College student uses Wilton as backdrop for film
When Viktor “Vik” Zoeller was a senior at Wilton High School, he made a film about the tragic story of a self-aware balloon named Harold.
Fast forward five years, and Zoeller has expanded that idea into a film he is making for his senior thesis at the film conservatory at Purchase College.
Titled, “You Can Buy Love at the Dollar Store,” the film is about a self-aware young man named Guy, his mother Susan, and the ups and downs of Guy’s relationship with a red balloon named Harold that he bought at the Dollar Store.
The film’s premise reflects Zoeller’s wry sense of humor. With a balloon as a character (that doesn’t speak), the film also requires some suspended disbelief. “I like making work that is absurd, that can be funny at first glance, but then might make you cry and feel something for the characters,” he told The Bulletin.
Zoeller still lives with his family in Wilton when he is not away at school. He shot many scenes of his 15-minute thesis film in Wilton at the Stonebridge Waterfowl Preserve and in and around his home on King Lane. “I think Stonebridge is the most beautiful park in Wilton. I liked to go there with my friends when I was in high school,” he said.
Zoeller still has more work to do on the film, and has set up a fundraising page on Indigogo.com to get the last $1,200 he needs to finish it.
The funds will be used for transportation for the cast and crew, props and set dressing, batteries, and food for everyone. “Most everyone is working on this film for free, so I just need money for expenses,” Zoeller said.
With Purchase being so close to New York City, Zoeller was able to cast a wide net and attract professional actors for his film. When it is released this summer, Zoeller would like to submit the film to festivals and even bring it to Wilton for a screening.
At Wilton High School, Zoeller grew interested in filmmaking by taking video production classes, and after college would like to pursue a career in filmmaking and editing.
During his senior year in Wilton, Zoeller, born female, started hormone therapy and now publicly identifies as a transgender man. His parents are Bill and Janice Zoeller, and his older sister Jackie is a real estate agent in Norwalk.
“Our parents weren’t helicopter parents. They wouldn’t tell me not to hang out with certain people. They kept an eye out for us but we could do what we wanted to do and we matured quicker. As a result, when I went to college, I was ready to become an adult and take care of myself,” he said.
Zoeller decided to cast a trans actor, Jac Bernhard, as the lead in his film in order to show younger trans people that things get easier. “At this point, it’s important for me to do work about being trans, making work that has to do with it,” he said.
His philosophy is further spelled out on his Indigogo page, which says, “One of my greatest goals as a filmmaker is to create and foster representation for transgender people. While trans stories in media are on the rise, they often are tragedies centered around a character’s unhappiness with their own body and societal pressures. That is why my films rarely make mention of transness, and yet, with trans leads, crew members, and writer/director, they are inherently trans films.”
Zoeller said he would like to expose the residents of Wilton to artwork by a trans person and give them a unique perspective on the diverse identities of the town.
“At Stonebridge, there is a bench on the top of a hill with a lovely quote on it about friendship. I call it the ‘friendship bench’ and it plays an important part in the film. I always thought of Stonebridge as the friendship park. It’s a beautiful place,” he said.
Visit Indigogo.com to contribute to Vik Zoeller’s film.