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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Suffolk students stun audiences with new short film

Courtesy of Kely Maloney
Promotional poster for the film “Government Cheese.”

“Government Cheese” was the product of a fever dream — or at least that’s how Kely Maloney, a senior film student at Suffolk University, described the film on Instagram upon its release.

Starting as an assignment for Suffolk’s Production III class, it quickly grew into something more and now has gone on to be screened at the Newburyport and New Haven Documentary Film Festivals.

“It’s half true that [a dream] gave me the idea. The actual idea came from one of my teammates on the track team, Shea Duffy,” said Maloney. “Though the talking cheese aspect, that was a dream.”

The film in question is a documentary addressing a large surplus reserve of cheese owned by the federal government during the 1980s, presented in a unique and comedic way by the team Maloney was working with.

The people behind the film are Kely Maloney, Cam Stefek, Pete Sethanant, Alyssa Moses and Sean McCarthy, who all set out intending to make a distinctly nontraditional documentary.

“Cam, one of our group, came up with like a bunch of ideas and very zany ideas,” said Sethanant. “I wanted to do something a bit more challenging and I think Cam was thinking it was a joke or something but he wrote like a whole script about them.”

The film revolves around a series of interviews with talking cheeses narrating the story of government cheese, featuring mostly still shots of different cheese types. Some of these characters, voiced by other Suffolk students, include 19th Century American Colby Jack (Gavin Reid) and 12th Century British Cheddar (Lorda Joseph) with their respective associated accents.

In addition to these shots, the film also features a scene entirely done in the stop motion format where a series of pictures are taken and spliced together to make it look like objects are moving. The scene in question brings the cheeses to life by repurposing audio from a Larry King interview with Frank Sinatra.

“Pete slept overnight in Sawyer to finish the set design for the stop motion, a bit of true dedication to the craft,” said Maloney. 

“6 a.m. I walked out of that building,” added Sethanant.

The whole team was very dedicated to making their vision come to life, all making similar sacrifices to finish the film on deadline and then revising their product to pitch to film festivals as urged by film and communications professors at the university.

Reception at the festivals seemed to be positive, according to Sethanant. 

“[There were] a lot of laughs actually, I was shocked by it. I thought it was gonna be a bit more quiet but actually they were just, like, laughing during the movie,” he said.

It even seemed to hit close to home for some viewers who had been alive during the era. 

“Some lady actually came up to us after, she was a food nutritionist in the 80s. She knew all about government cheese, like had to hand it out to people, and she loved it,” said Maloney.

Maloney and Sethanant seem satisfied with the final result, saying the whole process was “innovative and very intriguing” for the whole group.

“When you meet the right group, and everyone’s just working at their best, it just feels like you’re just kind of in sync with everyone,” said Sethanant.

Maloney agreed that the whole group worked to further his ideas throughout the project, even if they may have seemed a little hard to execute at the beginning.

“It was really weird and I was looking for something really weird at the time,” said Maloney.

Maloney seems to be sticking to a theme of not including human figures in his filmmaking, saying that he “can’t give away too much” about what he’s working on next, “but it’s about dogs.”

“Government Cheese” can be viewed on YouTube. Maloney also made a government cheese-themed playlist, which he listened to for inspiration during the production of the film.

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About the Contributor
Arlo Matthews, Staff Writer | he/him
Arlo is a junior print/web journalism major and advertising minor from East Haddam, Conn. He is heavily invested in all things arts and entertainment, whether it be music, film, art, or related events in the community. Outside of the Journal, Arlo spends his time writing and releasing folk rock music, as well as co-hosting a radio show. His long-term goal is to work his way into an industry where he can continue to use and spread his passion and creativity.

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