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“Id:” A Feature Length Film by USF Students

It’s not everyday that the Red Vic on Haight Street will premiere a student-directed film, but that is exactly the reality for “Id,” a film directed and written by USF student Kevin Kunze, who claims he has been directing movies since he was seven. Kunze, who is a Media Studies major, has been writing “Id” since his freshman year at USF and can now finally bask in its completion in his senior year. The project began as a compilation of his dreams and random thoughts and grew into his first full-length film and senior thesis. It will premiere at the Red Vic for a free screening at 4 p.m. on Nov. 19, conveniently coinciding with his twenty-first birthday.

“Id” tells the story of four friends living out their final days underground in a fallout shelter. The world above them has turned to madness and anarchy. Out of the terrible isolation and straining thoughts of the future they begin to go crazy in their confinements.

With a cast of five, four of which are USF students, and a crew of eight, three of which are USF students, Kunze has really pulled his resources in creating his full-length film. In fact, Melinda Stone, the director of Film Studies at USF has taken on the Executive Producer position. Kevin Epps, the other Executive Producer, helped get the movie noticed at the Red Vic. Kunze also found a professional studio in Soma called Sir Studio with the help of two San Francisco artists, Justin Mussman and Austin Becker. Jimmy Buffett uses the same studio during the day. The music for “Id” is vastly different from Buffett’s; however, the movie definitely features dark, eerie sounds.

The USF students involved in the production include: Dylan Wittrock playing Adam Kadmon; Ava Madison Riley playing Lilith Kadmon; Maria Luna Garcia playing Maya Deimos; Zachary Rich playing Curtis Kunstler; and Chet Bentley, Dennis Walker and Brittany Rowles on the production team.

Kunze has high hopes for his independent film. He plans to enter the final product into several film festivals, covering local ones such as SF International and Cinequest as well as the “big ones” including Sundance, Venice and Cannes film festivals. However, Kunze admits, “That’s the tricky thing about being an independent filmmaker these days. You have to set up a website, Facebook group, and try to get the word across.”

“I won’t tell you what the message is, that’s why I made the movie,” Kunze said. For Kunze, showing human emotions through the film is his biggest goal. “If you make the emotions big, you don’t need elaborate settings or props.”

For “Id,” he believes there is a “timeless feel” to the whole story. Kunze likes to look at examples of bad movies to see what the director did wrong, and learn from those mistakes. The example he gave was “Alice in Wonderland.” Kunze commented, “I wanted to rent it to see how bad it really was. You can learn a lot by checking out bad examples.”

The process of filming “Id” took about a year. Kunze pointed out that films such as “Black Swan,” directed by Darren Aronofsky, took nine years to organize and then was filmed in forty to forty-five days. “So many things can go wrong. Every day is a compromise. I feel it’s near the final product. It’s a child. It’s never truly finished. But in the end, you have to be satisfied,” said Kunze of the process. “One time,” he said, “we were shooting in an alleyway by Loyola Village and someone called the cops on us. Thankfully the cops understood. That was a hazardous day.”

Even though his first feature film has not premiered yet, Kunze is already thinking about his future films. “Next I’m doing a comedy,” he laughed. He would love to switch methods up and escape from so much drama for a while. “I would love to do a book adaptation, and work further with Kevin Epps,” he said.

Dylan Wittrock, a sophomore at USF and the lead character, said of the experience: “Actually getting shown at the Red Vic is a surreal feeling. I haven’t seen the whole thing put together yet, so I get to be surprised at the premiere.”

Wittrock, who has performed in other student films before said, “This is the most extensive movie I have been in.”

When asked how it was working with Kunze, Wittrock said, “Kevin put it all together. He fought for this movie. He knows what he wants. Sometimes organizing stuff is difficult, but it’s fun to work with him. He would ask my opinion on a lot of stuff.”

His role in “Id” was demanding in new ways.

Wittrock said, “I had to show a lot without dialogue at some points. I had to show emotion without overacting. It’s a challenging process.” Despite the “challenges,” Wittrock said he “got really into the character.”

With all the hard work put into “Id,” there should be a line waiting to get into the Red Vic on Nov. 19 at 4 p.m. There will be a raffle and donations taken at the premiere to support the independent film.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain

Scene: Tamar Kuyumjian

Who Will Take Home the Gold? Kunze’s Oscar Picks

Mia Johnson/Foghorn

So it’s that time of year again when tensions run high and bets are made over who will win the big awards like best picture, actor and screenplay in the 2010 Oscars. As a film studies student and a movie buff, these are my predictions for the big winners this year.

Probably the hardest category to guess this year is Best Picture. With Cameron’s Avatar breaking box office and special effects records, it is hard to not see the award going to sci-fi wizard. However, his ex-wife Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) did pick up the Director Guild’s Top Prize, becoming the first woman to do so. My predictions: Cameron for Best Picture, Bigelow for Best Director. Cameron has been wondering for weeks what line he’ll quote from Avatar when he grabs another gold boy. However, instead of the classic Titanic line, “I’m the King of the world,” he’ll probably yell out “Eywa has heard you” or “I see you.”

For Best Actress, I’m placing my money on the amazing and emotional performance by newcomer, Gabourey Sidibe (Precious). Having met her in person, I can say she is one of the most intelligent actresses of her generation. On the other hand, Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia) has so many Oscars she’s started using them to hold up unstable furniture. Give it to the new girl. She impressed me when I found out she corrected her director with Italian translations on set.

Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) has been snubbed by the Academy on four nomination occasions. Having portrayed a number of great memorable roles throughout the past two decades including The Dude (The Big Lebowski) and Max Klein (Fearless). The only other contender that might rob him of his much-deserved Oscar would be Colin Firth for his subtlety sad performance in A Single Man. As for Best Supporting Actor, Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) already has his Oscar in the mail for playing a trilingual Nazi traitor. The Best Supporting Actress award will most likely go to Mo’nique (Precious) for her strong role as an abusive urban mother. Even though Mo didn’t do any publicity for the film, her acting stands out much more than the other nominees. Plus, how can she lose when Oprah has her back?

As for the writing awards, I predict Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds) will grab Original Screenplay for his fictional satire about WWII Nazi scalpers and Adapted Screenplay will go to Precious’ Geoffrey Fletcher for tackling the difficult subject matter. This must have been an especially challenging project to adapt for Fletcher considering the novel is written in broken English and stream of consciousness. It should also be noted that the author, who was initially very skeptical of having her novel turned into a movie, cried during the first screening.

Finally, I foresee the Oscar for Best Documentary going to The Cove, perhaps the most important film of the year. The movie follows a group of activists, led by renown dolphin trainer and Flipper star, Ric O’Barry as they attempt to infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health. If people only knew what was really in their sushi!

If you’re interested in watching the Academy Awards, they air March 7 at 5 pm on ABC. There will also be a party March 7 at 5 PM at Pedro Arrupe Hall (6th Ave and Anza). There will be prizes, free pizza, popcorn, and cookies. Be sure to throw on a gown or a tux, it’s time to dress your best.

The Winners List:

Best Picture – Avatar

Best Director – Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)

Best Actor – Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)

Best Supporting Actor – Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Best Actress – Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)

Best Supporting Actress – Mo’Nique (Precious)

Best Foreign Film – The White Ribbon, Germany

Best Animated Film – Up

Art Direction – Avatar

Cinematography – The Hurt Locker

Costume Design – The Young Victoria

Best Documentary – The Cove

Film Editing – Avatar

Makeup – Star Trek

Best Original Score – Avatar

Best Original Song – “The Weary Kind” (Crazy Heart)

Sound Editing – Avatar

Sound Mixing – Avatar

Best Visual Effects – Avatar

Best Adapted Screenplay – Precious

Best Original Screenplay – Inglourious Basterds

Behind the Scenes: Kevin Kunze

Kevin Kunze holds the video camera that he recently purchased to shoot “Id” his first feature length film.  Picture by Melissa Stihl/Foghorn

Kevin Kunze holds the video camera that he recently purchased to shoot “Id” his first feature length film. Picture by Melissa Stihl/Foghorn

Junior Kevin Kunze has recurring nightmares about having laser eye surgery go awry. Though he wears contact lenses to correct his vision, he would not consider getting his eyes permanently fixed with the slightly risky procedure. “It’s not worth the risk when you count on your eyes for your future,” he said.

He’ll certainly need them for his upcoming project, his first feature length film, Id, which he hopes to start filming as soon as this month. The film will be counted as a directed study with media studies professor Melinda Stone and he will be blogging updates at kevinkunze.tumblr.com.

A media studies major and film studies minor, Kunze is a filmmaker who produced his first project at age seven. It was a short horror film starring his friends set in Stratford, Conn. where he grew up. When the tape they had filmed on was ruined after working on their masterpiece all day, they redid it the following day. Kunze said the results were much better the second time around; it was his first lesson in the laborious production process.

Since then Kunze estimated he has worked on over 150 short films, including short documentaries, dramas, animations, and paid commercials. He has had a YouTube video go viral, produced a segment for a show on Punjabi TV in India, and had films screened in festivals around the world. He was hired as a lab monitor for the USF media lab his freshman year and has been a TA for advanced film classes, usually positions reserved for upperclassmen. He also interns at Microcinema International, an independent film distribution company, and works as a resident adviser in Pedro Arrupe hall.

Now Kunze is embarking on the challenge of a feature length film, a process that may well take a year or two and brings with it obstacles not yet presented to him in the world of short films. Finding actors has been more challenging, he said, due to the longer time commitment for which they will have to sign contracts. Securing locations for an extended period of time is also difficult, especially because of the unusual settings the film Id calls for.

The film is set in an underground fallout shelter, where four friends are experiencing their own personal losses (death of parents, a stillborn baby, a runaway cat) while dealing with the possibility of the world coming to an end. It is a sort of existential thriller according to Kunze. He said, “People keep approaching me saying, ‘I don’t get it, but it seems cool.’” The important thing to Kunze is that he gets it. “I can picture the entire story without looking at the script,” he said. The themes of the film are loss and mortality, but ultimately sends a message to embrace the present instead of dwelling on past and future.

Editing is Kunze’s favorite part of the production process. “Editing is unique to film as an art form. It’s like sculpting through time.” Kunze appreciates every aspect of the process though, from writing the script to filming. “Filming can be stressful. There are always accidents,” he said. “You just hope they become happy accidents.”

In the pre-production stage, there is still much to do. Though some of his actors and locations are determined, others are not. He is still actively seeking actors, and wants to recruit students if possible. His to-do list may be full, but Kunze feels confident that the film will happen.

Kunze is attempting to work very low budget. Actors will be paid based on a percentage of the film’s profits. Props are mostly being donated or acquired on the cheap. As for the camera, Kunze recently pawned off some of his possessions to invest in his own high definition camera.

To see some of Kunze’s work, click here.