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

ODU Film Project Premieres at L.A. Film Festival

By Noell Saunders

A movie project collaboration with ODU Film students is now headed to the West Coast.

The 90-minute film, "American Dreamer," starring Jim Gaffigan, Robbie Jones, Isabel Arraiza and Tammy Blanchard, will premiere at the L.A. Film Festival at ArcLight Cinemas in Santa Monica on Sept. 27.

The movie was produced by Storyland Pictures as part of a partnership with Old Dominion and the Virginia Film Commission. It was directed by ODU alumnus Derrick Borte. The Virginia Beach native is known for writing scripts as well as directing films such as "The Joneses" and "London Town."

"Old Dominion greatly appreciates the unique opportunity our film students had to work closely with Derrick Borte, a notable filmmaker, in producing 'American Dreamer,'" College of Arts and Letters Dean Kent Sandstrom said.

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

"It's a great opportunity to raise our visibility to the center of the U.S. film world," said David Mallin, director of ODU's film program. "The students should feel proud of this project they worked very hard on."

Students received credit for two six-credit internships to participate in the film production during the 2017 fall semester.

Avi Santo, associate professor and chair of Department of Communications & Theater Arts, said this experience gave students an opportunity to learn the art, craft and technical dimensions of film, which is intertwined with professional development and real-world networking experiences.

"'American Dreamer'" exemplifies what makes the ODU Film Program so special," he said. "It affords our students opportunities to learn about filmmaking through on-set experience working alongside professional crews and established Hollywood and independent filmmakers on feature film productions and other projects."

Filming took place on ODU's campus, as well as other areas in Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. Students helped the with camera work, makeup, lighting and logged footage.

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