Alumnus' film premiers at Sundance Film Festival
By Colleen Kiphart
Anthony Deptula's first feature film, "One Too Many Mornings," is getting a world premiere beyond his hopes, at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
If you ask Deptula, a 2002 graduate of the School of Media Arts and Studies, he will tell you that every experience -- and major -- that he had at Ohio University helped set him on the path toward independent filmmaking.
"I probably went through seven different majors before I came to TCOM," Deptula said. "It was a long journey, but it gave me the tools that I needed to be an independent filmmaker."
Sundance is a celebration of independent films that has debuted films from the likes of the Coen brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Edward Burns and Morgan Spurlock. Competition to be screened at the festival is extremely tight -- according the Sundance Web site,* only 200 of the 9,000 submitted films are selected.
The movie, almost two years in the making, is a comedy that follows a young man (Deptula) who flees home because his girlfriend cheated on him. He takes sanctuary from the world and his problems with an estranged friend from high school who lives in a church.
The lengthy filmmaking experience has been a pleasant one. "You have to try to create your own little Athens wherever you are," Deptula said. "To me, that means finding people you can work with who will help you in the creative process."
Deptula, who now lives in Los Angeles, had worked several jobs in the film and television industry before and while making his movie. But, even as he was happy to be working in his field, he was always aware of the trajectory of his career path. Deptula tried to notice recurring themes in his professional work and attempted to avoid soliciting work in only one field or subject.
"Out here it is so easy to get pigeonholed. I saw that happen and I didn't want that to be me," he said.
With that in mind, he cut back on work that was unrelated to the movie, and proceeded with his writing partners, Stephen Hale and Michael Mohan, who also directed. "It took me two years of bad jobs and being scrappy to get back to being a writer."
That drive is no surprise to Frederick Lewis, associate professor of video production. "He really loves the business and industry," Lewis said. "He just wants it. Anthony has never given up; you need endurance to make it."
In November, while visiting his family in Columbus, Ohio, with his fiance and costar Tina Kapousis, Deptula received a telephone call from Mohan with the news of their acceptance to Sundance. Though his family was thrilled with their happiness, most of them did not understand the significance.
"I started screaming and hung up. Tina started screaming, and we were all screaming," Deptula said. "Then there was shock and we had to explain to everyone what Sundance was."
It has been a long road to Park City, one that Deptula was set on during the winter of his junior year when he discovered media arts and studies and video production, especially the course MDIA 419, Advanced Video Project Design.
"I am proud of OHIO for pushing 419 and letting kids shoot (film) ... You have to be able to make films as a filmmaker. At OU everyone got to make a film," he said.
During the course of making that class project, Deptula got his first taste of having a community involved with filmmaking. Needing rain, he asked the Athens Fire Department to let him use their hoses. "They were so pumped to spray water on people. You can't get that anywhere else in the world," he said.
Roger Cooper, associate professor and director of the School of Media Arts and Studies, said Deptula is talented, proactive and motivated. "Part of his personality is that he can get people just as excited and committed as he is."
Community involvement is a theme in the marketing for "One Too Many Mornings."* Mohan, Hale and Deptula constantly update a production blog,* Facebook page* and Twitter account.*
"We want to stay connected to our audience, and we are trying to not sound cliched," Deptula said. "The movie was made with friends, and we want to stay connected and show how excited we are."
And the cast and crew are thrilled to have this opportunity. Being shown at Sundance has created careers and shaped film trends. But, as for what it means to Deptula, he said, "It means that we will have this great platform. It means that the entire world could be aware of our movie!"
*Following this link takes you outside Ohio University's Web site.