FILM(S): The Partner/Disposable Loan Shark (2004)

Anti-buddy-cop tale The Partner (starring Tom Hudkoski and Kevin Campbell, who some may recognize from 2009's 5-Hour Energy commercials) and Weekend at Bernie's homage Disposable Loan Shark (also starring Campbell) are resulting projects from the final classes of my time at Full Sail University in 2004 - 16mm and 35mm, respectively. For these classes, my group of around fifty students split in two. The group with which I was not involved created the Raising Arizona reminiscent Mahalo (also starring Hudkoski) and the sleek, demonic Less Than Nothing (yet again starring Campbell).

The screenplays were selected from a pool of smaller groups' respective output from a preceding writing class. They were required to have two interior sets and one exterior location and were judged based on how well we "pitched" them in a somewhat realistic scenario. The one I headed up, Bulb, about a hermitical literature fanatic who must venture out to a department store to replace the bulb to his custom reading lamp, did not make the cut. Collaborating extracurricularly with the same group, however, I did create 48-Hour Film Festival entries Rock Candy and Previous Engagement, the latter of which was selected for online presentation by festival judges.

For 16mm projects at Full Sail the crew rotates positions, each student working each position for at least three shot set-ups. For 35mm, in spite of being equal-paying students, we are required to interview for our desired positions as part of a résumé writing class. So, out of around fifty students, only four receive the opportunity to direct their final project. Even if you don't want to direct, the chances you'll land your desired position depends entirely on how wide interest in that position is spread amongst your group. I wound up as art director and, for what it's worth, I'm proud of my pre-production work on Loan Shark as, along with production designer Sandra Gabretti, I created on a very limited budget a domestic interior that has inspired many a skeptical look from audience members upon learning the bulk of the film was not filmed on location.

As for the editing process, the group would again divide into smaller groups of two or three students. Each time I paired off with Brian Wilcox. The embedded videos do not represent our editorial contributions, which have all but entirely deteriorated over years trapped on DVD (these here are from Samantha Bledsoe's Vimeo channel), but I'd hazard the cut of The Partner here is better than the one we worked on, even if ours did have a unique take on the progression of events and a bit of appropriately-placed vocal tweaking at the finale. Our version of Loan Shark was focused on mounting intensity, where most other cuts, such as the one here, played primarily with the (obviously intentional) humor of it all.

As Full Sail films do, these (or, at least, the instructor-determined best cuts) played on City Walk at Universal Studios' largest screen as part of a one-day graduation event.

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