GSB Alumni Share Reflections on Film, Storytelling, and the Power of Looking Beyond the Surface

Alumni Adam Aresty '03 and Lamont Stapleton '06 came together to discuss the short film project Laws of the Universe. The film tells the story of a prisoner who will do anything to survive when he is trapped in his cell after an alien spacecraft appears in Los Angeles. More than 20 guests, including faculty and parents, joined the conversation. The conversation was off to a great start with guests introducing themselves with their favorite films.

Adam explained the project was based on a short story available on his website, adamaresty.com. The passion project was shot with the hopes of being a preview to a larger venture. Adam shared photos from the construction of the set and different filmmaking aspects. Listeners also engaged in questions and answers pertaining to the thought process behind such a provocative film. Although the film was shot two years ago, Laws of the Universe found a home on the YouTube sci-fi channel Dust earlier this year. When asked about lasting impressions he hoped viewers would take from the film Adam shared, "I believe science fiction allows you to explore messaging beneath the surface of what you see directly in front of you. My goal for the project is to help humanize marginalized people."

Lamont Stapleton enjoyed Laws of the Universe and the two laughed as they reflected on Lamont being one the original subjects from Adam's early filmmaker aspirations. Lamont is the co-founder of Between the Lines, a prison basketball program aimed at rehabilitation and combating recidivism. He explained that basketball has always played an important role in his life, opening the doors to many opportunities over the years, including his entry to GSB. "My passion has always been celebrating individuality and accepting the differences that make us all unique. However, Between the Lines helps inmates prepare for life after their sentence is served. Most people don't realize 9 out of 10 prisoners will be released one day. It's important to me that when people think of those who are incarcerated, they look beyond the surface. No matter what circumstances a person may face, every life has purpose," Lamont shared with the group.

While their work may be different, the two connected on the idea of humanizing marginalized people and the power of looking beyond the surface. In the current political and social climate their work has taken on a heightened sense of awareness, and they both felt it was necessary to bring people together to explore these issues.

The conversation continued on October 21, as Adam virtually joined GSB students for the course Politics of Identity: Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality. The conversation began with a deep dive into Laws of the Universe, and it expanded to discuss representation in filmmaking. Students explored the importance of relatability and getting past cliches of one-dimensional characters. Adam challenged students to think about how films reflect authentic stories and where classic films may fall short. While he admits there is no simple solution to the concerns surrounding representation, we must all start from a place of empathy and a willingness to explore that which makes us uncomfortable, saying, "Growth is often on the other side of discomfort."

While the two friends currently live on different coasts, it's the bond from their days at GSB that keeps them connected.

Alumni Notes

Adam Aresty graduated from GSB in 2003, moving out to the west coast to attend the University of Southern California Film School. Adam's love of film started at a young age with his love for the classic film Jaws, and many will tell you Adam was known for roaming campus with his camera. Adam is primarily focused in the sci-fi and thriller category. Adam is now an author, screen writer, producer, and faculty member at Fordham University.

Lamont Tory Stapleton is a 2006 GSB graduate and member of the Athletic Hall of Fame. He is also a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University. He is known for his work as a lifestyle consultant and community activist based out of Los Angeles. He is the co-founder of Between the Lines, a prison basketball program aimed at rehabilitation and combating recidivism. Lamont recently organized friends to participate in a Bike Rides for Black Lives. From this, a moment turned into a movement gathering hundreds across the country in LA, Oakland, NY, and DC.