Lights, Camera, Action!

A 16-year-old filmmaker shoots his first full-length feature around the Valley

What once started as a hobby using handicams for Jack Fessenden has now transformed into full-fledged film-making—and that’s pretty remarkable, considering he is only 16 years old. The teen recently wrote, produced, and scored his first feature-length film, Stray Bullets, which premiered at the Oldenburg Film Festival in Germany and will be screened at the Woodstock Film Festival later this month. 

Starring James Le Gros (Point Break) and John Speredakos (Fantastic Four), the film tells the tale of two teenage boys (Fessenden is one of them) who discover three wanted criminals taking refuge in a mobile home they have been tasked to clean out.

Fessenden has creativity in his blood; his father is the well-known horror filmmaker Larry Fessenden (Habit, The Last Winter) and his mother is a stop-motion animator. The idea for Stray Bullets lived inside Fessenden’s mind for quite some time, but he says he put off writing for a few years. “I referred to it as my ‘epic’ because I knew it would transcend all of my previous works and have a sense of scale which they lacked, but I waited to start writing until I felt I had the chops to do it justice.”

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Last summer, Fessenden and crew shot the feature over 16 days around the Hudson Valley, including the Palisades Parkway, Woodstock Hardware, and Fabulous Furniture. But once those two weeks of shooting wrapped up, Fessenden had to do what all other ordinary kids his age do: go back to school.

Balancing his assignments and filmmaking wasn’t an easy task, but Fessenden says he’s heading into his junior year focused. “I’m going to pay school more respect and give it the time and attention it needs, but I definitely have a long-term film project in mind. It’s not what you’d expect, but I don’t want to give anything else away.”


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