‘The Transient’ portrays Lincoln in a darker light



By Phil Collins

“There are going to be a lot of pissed off people in Springfield on Sept. 21,” Joey Burgess said jokingly of the local film “The Transient” being selected as the winner of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Award. The 30-minute film will be shown at the Route 66 Film Festival as the winner of the category that director Chris Lukeman said was for films set in Lincoln’s time, about Lincoln or featuring Lincoln. However, it is probably safe to say that the rest of the films that competed in the category do not portray Lincoln as a vampire.

Lukeman, a University alumnus and former president of Illini Film and Video, shot “The Transient” with the Registered Student Organization in the summer of 2007. The film focuses on a homeless vigilante that must stop vampire Abraham Lincoln from draining the blood of four score and seven virgins and reclaiming the highest office in the land. Lukeman wanted a professional Lincoln impersonator to play the character, whose lines are often quotes from the former president. Lukeman said he received many polite declines before finding someone interested in the film.

“Michael Krebs, who is our Lincoln, perfectly respected Lincoln’s status in pop culture,” he said.

“The Transient” premiered Friday during Illinites at the Illini Union. The film was shown three times, with other short films made by Illini Film and Video filling the gaps between screenings. Lukeman said he was happy with the turnout.

“We had around 200 overall for the night and I know for two of the three “Transient” showings, every seat was filled,” he said.

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    Burgess, a senior in Engineering and president of Illini Film and Video, said everyone involved is happy about the way the film turned out.

    “We put in way too much time, and people were way too happy,” he said.

    “The Transient” was filmed in 10 days in Champaign. Lukeman said people in the area were cooperative, and scheduling with the cast and crew worked out well during the summer.

    “We filmed more than we had any right to be able to film within a week,” he said. “Half the crew was working nine-to-five real jobs.”

    Lukeman said he is planning an off-campus premiere for later this month or next month.

    Among other projects, Illini Film and Video will hold a 49-hour film competition later this semester. The club gives teams a prompt – last year a prop, a line of dialogue and a shot – and they have 49 hours to turn in a complete film. Burgess said last year’s competition had 20 teams sign up and drew 100 to 200 people for the screening of the films.

    “The idea was that it was 49 hours because it was the weekend of daylight savings time ending so you got an extra hour,” he said.

    This year, daylight savings time ends on Halloween weekend, so the club decided to push the competition to the next weekend, but teams will still have 49 hours to complete their films.

    Illini Film and Video helps network local filmmakers with people interested in helping out local films through acting, editing, lighting or whatever the director may need. Victor Abson, graduate student, is working on a series about women’s interpersonal relationships.

    “My first film in the sequence is about a group of three girls who are studying for an upcoming history exam,” he said. “During the course of the five-minute film, they relate the lessons of World War II to their own personal lives.”

    Abson first got involved with Illini Film and Video during last year’s 49 hour film competition. He found people through the club who helped him finish his film.

    “You could do a whole five-minute short by yourself but the more people there are, the less work there is for one person, which is kind of the point of the group,” he said.