By Bob Skolnik
Sometimes it pays to listen to your mother, and to watch a lot of television.
A little more than three years ago when Kristin Tomecek was going through freshman orientation at Tufts University, she was agonizing over what courses she should take during her first semester, overwhelmed at all the choices.
On a call home, her mother suggested that her TV- and movie-loving daughter might want to take a new course called Writing the Short Film. She took the class, enjoyed it, make a good impression, and started down a path that led to the release this fall of an eight-part online film project called Legend, which she wrote and produced. Now, she seems poised for a career in Hollywood.
"Everything great in my life I owe to my mom," Tomecek said.
The 21-year-old Riverside resident said Legend is a modern adaptation of the Arthurian knights in search of the Holy Grail. Instead of medieval knights, however, the characters in Legend are contemporary college students.
The web series is 95 minutes long and divided into eight segments. It was shot entirely on the Tufts campus in Medford, Massachusetts, and airs on Tufts University TV's YouTube channel (TUTV). It has attracted hundreds of views since it was posted in September.
While in the Writing the Short Film class, Tomecek met the station manager and production manager for TUTV, who were also taking the class. They were impressed with her work in the class and invited her to work on TUTV.
"Ever since then I've been involved with every major production with TUTV, including my own show," Tomecek said.
Tomecek wrote Legend primarily during her sophomore year, and it was filmed during the fall of her junior year. It was an extracurricular project for which the English major with minors in film and media studies and music, received no academic credit. Tomecek worked on editing the film while studying in London during the second semester of her junior year. The actors and crew were fellow Tufts students.
"It was definitely a huge chunk of my college experience," Tomecek said.
She wrote five full drafts of the Legend script, updating the Arthurian story and including more female characters and people of color. She believed that the themes of power, love, rivalry and friendship were timeless.
It was no accident that Tomecek chose the Arthurian legend as her motif. As a child, she and her family would go to the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Bristol, Wisconsin, every summer and they often visited Medieval Times.
"I always really loved the medieval period," Tomecek said. "My brother and I also love Lord of the Rings. It's one of the formative works of art, literature and of film that has impacted me profoundly from childhood."
Before going off to college, Tomecek had no experience in television or film, other than being a devoted watcher of both. While at Riverside-Brookfield High School, Tomecek was not involved in RBTV. Instead, she focused on another love, music, and was a Madrigal singer.
"When I came to college I knew I wanted to do something with creative writing," Tomecek said. "But I also really loved singing. It was never a clear plan."
But once she started working at TUTV and came up with the idea for Legend, she was hooked.
After graduating this coming spring, Tomecek hopes to land a job in Hollywood and launch a career that culminates in an executive position. Despite coming from a university outside Boston without a film major, she is well on her way.
She has spent the past two summers working in Los Angeles for production companies located on the legendary Warner Brothers lot, surrounded by sets of television shows such as "Shameless," which although set in Chicago, is shot in L.A.
As part of her summer jobs, Tomecek reviewed submissions and made recommendations on what proposals were worth pursuing. Her literary background comes in handy in reviewing plots and storylines.
"You sort of learn to how to develop a taste," Tomecek said. "One of the greatest aspects I think that I have is just love for film and TV, just watching everything."
After graduating she hopes to land a job working on script and story development, which is her passion and strength. Her experience writing and producing Legend gives her an impressive calling card.
"It definitely gave me a little more experience," Tomecek said. "I was able to see the whole process from inception to distribution."
Although she envisions her future as one of working with writers more than being a writer herself, she continues to write as a theater and opera reviewer for Theater Times.
She is also working on a screenplay based on a 2015 Riverside-Brookfield Landmark story about a 72-year-old woman who rode her solar-powered bicycle from Minnesota to Georgia in a quest to get the autograph of former President Jimmy Carter.
"It's all storytelling and it's all really fascinating," Tomecek said.