By Kristen Rapin
A year in the making, a student-produced, feature-length film that examines the lives of rural Ohioans who live in a run-down trailer park will premiere June 7 at 8 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium.
Based on a book of short stories by author Russell Banks, "Trailerpark" was developed and filmed as part of a unique, two-quarter advanced video projects course in Media Arts and Studies, a school in the Scripps College of Communication.
Traditionally, the MDIA 419 class has divided into five groups, each producing a 30-minute short film. The teams have producers, directors, sound, lighting, editing and actors -- all components of a professional production team. But this year, students chose to work on one film collectively because of the interlocking nature of the stories.
Associate Professor Frederick Lewis, who directs the course, read "Trailerpark" a few decades ago while living in New England. In 2007, Lewis learned that HBO had dropped a planned television short series for "Trailerpark," and he approached Banks with the idea that the students in his 419 class could each shoot a different piece from the collection. Banks agreed and gave exclusive rights to the class.
As the films produced by MDIA students have grown in complexity, so have their budgets. "Trailerpark" had an estimated budget of $45,000.
Fundraising began last summer as students traveled to King's Island and Cedar Point amusement parks to take advantage of fundraising opportunities offered by both. They have also raised additional funds by parking cars during Ohio University basketball games. In February they received $20,000 funding from the Students Activities Commission.
Students secured equipment donations for various tools, such as high-end professional lighting equipment from Mole Richardson and a rail system and accessories from Zacuto, and worked with Jay Elsea and his family company, Elsea Home Centers, to reach a deal on trailer homes for the set.
In addition to renting eight mobile homes and camp sites at Lake Snowden, students bought a ninth trailer that was set ablaze. The fire safety program at Hocking College managed the event, which took place Feb. 14 on Hocking College property.
Funds from the ticket sales will go toward the remaining production costs.
For information about Trailerpark, visit www.trailerparkmovie.com. Tickets can be purchased at RTV Building room 202 for $3 and from the Web site for $3.50.