NEW CANAAN — When Jackson Oehmler first saw the Steven Spielberg classic “Jurassic Park” at age 7, he was convinced the dinosaurs were real.

“I remember watching the Tyrannosaurus rex scene and I was so young and I thought that they must be real, they were too realistic,” Oehmler said. “I thought, I could try to do that.”

Ever since, he has pursued his passion behind the camera through internships and personal projects.

For the past three years, the 16-year-old and rising senior at New Canaan High School has been working on his first feature-length film, “Real.” The idea for the film first came to Oehmler when working on a school project regarding mental health and after seeing the movie “A Beautiful Mind.”

“I decided that it was something that I wanted to help people with. I saw how people (with schizophrenia) were being portrayed in the media sort of as monsters and there was a general misconception about it, so I decided to take what I love — film — and see how I could change that,” Oehmler said.

Jennifer Sinski, a film and photography teacher at New Canaan High School, has overseen Oehmler’s growth from his freshman to junior year. She will also have Oehmler in her advanced filmmaking class for his senior year.

More Information

To see Oehmler’s YouTube profile, visit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChq2NyKIBnzCXcOZgD46S8A

To see the trailer for “Real”, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EC8NhpvVD0

When asked about his progress throughout high school, Sinski said Oehmler had polished his skills and picked up many along the way.

“He’s taken his skills to a more professional level and everything he does is very smoothed out,” Sinski said. “For every detail, he makes sure to look over, and he spends a lot of time with post-production and editing. He’s also using more advanced equipment which is also a big change.”

Filming for “Real” took place during August of last year and in several locations like Waveny Park, the town of Northport, N.Y., and even Bermuda. Eight actors and a dog took part in the film.

“I had a small, little budget so I couldn’t afford to pay the actors much. They were really generous with their time,” Oehmler said. “Every day we were up at 5 a.m. and I would be in bed by 11 p.m. It was hard.”

The self-described perfectionist said he is in the editing process and plans to finish his project by the end of summer.

“At first, it was organizing a lot of the clips and then I had to see what I needed to re-film, going over audio. Now it’s about seeing the little mistakes and making sure everything like the tone and pacing stays constant,” Oehmler said.

Oehmler’s next goal is to get into film school, his top three choices being the University of Southern California, New York University Tisch School and Loyola Marymount University.

Wherever he goes, Sinski emphasized that Oehmler’s work ethic and attention to every detail, frame and color would take him far.

“He’s one of the hardest working students and I’d say to keep an eye out for him — we might be watching his movies someday,” Sinski said.

humberto.juarez@hearst

mediact.com