While most Shoreline students were studying for finals last weekend, filmmaking students in Kris Boustedt's Video Production 1 class produced a movie. The group of 14 worked long, 14-hour days, beginning Friday evening and finishing in the early hours of Monday morning, to get the film "in the can" by the end of the quarter. The 20-minute "Suspect" was their finals project.
Boustedt says the group wasn’t “your typical group of new students,” referring to the caliber of skills, confidence and passion they brought to the beginning filmmaking class. Some had studied filmmaking at Mountlake Terrace, Ballard High School and other area high schools as well as taken other classes at Shoreline such as single camera video production techniques, lighting and audio equipment. By the end of the first day of class it was obvious to the filmmaking instructor that he was going to have to go beyond the basic skill set and require more advanced assignments – like producing a high-quality film.
“They were really ready to produce a professional film,” he says, “a much more complicated, challenging film.” Boustedt’s class retained the same outcomes of earlier courses he taught, but this time students got to produce a much more complex film for their final project after having produced two simpler projects earlier in the quarter.
The students’ commitment to doing whatever it takes to produce a high quality film also impressed Boustedt. While talking about the creative project, they also talked about the possibility of renting big-budget film equipment and hiring local, professional actors to capture the black and white film at in its best film noir format. All committed to raising money to support making a film that could very well draw attention to their work and the Shoreline filmmaking program. After only a couple of weeks, they raised well above their initial goal to cover the costs of not only renting professional equipment but hiring professional actors.
The students rented a RED M-X camera, the same equipment used to film such movies as David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Social Network.” The camera package was worth over $100,000.
“This is amazing stuff,” Boustedt says. “I don’t think anybody (in the community college system) has had the opportunity to work with big budget equipment like this.” The Red M-X is considered the gold standard for image quality in Hollywood.
The Shoreline students hired SAG actors like Rich Morris, who can be seen in NBC’s new primetime show, “GRIMM,” to play a lead role. He had worked on projects with Morris and other professional actors in the past and his students jumped on the opportunity to leverage their instructor’s contacts.
Students raised the money nearly $2,500 via Kickstarter, a web site at which thousands of people pledge money to support film and other creative projects. The Shoreline project drew so much attention that enough money was donated to not only cover the costs of the camera equipment and actors, but to support the costs of stage sets, costumes, props, permits and location fees.
Student producer Marco Scaringi says, “It’s incredibly humbling. It’s not just family and friends…the Seattle film community is being incredibly supportive, financially, with equipment, advice. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
Boustedt's students shot the 20-minute film, "Suspect," in a film noir style over a 42 hour period at different locations across Shoreline and Seattle, including an airplane hanger at Sandpoint Naval Base.
According to Boustedt, the storyline, which is about two detectives investigating a series of grisly murders, is one of the most complex that has ever been mounted by students at Shoreline. “It’s incredibly large in scope, in characters, locations… it’s a huge undertaking.”
Written by filmmaking student, Michael Fojt, the film was directed by Bill Kelley, produced by Marco Scaringi and photographed by Film Club president, Sophia Perez. “This is truly a group effort,” says Boustedt. “It’s not just one or two making this happen; there are fourteen students, all working together to make this film a reality.”
Boustedt couldn’t be happier. “I love it. They’re not just taking advantage of an opportunity, they’re creating their own. When they leave our program, they are no doubt going to work on sets with the same actors and same equipment as they’re using here. This project goes far beyond the caveat of a student film. In a time where everyone is cutting and pulling back, this group of students is going farther than I could ever have dreamed. They’re doing something that very few students at any school get a chance to do, and they’re putting themselves way ahead of the game as a result.”
Watch DAAG for an update on the filming of the student written, produced and edited film, “Suspect.”