IFV premiere longest UI student-produced film

By Joo-Hyun Kim

The student independent film club, Illini Film and Video, drew a crowd of close to 430 people to the premiere of the first half of the club’s horror comedy movie, “The University of Illinois vs. a Mummy” this past Friday evening at the Natural History building.

According to Chris Lukeman, president of the club and the film’s director, the movie is a campus-based story, imagining the campus is in dangerous peril as some mummified monster kills random stereotypical college kids all over recognizable high-traffic locales on campus.

Since having the first production meeting in September 2004, the150-minute film is the longest film ever produced by University students. It is at the end of its long production process, finishing the actual shooting and giving its last effort to the editing process.

Equipped with digital technology, the club has experienced both the advantages and disadvantages of the high-tech world. They have saved money and gained efficiency by using mini digital videos instead of film. Going digital also caused them to lose a screening of the movie when their hard drive crashed and they lost one month of edited material. They have since had a screening.

“It was Monday night, and it was not fun, about 2 a.m. the hard drive was stopped. I took one hour to be sick to my stomach and then we just buckled down and had been working straight up until one o’clock before the premiere,” Lukeman remembered.

Student executive producer Alex Wayman, junior in LAS, changed his major from engineering to creative writing after becoming interested in movie making.

“In the first two minutes of the movie, it was very clear that it worked very well,” Wayman said.

Friday’s premiere was a good chance for the club to gain satisfaction from their work. Lukeman and Wayman both said they were very pleased with the audience’s reaction, especially when the audience got their jokes.

In addition to the successful reaction from the audience, they also were able to gain a sense of objectivity.

“It is hard to step back because we are living with it and hard to see objectivity. Now that we can put more distance, it is so much easier to criticize the whole process,” Wayman added.

Jennifer Kitchka, sophomore in FAA, played the leading female, Sarah, in the movie. She went to the 7:00 showing with her parents, many friends and her boss from her part time job at That’s Rentertainment.

“I was so nervous, it was my first time to see the whole movie,” Kitchka said. “Everyone liked it. They were expecting a student movie, but overall, it was a lot better than expected, and it was so fun.”

The movie has been made especially by and for University students. With influence from director Sam Rammy’s style, known for producing great movies with a low budget, Lukeman and Wayman tried to make a movie that their audience – college students – could enjoy.

“We want this one to be a very niche University of Illinois movie,” Wayman said. He added that this movie was purposefully infused with jokes that only University students could understand.

The movie makers promoted their work, highlighting that their sense of humor in “The University of Illinois vs. a Mummy” is not seen all that much in a Hollywood movie or even in the independent film arena. Also, it would not be appropriate for pop culture. Instead, the movie was made totally for entertaining people who are watching.

“It’s not about us getting our beautiful masterpiece, but making something that works with the people that we are showing.” Lukeman added. “Anybody can say ‘oh I wanna make a big goofy mummy movie attacking students.’ It’s another thing putting months of work on one scene.”

The movie is still in production, with some scenes still waiting to be edited. Once the job is done, the movie is slated to be screened again to the University audience around Valentine’s Day. The club is also planning on selling DVDs of the movie to increase profit and offset the filming expenses.

In addition to its local release, the Illini horror movie is ready to spread beyond campus. Lukeman said he will definitely send the movie to regional film festivals and the like. One of the actresses of the movie is from South Dakota, and they already have a fan base over there. Also, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale is waiting to show the movie to their students.

Wayman said that while the movie is geared towards entertaining University students, with some editing, the movie can appeal to a diverse audience.