Constable: Self-made filmmaker from Lisle finds his way to make a full-length movie

  • With a poster from one of his early short films adorning the wall of his bedroom in Lisle, writer and director Zachary Trussell, 26, works on a script for his next film.

      With a poster from one of his early short films adorning the wall of his bedroom in Lisle, writer and director Zachary Trussell, 26, works on a script for his next film. Burt Constable | Staff Photographer

  • Inspired by a night out with his friends, 26-year-old Zachary Trussell of Lisle has written and directed his first feature film.

    Inspired by a night out with his friends, 26-year-old Zachary Trussell of Lisle has written and directed his first feature film. Courtesy of James Spencer

  • Lisle writer and director Zachary Trussell found actors from local colleges to star in his first feature film called "That Night."

    Lisle writer and director Zachary Trussell found actors from local colleges to star in his first feature film called "That Night." Courtesy of James Spencer

  • Zachary Trussell of Lisle never went to film school and doesn't know how to operate a camera, but he's written and directed a feature film that has gotten into several film festivals.

    Zachary Trussell of Lisle never went to film school and doesn't know how to operate a camera, but he's written and directed a feature film that has gotten into several film festivals. Courtesy of James Spencer

 
 
Posted4/26/2022 5:10 AM

As a kid playing basketball and football at Lisle High School, Zachary Trussell didn't have all the ingredients to feed his passion for film.

"My mom loves movies, so I watched them all the time. But I didn't even know film school existed," Trussell says. "If you gave me a camera right now, I wouldn't know how to turn it on."

 

That hasn't stopped the 26-year-old Lisle resident from writing and directing a full-length feature film, which premieres Saturday in an event that benefits SkyART.org, a charity providing art programs for needy children. The self-made filmmaker didn't follow the traditional path.

"I don't have a lot patience," says Trussell. A 2014 graduate of Lisle High School, he got an associate degree from Glendale Community College in Arizona, where he went to play football and basketball, and carved out his own education in film after writing his first script in 2015.

"I shot my first short film, and I knew this is what I was meant to do," Trussell says. Trying to immerse himself in different film genres, Trussell's short films included a mystery, a comedy, a romantic thriller, a sci-fi piece and a psychological thriller. "They were like my film school," he says.

He formed Broken Bulb Productions with business partners Daniel Grant and Griffin Huba, and dreamed of creating a full-length feature film. The inspiration for that film came on a December night a few years ago when he went out for a fun night with friends and an old girlfriend.

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"There's a movie in here," Trussell remembers thinking. "I got home at 6 a.m. and I wrote 30 pages then and there."

Called "That Night," his romantic comedy centers on a struggling artist's desire to win back the love of his life and advance his career.

"I rely heavily on the people who have the skills I don't," Trussell says, explaining how he found his camera crew, staff and actors by combing film programs at local colleges including the College of DuPage, DePaul University, Columbia College, Robert Morris College, Northwestern University and others.

"Just being relentless, I attracted a lot of people with my passion," Trussell says. He found casting directors Tatiana Goodman and Alejandra Mena, who found leads Julio Alexander, Julie Gester and others. DePaul graduate Melissa Pratt served as director of photography, and longtime suburban resident Kevin Seeman edited the film.

The diverse crew came about naturally, says Trussell, the son of chef William Trussell, who recently opened Boss Dawgz hot-dog restaurant in Lisle, and Stephanie Trussell, a former conservative radio talk show host and currently a lieutenant governor candidate in the Republican gubernatorial primary with state Sen. Darren Bailey.

"I just think that's part of growing up in today's age. If everyone's the same, you are going to miss something," Trussell says. Making a living as a salesman at McGrath Arlington Kia in Palatine, Trussell says he's writing more movies, even as he plans to attend film festivals with "That Night."

"I don't know how you get more independent filmmaker than me," Trussell says. "I've got other movies I want to make. I'm going to go to festivals with scripts."

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