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Short film created in a short time

Cinema Digital Arts program sets a precedent by producing two short films in one school year.

December 13, 2017

The TMU communications department has had a long history of producing films made by students and professionals, and this winter the Cinema and Digital Arts (CDA) program is creating a new short film during the Winterim session.  “A Hard Gamble” will bring to life the classic film noir genre in the form of a detective thriller set in the 1940’s.

Professor Matt Green, the head of the CDA major, co-wrote the script for the upcoming film and will serve as the director on set over the winter break as pre-production rolls begins.

This production serves as a platform for a number of firsts in the department that will make this film a special one to those involved.

“In the past, we have only done one short film,” said Green. “This year we are doing two. This will also be the first time that we built our own set here on campus.”

These films are created and produced as a way to get practical experience on a real film set that they can use to network with professionals and get a sense of what the movie industry has to offer. Normally, the films are produced in the spring semester and take many months of production to see the final product.

Doing two films in the spring semester would be difficult and impractical, so Green and others in the department looked to maximize production time between the two. Ultimately, they decided that a winter course offering would optimal route to go so that the production of the films can be spread apart.

Student involvement with the films created by the department including last year’s film “The Lunch Rush” have become so increasingly popular over the last few years that Green and Bob Dickson, Communication Department chair, began to brainstorm about how to get more chances for different grades and age groups to get involved.

“The cool thing is that this film is not just open to the students here at the school; it’s actually open to high school students doing dual enrollment.”

By opening up the project to more age groups, it allows the purpose of the entire film’s production to be sprinkled to a wider audience.

“If a student has ever considered, ‘Hey, I’d like to know what it’s like to work on a movie set,’ they can get a crash course in one week on what it is like to work on a film. So really this film is more of a mentorship process as students work hand in hand with industry professionals on the film.”

The film noir concept is a unique choice in this current climate, mainly because the genre hits its stride when viewed in black and white, a dying breed in today’s film industry. Green wanted to do justice to the genre’s classic style and chose to create this film in an authentic way so that the look and feel of the finished product will resemble a classic entry in the film noir genre.

“It is going to be shot entirely in black and white,” said Green. “It’s going to look and feel like it was made in the 1940s. That’s what we’re going for.”

These aspects of the film are what brings excitement to the project, as well as some creative challenges. In film, black and white is much different than just removing the color and it affects everything on screen. Clothes and actors don’t look the same on a black and white film as they do in color. Green continued to stress that a production like this will push the department in new ways.

“We have to check out lenses, do all sorts of tests on filters because we are trying to fool the audience into thinking the film was made in the 1940s,” said Green.

Time in production also plays a factor in the planning of the film. As with any film production, maximizing time spent on production is one of the biggest challenges a crew will face. Unlike last year’s single shooting day of “The Lunch Rush,” the noir film will be shot over a period of three days in January. Maximizing those three days will be the biggest challenge of the entire production, and Green is very aware of this challenge.

“No matter how much time you have, it is not enough. No matter how much money you have, it is not enough. As soon as the camera starts rolling, money starts flying out the door and you have to be very precise with planning. The more organized you can be in your production, the more successful you will be.”

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