Creating ‘The Coin Collector’: Q&A with Student Filmmaker Victor Torres

A man pointing while wearing a hat.

Victor Torres ’24 on the set of “The Coin Collector.”

Schieffer College’s nominee for the John V. Roach Honors College 2024 Boller Competition is Victor Torres ’24, Film, Television and Digital Media (FTDM) major. For his senior honors project, he worked with Richard Allen and Chuck LaMendola to produce his short film, “The Coin Collector”. Over two semesters, Torres took part in every aspect of the filmmaking process. We spoke with him about the project, the process and what he learned.

What is “The Coin Collector” about?

“The Coin Collector” follows the story of a handful of people discussing the mystery behind a strange man who wanders around town carrying a giant canister of coins on his back. Everyone has a unique tale about him. Some talk of him as if he’s a ghost. Others argue he’s nothing more than a hermit. Still, some believe him to be a kind of superhero. As the story unfolds, we eventually get to uncover just who the Coin Collector truly is.

What was your inspiration for making this short film?

I’ve always had a fascination with collecting trinkets and knick-knacks. They may seem insignificant, but often, it’s the little things in life that make a world of difference. Without giving too much of the story away, a core theme of “The Coin Collector” is how we perceive the world. Even in something as small as a penny, it’s imperative to always try and see the good in things – at least that’s what The Coin Collector believes in. The Coin Collector himself as a character has been shaped by a number of my favorite childhood shows, including “Hey Arnold, which was a show that always highlighted the depth and humanity of even the strangest people in the world. Finding the deeper meaning behind The Coin Collector’s identity was really important to me when writing the story, and I hope its themes of hope and optimism leave an impact on audiences.

Victoria Woodworth ’24, Victor Torres ’24, Chuck LaMedola and Gabe Macias ’24 on the set of “The Coin Collector.”

You brought this film to life through every aspect of the filmmaking process, from scriptwriting and storyboarding to casting and direction to editing the final product. What was the most challenging part of working on this project? What was the most rewarding?

Pre-production as a whole was easily the most challenging aspect of the project. I was essentially my own producer, which meant I was the one who had to directly communicate with actors, location managers, financial boards, etc. It was really overwhelming at times, but thankfully, I could always rely on the support of my amazing assistant director, Victoria Woodworth ’24, my director of photography, Gabe Macias ’24, and my executive producer, Chuck LaMendola. This hard work is what made filming with our actors some of the most rewarding days on the project. Everything that leads up to filming can feel as if you’re making things up as you go along, but when you finally step on set and the camera starts to roll, at last you can see your movie start to come to life.

What did you learn about filmmaking from working on this short film from start to finish?

I learned that no matter how much you plan, there will always be unexpected problems that present themselves. Whether it’s having to recast actors at the last minute or suddenly having to reorganize your schedules, there will be times where you feel you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. But to be a filmmaker is to be a constant problem solver. Even if it feels like you’re in a no-win scenario, you have to push through, because if you don’t, you’ll never finish your movie. Never give up.

On the set of “The Coin Collector.”

In your honors presentation, you mentioned that the Student Filmmakers Association (SFA) stepped in to help you create this film. What does SFA do? What did they help you do on this project?

SFA is our completely student-run filmmaking organization. Every semester, SFA produces a total of three short films that are entirely written, directed and edited by students. I’ve been a member of SFA since my freshman year and was previously president. SFA is where I’ve gained most of my hands-on skills in filmmaking, putting what we learn in our FTDM courses into practice. In fact, the concept of “The Coin Collector” originally began as an idea for an SFA script, but the project became too large to tackle in one weekend. So, I started re-developing the script for my Departmental Honors Project. As the project became a reality, I reached out to my closest friends in SFA to work on the film. This project is just as much an SFA film as it is an Honors Project, as none of this would have been possible without the support of my friends who were willing to give their valuable time to help out – all while also working on their own separate films. It is the largest film SFA has worked on yet, and I hope it is only the beginning of what the club can achieve in the future.

Watch the premiere of The Coin Collector at 7 p.m. on April 30 in Moudy North 141 .