Student Showbiz: Kristos Puliadi Presents Debut Feature Film

Framed in dramatic lighting director, writer, and star Kristos Puliadi poses for the poster of his debut feature film Thespian.
Framed in dramatic lighting director, writer, and star Kristos Puliadi poses for the poster of his debut feature film ‘Thespian’.
Courtesy of Westwood Theatre

The glitz and glamor of the movie industry are the stuff of dreams for countless people. To be one of the esteemed creators of the films and series that so many hold dear remains just out of reach for the majority, a hazy dream obscured by societal pressure to find a more traditional, sustainable career. But Kristos Puliadi ‘24 is taking steps to make his dream of being in the director’s chair a reality.

On Friday, May 10 Westwood Theater hosted a screening of Thespian, the debut feature film from Puliadi. A psychological thriller following an obsessed student director and the lengths he goes to direct the perfect play, the film is a testament to Puliadi’s years-long passion for cinema.  

“[The] summer after seventh grade, my mom took me to a film camp at UT Austin,” Puliadi said. “And I really, really liked it, [it was] just really fun. And I was glad I found it at that time because it was seven months later [when] COVID started. [So during COVID], all I was doing was making movies.”

The concept of Thespian began to form over a year ago, with Puliadi finding inspiration in Westwood Theater’s senior-directed play festival.  

“At the end of junior year, when the seniors were doing senior-directed, I was like, ‘Oh, I want to do senior-directed next year,’” Puliadi said. “But then I also had hopes of making a movie senior year. And so I was like, ‘Why not combine the two and make a movie about senior-directed?’.”

Puliadi’s idea became a reality as he worked tirelessly on a script in the fall of 2023. By February, he was ready to begin filming. A grueling process, the majority of the movie was filmed at Westwood before classes began for the day. 

“I would wake up at 6:00 a.m. every morning, and I would be [at Westwood] at 7:15 [a.m.],” Puliadi said. “And then we would shoot from 7:45 to 8:45, most of the time in the Black Box but sometimes in the hallways.”

Kneeling to find the perfect angle, cinematographer Emily Rose ’24 and sound operator Alonzo Fowler ’24 capture Kristos Puliadi ’24 making his entrance during one of the film’s segments. (Courtesy of Kristos Puliadi)

Finding locations to shoot wasn’t the only logistic hurdle that Puliadi and his crew had to overcome. The scope of a feature film means working around the schedules of the large cast and crew. 

“Every night I’d be texting whichever actors or crew were going to be on the next day just to confirm [they would be there],” Puliadi said. “There were a few times when actors didn’t come and so we had to improvise.”

After filming wrapped in late March, Puliadi began the painstaking and often solitary process of editing the movie and putting the final audio and visual touches on it. 

“I edited most of it by myself, which is why editing is my least favorite part because I’m a really social person,” Puliadi said. “But [Cinematographer and Assistant Editor] Cheyenne [Wang ‘25] helped me edit a few times, whenever I needed another person’s point of view.”

Making a film is a labor of love, which makes it all the more gratifying when it’s ready for people to see. The screening in the Big Black Box was the first time Puliadi had shown his movie to a large group of people. 

“[The most rewarding part of making this film was] absolutely sitting in the movie theater with everyone,” Puliadi said. “I didn’t care about any of the applause, I just liked feeling the movie with an audience.”

Holding a camera, Puliadi films a scene featuring Conall Coats ’25. In the scene, Coats plays Chris, an actor charged with reenacting scenes from main character Cade’s life. In addition to writing and directing, Puliadi also starred as Cade. (Courtesy of Kristos Puliadi)

Filmmaking is not a solitary process: it requires the support and cooperation of a large group of people to create a quality final product. Thespian could not have been made without the help of the group of faculty members and students who worked alongside Puliadi throughout the production process. 

“I think in 10 years when I watch [Thespian], it’ll spark a lot of memories about Westwood High School, and my childhood, and also, all the friends that I made,” Puliadi said. 

Next year, Puliadi will be attending Florida State to study film. In 10 or so years, he hopes to see his name on the silver screen. 

 “I totally see myself in ten years, with the connections that I make through college and film sets that I might go on, I will try to pitch a totally updated version of this film to A24.” 

While Puliadi is moving forward with his creative journey, he leaves behind a large community of fellow cinephiles and thespians who came together to help make the film a reality.

“When I was finding people who could help me with this, I was finding people who I had no idea were into movies,” Puliadi said. “[If I had known sooner], I think I could have built even more of these memories with those kids.” 

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About the Contributor
Mayla Montgomery
Mayla Montgomery, Reporter
Class of 2026
I have always had a passion for writing and telling stories, and I am so excited to be working on press this year! When I’m not writing, I love watching my favorite shows, watching all the horror movies in existence, reading books, listening to music, and spending time with my friends and family.

Comments (4)

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  • N

    NikhilMay 21, 2024 at 11:35 am

    This was really interesting! A high school student being able to direct a full length movie was something that I did not expect was possible. I really liked how descriptive and eloquent the writing throughout the story was, and you really did the process of the movie justice, and I would actually really like to watch this movie now!

  • C

    Colton t.May 20, 2024 at 9:49 am

    THIS MOVIE WAS SO AMAZING!!!! I remember watching it in the black box and I was just amazed by the story and the characters and the fact it was all made during school is so amazing to me, kristos is a huge inspiration to me in both acting and just as a person. I can’t wait to see what he does in the future but water it is I know it will be amazing.

  • T

    TianwenMay 20, 2024 at 9:39 am

    I love the dropcap. It makes the article look really beautiful. I also love the description in the first paragraph.

  • R

    R SurMay 20, 2024 at 9:37 am

    This article was very interesting to read, I’ve never been in theatre or made my own film, so this sounds so unique. It does sounds like a lot of work, but I would love to watch it!