Germantown Academy alumni Gordon and Mandy Freas were named grand prize winners of Sony PlayStation’s “Emerging Filmmakers Program” in which they sold their concept for “Hyperreal.” Over the last few years, the Freas siblings have created original content for Amazon Prime, Spotify, Wired and Billboard.

by Thomas McGlinchey

The talented brother and sister duo of Gordon and Mandy Freas, who both graduated from Germantown Academy in 2011 and 2009, respectively, make up the team at Clementine Pictures. Now based in Conshohocken, they were named to Sony’s list of the “Top 10 Emerging Filmmakers of 2018” and were also the grand prize winners of Sony PlayStation’s “Emerging Filmmakers Program” in which they sold their concept for “Hyperreal.” The pilot episode of “Hyperreal” will be available to watch on PlayStation Vue later this year. Over the last few years, the Freas siblings have created original content for Amazon Prime, Spotify, Wired and Billboard. Our staff recently caught up with Gordon and Mandy for an interview.

• Congratulations! How did this all come came about?

Gordon: The concept started as an idea for a short film that I had in college, which later grew into an idea for a series. This was a few years before big sci-fi shows like “Westworld” were on TV. And for a while that’s all it was. We resurrected the idea when we learned Sony was looking for pitches and developed a more detailed treatment.

Mandy: “Hyperreal” is an original sci-fi that follows the lives of the researchers and test subjects of the world’s first seamless virtual reality engine. I don’t want to give any more away!

• When you sell a concept, does that mean you also wrote and sold a script? A full script for an entire series?

Gordon: Unfortunately, we can’t talk about the details of the agreement, but I can say that there is a plan in place for a full series of television and ideas for a second. Whether the series will ever come into being all depends how the pilot performs, which is pretty standard when it comes to television. I wrote the script for the pilot, and Amanda worked as a producer and production manager on the shoot.

• What was the experience like of pitching your concept?

Mandy: We flew to LA to pitch our concept to Sony last September. Sony’s creative heads were in the audience, as well as a few industry experts who were there to lend their opinion of the pitches. For our actual pitch, we were on a stage speaking to the panel. It is always a nerve-wracking experience, but it is also a fantastic one. We were excited and humbled to have been asked to share our concept.

• Now that you’ve made the pilot episode, what is the next step in the process?

Mandy: Our pilot will be available to watch on PlayStation’s platforms later this year. We are excited to be able to share “Hyperreal.” We’ve been working on it for a long time, and showing your work to audiences is always the best part. I’m sure viewers will have a lot of thoughts and feedback for the series, and we can’t wait to share!

• What other projects have you worked on or are you working on?

Mandy: Gordon and I run our own production company together called Clementine Pictures. Under that, we have produced work for various clients, including the series “Mixtape” for Billboard. Gordon was the writer/director, and I produced it. In fact, that is usually how we split the work on the projects we do together. I produce, and Gordon writes and directs. Currently, Gordon and I are working on our feature film called “Bluebird Day.” We are in pre-production now, but filming should start soon.

• Is your background more in writing or the technical part of video production/film production?

Mandy: I have a Bachelor of Science in Film and Video Production from Drexel University. While there were some great screenwriting classes as part of the curriculum, I focused on the technical and business aspects of filmmaking. Gordon has the experience in writing.

Gordon: I’ve been writing scripts since I was a freshman at GA. I started writing for Mandy to produce; actually, I think my first real script was for a short film she made (not counting the scripts for our early stop-motion stuff which I literally scratched out in crayon in no discernible format). I did not go to film school but studied theory and criticism in my time at Northeastern University. In college, I began working as a freelance videographer which started a brief stint making online ads. That and all the sketches I filmed over the years formed my education as a director.

• Were you making films together as kids?

Mandy: I think we were 9 and 10 when we made our first film. (Ed. Note: They are 26 and 27 now.) We made a stop motion film with our younger brother’s train set. We had an old Sony camera, and we did all of the editing for the film in camera, meaning we would stop and rewind the film to get the shots we wanted, editing and filming it as we went along. As soon as we were finished, we ran upstairs to show our brother our film.

• What skills do you need to make it in the film/TV business?

Gordon: That’s tough to say because I feel like we’re very much still in the process of “making it,” but the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to take initiative for yourself, to take the lead in your own career instead of waiting for others to give you permission to try something out. That, as well as focusing on relationships. “Networking” is all well and good, but friends are going to be the ones that help you the most.

This article is reprinted, with permission, from the GA alumni “Patriot” magazine.

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