A graduate in film and television from Drexel University, he directed his first feature film

Director Samiyah Wardlaw on the set of ‘Burn Out’.

Samiyah Wardlaw may not be entirely related to the title character of her feature debut “Burn Out,” but they both have one big thing in common – a whirlwind post-college summer.

Wardlaw, who graduated in the class of 2022 from Drexel University, began writing a screenplay during spring break his senior year. As a film and TV scholar, she knew she wanted to make a summer movie and looked into the unknown world that awaited her after graduation. The result is “Burn Out,” a coming-of-age film set the summer after the title character graduates from college. The main character, Frida Coleman-Wood, juggles a romance with a childhood best friend, takes care of her younger sister, and tries to plan the rest of her life. Wardlaw co-wrote the screenplay with Jane Cammisa ’22. Once they got started, they wrote and rewrote the script a dozen times.

“I think the things that the character thinks about and goes through were things that we all start to think about and go through and we knew they were coming, so it was easier to write it,” Wardlaw said. “But at the same time, I think the character is very different from me as a person and it’s also always interesting to write a character who is different from yourself.”

Wardlaw is the executive producer, co-writer and director of the film and spends her days focusing on the cast and managing the crew. Along with Wardlaw and Cammisa, most of the team is made up of Drexel graduates and current students, and Wardlaw is happy to have another summer with his people before they go their separate ways. A few members of the team had previously worked together making short films for their own senior projects. Today, they are shooting their first feature film together.

Due to the small community of students majoring in film and television at Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Wardlaw saw many of the same people throughout his undergraduate experience and was able to form good friendships and relationships.

“We have so much fun on set and that’s because we all know each other so well,” Wardlaw said. “Because the days can be long and hard, it’s nice to do it with your friends.”

Since the 15-person crew began filming in mid-July, they’ve had four 12-1pm days of filming, with one to go as of press time. Once filming is complete, “Burn Out” will move into post-production, where editing, sound mixing and colorization will take place. Wardlaw estimates the film will be ready in December or January.

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