||A feature movie written and directed by faculty Cullen Thomas and produced by staff member Donald Revolinski, with assistance from students in all aspects of production, has recently won top awards at independent film festivals in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.
Titled The Vindication of Ronald Clay and Other Fables for a Rainy Day, the 90-minute movie is a collection of interwoven fables about the lives of five patrons to a coffee shop at the center of the universe. Set in an alternate but recent past where Napoleon’s descendants rule Europe and the world’s population has exceeded critical mass, the film takes a whimsical, musing look into the strangely connected lives of five café patrons.
It won the top award, a Gold Eddy, for feature film in the Pro/Am category at last month’s Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival, which had nearly 60 entries from Iowa and around the country.
And it won Best Iowa-Connected Feature Film late last fall in the Wild Rose Independent Film Festival. Plus, in the same competition it won top awards for Best Lighting Design and Best Fight Choreography/Stunts, as well as distinctive achievement awards for visual effects, costumes, feature film editing, feature film cinematography, feature film supporting actress, feature film actor, and feature film director.
The movie was produced as part of the Media and Communications department’s Feature Film Production curriculum. More than a dozen MUM students contributed to the production, including assistant director, set design, lighting, props, stunt coordination, transportation, wardrobe, hair and makeup, and visual effects.
“It’s a huge honor, and nice to see the students’ work recognized,” Mr. Thomas said. “These are relatively small film festivals but it’s where we want to be because it gives us the opportunity to meet lots of other filmmakers and make valuable connections. We met our director of photography for our movie at a previous film festival.”
The 17-member cast includes MUM alumni, a Maharishi School student, members of the community, Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy, and experienced film actors from Des Moines, Iowa City, Oskaloosa, and Burlington.
The film was shot on location in Fairfield using the department’s state-of-the art Red One digital camera. Used for feature films such as The Social Network, the camera, which costs around $55,000, can imitate the look of many different kinds of traditional film cameras costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Tentative plans are to premier the movie online this summer. A trailer can be seen at tinyurl.com/8euwq7g. The film’s Facebook page is www.facebook.com/vindicationofclay.
Both Mr. Cullen and Mr. Revolinski are graduates of the BA in Media and Communications. An MA in Media and Communications will launch this fall with a focus on filmmaking.