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Sachem North Grad Launches Documentary Series

Jesse Mineo takes aim at his generation in “The Millennials."

The Beatles once sang: “the long and winding road/leads me back through your door.” For Jesse Mineo, a recent graduate of the Tisch Film School at NYU, that long and winding road has led him back to Sachem and growing up in the suburbs of Long Island.

The 2007 alum of has taken his filmmaking skills learned at Sachem and refined at NYU, and turned the camera inward—to his own generation. His documentary series "The Millennials" is currently in development, fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas, a non-profit organization that allows tax deductible donations.

The documentary will travel around the country; highlighting subjects that can be a source of inspiration--subjects he feels are grossly underrepresented by current reality television shows. 

“There’s this belief that reality TV has to be dumb,” Mineo says. “It can’t have substance. I have nothing against dumb reality TV; it’s a way to turn your brain off. But if you can provide entertaining content that shows a bit of growth, I think that can work.”

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“Millennials,” or “Generation Y” is a sociological group comprising the population born approximately between 1981 and 1989. Millenials are self-centered. Spoiled brats. Millennials are egotists, obsessed with celebrity and coolness. Millennials are mindless consumers of product and unwitting ambassadors to corporate brands. They know nothing of a world without the Internet. Mineo has heard all of these characterizations, but rejects them.

“That’s the same conversation we had years ago about how Marilyn Manson and video games is creating serial killers. It’s overblown and over-dramatized,” he says.

He believes his generation is witnessing the meltdown of time-worn institutions. Housing markets are declining. Professions, such as teaching, are strained and devalued.

“Our defining characteristic is that the things that existed for years have crumbled,” he says. “That fact is changing what we value and our state of mind is based on having grown up on this system and it’s now disappearing. The millennial identity is still being defined. The data is too new. We’re just starting to form a solid identity now.”

For Mineo, his film project is an attempt to shed light on the many ways in which his generation has just as much in common with previous generations: creating art, striving to improve, determining its values. Mineo attributes his values to the way he was raised and the education he was afforded at Sachem.

His budding film career began when he took a marketing course with the late Joe Taylor. One assignment, creating a trailer for an existing Hollywood film, became a passion and an obsession for Mineo. Later he took a digital media class with Diana DelVallez, who immediately recognized his potential.

“When he was a student with me, his film "Stress" was one of a handful of films selected from the tri-state area to be in the 'First Exposure Film Series' at the Southampton movie theater,” DelVallez stated in an e-mail. “He was such an excellent student and person.”

As another nod to Mineo’s roots, Jessica Sfera, a fellow Sachem graduate who grew up across the street from Mineo, hosts and narrates the series. Mineo’s long-term goal is to see “The Millennials” picked up by a major cable outlet such as Discovery or the Travel Channel. Contributions to the project can be made through the series website, themillennials.tv.

“The Millennials is rooted so much in the way my experience growing up has converged with my experience in New York City and at NYU,” Mineo says. “It’s a marriage of the set of priorities I have, which is intrinsically tied to Sachem and Long Island.”

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