 2005 masterpiece "Ice Princess." And Canva templates too, I guess.
Ashley Wang
Ashley Wang, Photographer
Ashley Wang is a photographer for The Howler. They enjoy poetry and watching Luca Guadagnino films at midnight. They have blue hair and pronouns.

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