An award-winning filmmaker blends horror and sci-fi

When it was time to apply to college, Luke Momo took one tip in particular to heart: Don’t major in film. A close, older friend suggested he pick one of the humanities—English, history, philosophy—and instead explore the ways a particular subject intersects with film.

Now, with an award-winning debut feature under his belt and a trove of ideas to pursue, Momo has been reflecting on his time at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, where he majored in philosophy, dove into filmmaking as a visual arts minor, and forged connections that proved invaluable when it came time to cast his movie, Capsules

A Princeton, New Jersey, native, Momo was drawn across the river to the University for its “intellectual rigor,” originally choosing to major in classics. He did veer from his friend’s advice a bit by minoring in visual arts with a concentration in film. But a philosophical ethics class he took with professor Janna van Grunsven, Ph.D., during his sophomore year made him reconsider. 

“After I took that class, I realized that [it was]what I’d want to do my major in [and explore]the intersection between philosophy and film,” he says. The professor “was able to share with me a higher level of some of the things I was interested in at that time—and I still am. She was very supportive in that way.”

Creating a Cinema Community on Campus

Outside of class, Momo founded Fordham’s Filmmaking Club in 2016, a kind of film study group for students interested in viewing and discussing movies, as well as pursuing projects together.

“We could help each other make our films and collaborate,” he says. “We’d have very memorable screenings of all kinds of different movies that you otherwise wouldn’t see, and you could watch them in a group and discuss them afterward.”

The club continues today, with students collaborating on film projects, sharing them, and hosting film festivals. “It seems to be fulfilling its original purpose and also growing—becoming more and encompassing more ideas and progressing,” Momo says.

He also completed two internships, one at the Film-Makers’ Cooperative—an artist-run nonprofit—and one at Le Cinéma Club, a curated streaming platform featuring one free film each week. 

“It was just really cool because week after week, we were researching, writing about, discovering, and highlighting works of film art,” he says, including a number of international films to which he wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed. 

From Campus Collaboration to Award-Winning Feature

Capsules, which Momo wrote with Davis Browne, FCLC ’19, features more than half a dozen Fordham graduates in starring and behind-the-scenes roles. 

The film blends sci-fi and horror, focusing on four chemistry students who experiment with mysterious substances and find themselves struggling with addiction in an unexpected way: They’ll die unless they take more.

“I just basically pursued an emotional feeling … the fear of letting one’s life slip away and a sadness over mistakes,” says Momo, who directed the film. The premise came after the pandemic, when “we had been through so many traumas personally, in our communities, and on a global level. All these things came together, and the idea for Capsules just sort of emerged.”

The film earned the Best Feature award at the 2022 Philip K. Dick Film Festival in New York City. Momo later sold the film to a distributor, and it’s available to watch on Tubi and Vudu.

Read more “20 in Their 20s” profiles.