Students form group to make and show original work

Muhlenberg College welcomes a new club born from the COVID-19 pandemic

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Danny Milkis '23, Connor McCully '22, Eli Taylor-Kerman '21 and Lorenzo Antigua '24 // Photo by Sebastian Mora/REM Collective

A struggle many artists face, especially in the fallout of the pandemic, is how to make it big. In artistic fields that have become so obsessed with big names and recognizable brands, how is one supposed to find their big break? Realizing this issue, and dealing with an artistic slump brought by the pandemic, Thomas Riley ‘22 and Sebastian Mora, a senior at New York University, created the Riley Emmaus Mora (REM) Collective, an organization where members have the ability to “​​collaborate and make our own original work and produce, share and showcase it. And being able to just make our own opportunities,” as described by Mora. 

Riley and Mora made sure to highlight the guiding mission of the Collective: that instead of “waiting for the phone to ring,” members of the Collective are “the ones who make the call,” Riley said. “Stop waiting for your career to be based off of if other people want you on their team, and be the one building those teams.” He was recounting advice a professor gave him, which now serves as a mantra of sorts for the Collective. 

The REM Collective started with Riley and Mora, high school classmates, meeting up over the pandemic to catch up on their lives. Mora talked about how “Things were kind of just slowing down. Or, we felt like there was something that was missing for us artistically, creatively and just in general… in a time where art was limited or where art was prohibited to be made because of the given circumstances [the COVID-19 pandemic].” From there, the two devised a plan to heal the artistic wound caused by the pandemic. The foundation of a collective of artists to work collaboratively and creatively emerged. They decided to branch out from their theatre backgrounds to film, music and dance and to provide an example for others to do the same. 

“Stop waiting for your career to be based off of if other people want you on their team, and be the one building those teams.”

– Thomas Riley ’22

Riley comments, “It’s very difficult to find those opportunities unless you’re already established or you’re going to school for it or you have connections. It felt like the gate was closed… in terms of being able to try new things, and we saw this as an avenue where if we’re making it ourselves, who’s to stop us from trying something new? Who’s to stop a first-time director from directing?… Who’s to stop somebody who’s never written before [from] producing their own written works? So we’ve been able to use the Collective as a way to deepen our own work as actors, but also try your hand at new things and discover new passions.”

As a group of artists working in diverse media, the REM Collective aspires to bring in work from a variety of different art forms. At the current moment, they predominantly work in film but they have been branching out with projects like Danny Milkis’ ‘23 “Sanctorum,” an original operetta produced on the Muhlenberg campus by Milkis and other members of the Collective. 

“The Collective offered me an outlet and an opportunity to present a piece that was born over quarantine,” said Milkis. “The dedication, inspiration and passion of the artists in this organization were what allowed this piece to blossom.”

What’s next for the REM Collective? Auditions to join the Collective are open until this Friday, Oct. 8, so if this sounds interesting, act fast! Along with auditions closing on Oct. 8, the teaser trailer for Mora’s “not-so-short film,” the Collective’s biggest project yet, a forty-five minute contemporary horror film called “Sisters,” will also be released. “Sisters” is slated for a late October or early November release, so be on the lookout. Another big project from the Collective, Riley’s “Pillow Fort,” is the group’s first time outsourcing actors for a project and is currently in the midst of production and filming.

“The dedication, inspiration and passion of the artists in this organization were what allowed this piece to blossom.”

– Danny Milkis ’23

Even with those projects on the horizon, there is still so much more to look forward to from the REM Collective. To stay updated, and find information on how to audition, check out their social media pages, @officialremcollective on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. To see their earlier projects check out REM Collective on YouTube.

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