This story first appeared in the Fall 2023 Edition of the Pal-Mac Pulse. To view an electronic copy of the magazine, click here.
SEPT.11, 2023—2021 Pal-Mac grad Luke Medina grew up creating characters in his head, and now he’s sharing them with the world.
He’s nearly finished with the production of his debut feature-length film, Renner. The artificial intelligence-inspired sci-fi thriller stars Frankie Muniz, Taylor Green, and Violett Beane.
“What if Chat GPT or Open AI went rogue and started making its own predictions based on its conclusions? Medina said. “That’s something I don’t think I’ve ever seen dived into, but I see it’s possible.”
At the time of our interview, Medina described the production as being in the “final stages.”
Medina said he initially got the idea for Renner back when he was a sophomore at Pal-Mac High School. The story was part of an English unit and featured just a few pages. The original story had more to do with the concept of obsession, not so much about A.I.
Medina thought the story could make a compelling film because of its unique premise and its “contained” character list.
“It’s just grown and evolved,” Medina said.
“THE PERFECT PARTNERSHIP”
Luke and Marty on set (Provided)
Medina says turning this growth and evolution into a Hollywood movie would not have been possible without the help of his father, Martin.
According to Martin, Luke’s always handled the creative side, while he’s leaned more on the business side. Martin’s also credited as a writer on Renner.
“There’s a lot of things a parent can wish for their kid, and one of them is that they have an opportunity to pursue a passion of theirs,” Martin said. “So, watching him have an opportunity to pursue his passion is a wonderful thing.”
Described by Luke as the “perfect relationship,” the father and son duo first worked together on a short film "Amerita", which was released in 2020.
The film was shot in Rochester and featured high school theater director Kim Day.
Much like Renner, Amerita was born out of Luke’s creative mind.
“Luke has his vision and I have this vision of moving forward, and it’s all part of our greater vision,” Martin said. “For whatever reason, our partnership can make these things happen.”
Luke's Senior year picture (Zenobia 2021)
Whether he was playing with toys or with his friends in the woods, Luke always had a back story and some supporting characters.
While he says his early stories probably didn’t match up with the ones he creates today, storytelling and creativity have always been at his core.
Luke says it was his time as a part of the District’s musical theater program which gave him more confidence in his creative skills.
He had several productions to his credit, including the Spring musical “Fame his senior year. The production was pre-recorded due to COVID restrictions. Luke served as the assistant to the cinematographer.
He was also a member of Pal-Mac’s Select Choir.
For his efforts, Luke was co-nominated as “Most Creative” by his classmates during his senior year.
“It was fantastic, just the people in the community,” Luke said. “Just the way it fostered, creativity and imagination and the way it inspired me to continue beyond high school and pursue things.”
As a parent, Martin echoed Luke’s opinion but added the community’s efforts go beyond just what happens at the school.
Luke was a freshman in high school when he underwent a heart transplant, Martin says the Pal-Mac community stepped up to make accommodations for Luke to get his school work done from home.
“Everybody was super supportive from a parent perspective,” Martin said.
FINISH THE PROCESS
Luke reviews a script on set (provided)
In reflecting on this journey so far, Luke says he’s learned a lot of valuable lessons. But perhaps the most important takeaway is that he got to where he is in part because he followed through on his projects.
“If you wanna be a writer, and you want to write stories, just finish,” Luke said. “It’s the biggest part for me, I have so many unfinished things that I wanted to write.”
He noted the one big project he chose to follow through on was Renner. Martin added he’s fallen in love with the creative process by navigating this journey with his son.
As for what’s next, Luke says he and his father are working on “a couple of projects.” Their goal is to work on at least three projects at a time.
While they feel accomplished to this point, the duo added “They’re just getting started.”
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