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'Trailerpark' makes its Hollywood debut

Nov 4, 2009
By Janelle Huelsman

Nearly five months after its premiere at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium at Ohio University's Athens campus, the feature film "Trailerpark," made its Hollywood debut Thursday night.

The film, based on a series of short stories by Russell Banks, 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.

Previously, students in the course divided into five groups to produce five 30-minute short films, but "Trailerpark" marked the first attempt at making a feature film, likely the only of its kind produced entirely by undergraduate students in the nation.

Thursday's screening at Linwood Dunn Theater was an opportunity for Ohio University alumni in the area to see the film. Many in attendance were former students in the School of Media Arts and Studies and also had taken the same course with Associate Professor Frederick Lewis.

"Many of the people in the audience who had taken the course together are now working together in Los Angeles," Lewis said. "Forming those relationships in the classrooms, working long and intense hours on team projects and letting those relationships continue to help each other find jobs, internships and housing really goes to show how strong those bonds are."

That same loyalty to their alma mater holds true for Matt Rhodes, a 1994 Media Arts and Studies graduate and a producer at Persistent Entertainment in Los Angeles. Rhodes met with students during the production of "Trailerpark" and said he was excited to support them during the L.A. screening.

"It was great to know they had such an incredible experience. Students kept in contact with me throughout the project, and it's great to see how proud of their project they are," Rhodes said.

"Alumni have been supportive from the beginning -- before we even had a finished project -- sending words of encouragement, donating money and giving advice," said Conor Hogan, the film's coordinating producer and a senior in video production. "Everyone who worked on 'Trailerpark' is so attached to it, so it's just great to be able to show people the final product."

Following Thursday's screening, the students will focus on entering "Trailerpark" in 30 different film festivals around the globe. Because there are not separate categories for student productions at film festivals, "Trailerpark" will compete against other independent films.

Despite the challenge, Rhodes is optimistic. "I've had movies in every major film festival, and it's going to be unbelievably exciting to see whether undergraduate students can participate. It could be
a great opportunity to bring notoriety to the program, to the school and to the university."

Katie Kribel-Cates, a 2005 Honors Tutorial College alumna who studied video production and attended Thursday's screening, echoed Rhodes thoughts. "I think the students who produced 'Trailerpark' have a great chance of it succeeding in film festivals. They had a great story, complimented by the resources available and their talent."

Now working as a coordinator in the television literary department of an entertainment agency in Los Angeles, Kribel-Cates said she was proud to see what Ohio University students were capable of producing.

"It was great to see how far along the program has come in the last five years," she said. "It makes the students proud to be part of such a program, and it makes me proud to be a graduate."


Published: Nov 4, 2009 3:49 PM

'Trailerpark' Hollywood premiere

Production Designer Lauren Malizia ('09), Art Director and Special Effects Makeup Artist Bryan Fulk ('09), Coordinating Producer Conor Hogan, Mike Gillespie ('08) and Co-Director Jonny Look celebrate following the Hollywood screening.

Photograph courtesy of Lauren Malizia


"Trailerpark" had its world premiere at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium on June 7, 2009. Visit the film's Web site at www.trailerparkmovie.com.

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