When scouting locations for his first film, Bobby Reif decided to return to his hometown and shoot in the very spaces that inspired him to write it. Don’t Panic just wrapped up production in Wilton, and now Reif and his posse of student filmmakers are seeking funding to submit the film to festivals.

When Reif sat down to write his film, he reflected on a thought that came to him in the fall of his senior year of high school, a time marked by looming uncertainty about his future. What was that thought?

“Growing up is just pretending that you know what you’re doing.”

“Having grown up in this very privileged community, everything felt very set for the future, like ‘I have a mom and dad and they know what’s going on.’ Then I realized my mom and dad have no idea what’s going on–no one does!” he says.

This sense of ambiguity almost universal to late teenage-hood became the central theme of Don’t Panic, a film Reif describes as an “existential comedy.” Set in the final days of high school, the film features a protagonist who learns that nothing in life is as clear as it seems.

“The screenplay was me trying to find a way to take my experiences as an 18-year-old and translate them into something worthwhile,” Reif explains.

Now a rising sophomore studying film at Sarah Lawrence College, Reif hopes to make cinema his career; with a directorial debut already under his belt, he certainly seems to have hit the ground running.

“I didn’t want to wait for this magical opportunity in the land of tomorrow,” Reif says of his decision to make the film while still a student. “I thought, ‘Why should I have to wait to make a movie–I just want to do that now.’ So, I did.”

The film was shot in various locations around town, including several scenes at Wilton High School, in the same hallways Reif occupied only a year earlier as a student.

“We had to go right after school was out, so we would shoot from 3 p.m. until midnight,” he recalls. “One weekend we were able to shoot in the Field House, and we had a full prom scene set up with lights and tables and a punch bowl.”

Joining the production was a large cast and crew made up entirely of college students, with many of Reif’s Sarah Lawrence classmates traveling long distances for the shoot. Wilton residents working on the film included lead actor Harry Wendorff, production manager Michael Williams, and production assistants Bryce Tiefenthaler, John Linderman and Spencer Goodwin. Reif was effusive in his gratitude to everyone who worked on the film, stressing the collaborative nature of the enterprise.

“This isn’t just one person’s vision–everyone is working so hard to get everything done,” he says. “For the group to want to come together and help was amazing. They’re some of the best people, they really are.”

Don’t Panic is now in the post-production stage, and the cast and crew have dispersed to their homes around the country. Donations are being sought through the film’s GoFundMe page to help pay for submissions to festivals in the fall.