By INDIANA NASH
NISKAYUNA — When Jad Jacob began writing the script for what is now known as “Opus 12,” he had no idea how far his project would take him.
“I feel like I have to run to keep up with this now,” he said.
Although only 16 years old and a junior at Niskayuna High School, Jacob has self-published a book of poetry, written a 70,000-word novel, composed many pieces of classical music and was set to unveil the last episode in his video miniseries “Opus 12” at Proctors on June 9.
“I would say I’m a writer first,” said Jacob. But ever since August 2015, Jacobs has been writing not for readers but for performers and viewers.
“Opus 12” is a miniseries of ten episodes with two shorts. The plot centers around a school that teaches only the arts in a post-apocalyptic setting. There is drama between the student artists with comedy threaded in.
The cast is mainly Niskayuna High School students, with a few cameos by graduates and middle schoolers.
“The idea came to me during a film class I took at Columbia. I came home from that, locked myself in my room and just wrote the first five episodes of the series,” said Jacob.
After sending out a short Facebook post, calling for all students interested in working on a film project with him, Jacobs was able to gather a handful of people to start filming with.
“We started filming during the very first week of school,” said Jacob. At the time, he only told the cast about the first five episodes and kept his plans to write another five a secret.
“I wanted to see how the first five would go,” said Jacob.
Each episode is anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, which means at least a few hours of filming went into each one.
“We started showing them at Drama Club meetings and people got really into them,” said Jacob. The episodes were also shown during one of the film courses that Stephen Honicki teaches.
“Other students would come up to some of the cast members and say, ‘I really liked the last episode’ or ‘It was really funny when…’ ” said Jacob.
But not too many approached Jacob. “People appreciate the art, not the artist usually. If you think about movies, you think of the actors, not the directors,” said Jacob. Although Jacob has an on-screen role in the series, he is just one of many characters.
Another facet of the series that Jacobs finds is often overlooked is the music.
“Unless you hear one of the Bach pieces I included, it’s all original music,” he said.
Due to the arts academy setting of “Opus 12,” Jacob thought it would be appropriate to incorporate only classical music into the film.
“I love classical music anyways. If you look on my iPod, you won’t find any pop music at all. Only film scores, theater music and classical pieces,” said Jacob.
He has been playing the piano since he was 3 years old and the drums since he was 4.
“I wrote the pieces in September and asked a few people I knew who played the instruments I needed, like the flute and violin, to come and record with me,” said Jacob.
There is more than 90 minutes of music composed by Jacob throughout the miniseries.
Yet another little-known facet of the series is the meaning behind the title. When asked, Jacob just shakes his head and says it’s all part of the mystery of the show, although everyone seems to have their own theory on why Jacobs titled it “Opus 12.”
Students and viewers of the miniseries also developed their own theories surrounding the plot and the characters.
“People would approach me and say, ‘I’ve always wondered about this part of this one character,’ or “What if this character did such and such?’ ” Jacob said.
With this enthusiasm for “Opus 12,” two shorts were filmed as a part of the series to answer those questions and explore other plot points without derailing the show from Jacob’s original plan.
“It was hard to let go and have other people control my characters for a little while. But it was fun and I think I would definitely do that in the future,” said Jacob.
The final episode was to premier June 9 at Proctors in the GE Theater as a part of Short Cuts 15, which is a celebration of student short films.
Jacob’s lengthy list of accomplishments doesn’t mean he plans on slowing down anytime soon. However, he wants to keep much of his filming plans to himself for now.
“The story of the rebellion and the characters is over after episode 10 but you will see Opus again,” said Jacob and declined to expand upon the comment.
By INDIANA NASH