Michael Scarnati message on his ISA awards for “Across the Graveyard”

ISA award-winning film director Michael Scarnati statement on his Bronze Award for Best Student Short and Honorable Mentions for Best Student Director and Best Actor (David Joseph Volino) for “Across the Graveyard”. An honest and compelling drama short film about a gravedigger, struggling to adjust to life in a long distance relationship, who meets and confides in a 75-year-old widower at the cemetery where he works.

Across the Graveyard
Across the Graveyard

“As I began conceptual work for my junior film last fall, I’m pretty sure I told myself I wanted to do a comedy next for my senior thesis, just something much lighter in tone to take a break from doing another heavy, bleak drama. A lot has changed within my life in a year, I’ve become almost a completely different person, yet very few actually know of this. I’ve battled many inner bad thoughts and suffered in silence in ways I never thought I could. Depression is a serious mental illness that claims the lives of too many people, whether they be famous, like Chester Bennington, or ordinary, like my cousin. Too many people who suffer from this disease simply just don’t know; they don’t know what to do, how to handle it, or who to speak to. To have the opportunity to use what I love doing and my senior thesis film to voice my concerns over depression and encourage those suffering to be open and seek guidance seemed way more urgent to me. I am one of the lucky ones, I knew when to open up when I needed to. Not everyone else is. And I feel it’s my job as a filmmaker and storyteller to change that. If sharing a portion of my story can help in even the slightest, then I’ve done my job.” (Michael Scarnati)


Michael Scarnati is an enthusiastic filmmaker born and raised in Yonkers, New York. He has always loved narrative filmmaking and has longed to write and direct his own films in his early high school years. Since his time spent with the Purchase Film Conservatory, Michael has found a strong connection to telling stories that deal with interpersonal relationships and the flaws and conflicts that human beings face on a daily basis. He loves telling genuine, human stories that show how people interact with each other, especially in the wake of inner turmoil. Mostly focusing on crafting short dramas, Michael tries to bring his own personal stories to his work to lend a voice for those who face the same issues.

ISA award-winning David Joseph Volino and Jerry Matz in "Across the Graveyard"
ISA award-winning David Joseph Volino and Jerry Matz in “Across the Graveyard”

Michael’s other short films have been screened and awarded in several film festivals in NY, LA and Chicago over the last two years. Over his four years in film school, Michael has worked on numerous student sets and grown a strong passion for set lighting and grip work. He loves working with other filmmakers to collaboratively bring about the mood of each scene, character, and set piece in the color and lighting work he does. Upon his graduation from college in May 2018, he hopes to continue working on sets in the lighting department, while simultaneously thinking of new ideas and stories to tell in both short and feature length films.

Watch here the trailer of “Across the Graveyard”.

Independent Shorts Awards 2018 © All Rights Reserved

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