From sleepless nights to the silver screen

by Rachel Burt

February 19, 2019

Filmmaker Eric Berman ‘18 is making things happen, one project at a time.

Eric Berman with a camera
Eric Berman '18

When television, radio and film alumnus Eric Berman ‘18 is making movies, he’s on a perpetual high.

“Even when things go terribly wrong, I’m still having the best time,” he says.

For Berman’s senior capstone project last year, he worked on his psychological thriller “Bus Money,” which had its world premiere at the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival (CICFF) last month. The film, an exploration of schizophrenia, won a Golden Fox Award—CICFF’s biggest prize, awarded to films that are “Best of” in their category. Even with the international acclaim, Berman says his favorite “Bus Money” moment was the film’s first screening, in the Joyce Hergenhan auditorium at Newhouse.

“I was so used to viewing it on my computer that it was almost a completely different experience—as if I were watching it for the first time,” Berman says.

Berman wrote the script for “Bus Money” over winter break last year, and then spent about three months in pre-production, three days in production and a month in post-production. He edited, scored and mixed the film himself, which made tremendous demands on his time.

This is in contrast to his second film, “Homemade,” a documentary about the life of a falafel maker in the heart of Jerusalem, which took a total of six weeks to complete. Berman made the film as part of a team participating in the Jerusalem Film Workshop, a fully funded global program that awards 20 filmmakers from around the world the opportunity to create documentaries in Jerusalem.

Berman says his two films have almost nothing in common. While “Bus Money” is dark psychological fiction, “Homemade” is a warm-hearted documentary.

“My team wanted to create something unexpected—something that wasn’t about religious or geopolitical strife,” he says. “Why not make a doc about the best falafel chef in all of Jerusalem?” 

“To put it simply, we wanted ‘Homemade’ to be a warm, appetizing experience that also captures the everyday struggle of running a family business,” Berman says.

“Homemade” had its world premiere last summer at the Jerusalem Film Festival and its U.S. premiere last month at the Miami Jewish Film Festival.

Berman says that while he doesn’t feel a film is ever really finished, he thinks his visions for both “Bus Money” and “Homemade” have been realized, and he looks forward to making more films every chance he gets.

“Right now I’m writing features and working on some projects that I can’t really discuss, just trying to get my leg in the industry and make things happen,” he says. “There really is no other way.”

While Berman’s energy is directed toward new creations, his previous work is still making the rounds. A few weeks ago Berman was told that “Bus Money” had been accepted into IndieFEST and was given an Award of Recognition in the “Disability Issues" category.

“[IndieFEST makes] great efforts to promote emerging talent,” Berman says. “Getting recognition from a program that honors internationally renowned filmmakers—even stars like George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes—is a surreal feeling.”

This was unexpected for Berman, who says it’s an honor to be part of IndieFEST’s official selection.

“My little $800 film is playing with the big boys now,” he says. 

Rachel Burt is a magazine, newspaper and online journalism graduate student at the Newhouse school.