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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Film Students Get Experience in New Jim Gaffigan Movie

By Noell Saunders

About 25 students from Old Dominion University recently received hands-on experience in filmmaking while working on the crew of a movie starring standup comic Jim Gaffigan.

The film, "All the Animals Come Out at Night," also features actors Robbie Jones, Isabel Arraiza and Tammy Blanchard. It will premiere in late 2018.

The movie is about a computer programmer who suffers an emotional breakdown after losing his job and family. He earns money by chauffeuring a drug dealer and then resorts to even more desperate measures to make ends meet.

"All the Animals Come Out at Night" is being produced by Storyland Pictures as part of a partnership with Old Dominion and the Virginia Film Commission. The film is being directed by ODU alumnus and filmmaker Derrick Borte. Borte, a Virginia Beach native, is known for writing scripts as well as directing films such as "The Joneses" and "London Town."

"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with ODU and share the experience of working here at home alongside a world-class Virginia crew with this group of students," Borte said.

Borte also is teaching two film courses this spring at Old Dominion. He has previously worked on projects with David Mallin, the director of ODU's film program. They include "Our Nation," which was featured in PBS' annual online film festival during the summer.

"We have an ongoing relationship," Mallin said. "We wanted to see if we could do this project together and work with ODU students as a learning experience. We pitched our idea to the University's administration, and we were delighted that they agreed."

Filming took place on ODU's campus, as well as other areas in Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. Students worked with the cameras, as well as helping with makeup, lighting, ingesting content and logging footage.

Kent Sandstrom, dean of ODU's College of Arts & Letters, said, "We are thrilled to be collaborating with Borte in producing the film. Our students are benefiting greatly from the opportunity to have experience in developing a feature film, working side by side with notable industry professionals."

Rachel Fening, a senior in the film department, said she was grateful for the extensive resources that were provided to students and the opportunity to gain industry knowledge before she graduates. Fening served as an assistant to the director, working with all department heads.

"I was able to pick the brains of remarkably talented people in my desired field, and they were kind enough to give me invaluable career guidance," Fening said. "My involvement in this film has been, by far, the best learning experience I have gained at Old Dominion."

Students received credit for two six-credit internships to participate in the film production during the entire fall semester. Mallin said it's a rare benefit.

"This model doesn't exist in a lot of places where students get a firsthand experience of what a real production is like while working with real actors and movie professionals," he said. "This is a great complement to what's being taught in the classroom."

Old Dominion University's film program will receive some of the proceeds from the film.

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