|Posted On January 14, 2014|
An SAT tutor for the city’s most privileged kids has made a feature film based on some of his students — and financed the $150,000 flick almost entirely with the $500-an-hour fee he charges.
Poliner, 38, paid for nearly all of the movie, which premiered at the Austin Film Festival this year, with his fees. Veritas Tutors and Test Prep, the agency where he has worked for more than 10 years, contributed $5,000.
Filmmaking “is the main reason I started tutoring,” Poliner told The Post. “I love teaching, but it’s also been helpful in supporting my other passion, which is filmmaking.”
Poliner said the movie is loosely based on his “most memorable students.”
“I wanted to tell a story about the world that I work in,” he said.
“I one time had a parent contact me and say I’d been recommended by her marriage counselor and that for the sake of the family, she wanted me to handle [her child’s] test prep and college applications.”
The film’s less-privileged characters were inspired by the experiences of his wife, Megan Earls, a teacher at PS 172 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
“I wanted to take the audience on a journey between the two worlds my wife and I work within in New York,” he said.
“My work as a tutor couldn’t be further from her job, where the majority of her students qualify for free breakfast and lunch and are learning English as a second language.”
Some of Poliner’s clients gave him access to their summer and city homes for filming. Many of his students make cameos
Ex-student Doug Gleicher, 21, a junior at Washington University in St. Louis, was the basis for one character, a rapper named Dougie.
“He’s tutored all of my friends,” said Gleicher, whose rap duo, Upper West, contributed music. “We went to the first readings of the script, and he asked us what we thought. He definitely did his homework.”
“Jack, Jules, Esther & Me” was chosen to be a part of the Mayor Bloomberg’s Made in NY film campaign and will be advertised in more than 250 subway and bus stop ads across the city.
It’s available online, including iTunes, and on cable on demand.