Independent filmmaker Nate Hapke, a former Wilton resident who now lives in Los Angeles, has always remembered how stressful his move-in day to college was for him. Yet, he only later realized how stressful the big event also was for his mother.
To acknowledge what his mother went through during that period in his life, he has created a film — called “One More.”
“By portraying my mother’s struggle with this, I want to thank her for everything she has been through,” he said in a recent interview.
One More is just one more — no pun intended — film the 27-year-old has created. Despite his young age, he’s quickly making a name for himself in the film industry. His previous seven short films have screened at more than 20 film festivals worldwide and have garnered 11 awards and honors.
Hapke’s most recent film, “Brunch,” was recently screened at the Short Film Corner of Cannes in France. Brunch, which will be made available online by next spring, is an updated take on the importance of not judging a book by its cover.
Hapke is production coordinator and DGA production associate for Disney/ABC’s General Hospital. “I am on the directing team. I assist the directors by assembling scripts, timing shows and communicating notes for the next day’s production,” he said.
Hapke, a 2014 graduate of Syracuse University, won an Emmy for his work on General Hospital, which was named the Outstanding Drama Series winner at the 44th annual Daytime Emmy Awards held April 30 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Two of General Hospital’s young cast members, Lexi Ainsworth and Bryan Craig, won Emmys as well.
“It was an absolute honor to be part of a team. For me personally, it was really the culmination of three years of hard work,” he said.
Hapke’s next film is entitled “Slate.” “Slate is dressed in the circumstance of an actress who is auditioning for a big role and it’s ambiguous at the end whether or not she gets the role. However, we know she will be all right because there is a level of self-love and self-respect that will get her through it,” Hapke said.
In order to film Slate, Hapke headed up a successful Kickstarter drive. “Our goal was $10,000. We got up to $10,636. I have to thank 81 amazing people who pledged their monetary support and the hundreds of people who shared the campaign that felt passionately enough about it to share the link,” he said.
Hapke’s film One More will be made available in the summer of 2018. “This is the film I am the proudest of thus far,” he said. “I took a lot of steps forward as a director with it — both visually and story-wise,” he said.
One More tells of the experience of move-in day to college from two perspectives: the single mother and her only child.
While making his films, Hapke has had the opportunity to work alongside many well-established actors. One of them was Richard Herd, who is best known for starring in the 1983 NBC miniseries V. Herd has also appeared on such TV series as Star Trek: Voyager and Quantum Leap.
Herd said Hapke made a lasting impression on him. “I’ve done 57 films and many series and I worked with a lot of actors and crew members. Nate is a natural brilliant and charming young man,” said Herd, 63, who lives in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
“Nate knows what he wants out of life,” Herd said. “Most young people struggle because they think of what they want to be but don’t take the action to become what they want to be. This is not Nate. He doesn’t just talk about things, he gets them done. He is rock solid determined.”
Herd predicts Hapke will have a very important career in the motion picture industry.
“In a way, Nate has the beginnings of [actor and comedian] Jordan Peele from the comedy series Key & Peele, Herd said.
Hapke fondly recalled his days growing up in his Wilton neighborhood. “I have really great memories of following my brother, Sam, into Scoops Ice Cream & Candy Shop, right next to the Village Market, and picking out candy with him.”
At school, Hapke was often entertaining his classmates. “I’m sure the kids I went to school with remember me as trying to make them laugh. There’s a fantastic drama program through Wilton High School that I attended. It was nice to have that arts community,” he said.
Aside from his school life, Hapke said his family played a large part in shaping who is today. “I had the unique opportunity to grow up next to my mom’s parents.
“I think that experience of being able to get to know them and lose them has really shaped me as a human being and as a storyteller. A lot of my films deal with how loss shapes us as human beings,” he said.
Hapke said that unlike many others in his industry, he doesn’t get caught up in trying to emulate other directors — he just wants to be the best person he can be. “When I moved out here, I wasn’t motivated to be the next Steven Spielberg. I was motivated to be the first Nate Hapke and let that be okay.
“We as human beings spend so much time comparing ourselves to other people. I would love to learn from other filmmakers but at the end of the day, the only success I will find is personal. Me being proud of my work is the most important thing that I can do.”
Hapke’s first post-grad film premiered in the Short Film Corner of Cannes, back in 2015. That film can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/119821692 His films can be seen at https://vimeo.com/user23540757 and his directing reel can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/173194349