Ah, the thesis film. So much work goes into these buggers. Usually a year, sometimes 2 years just to complete a 20 minute short! They are the culmination of not just our time in film school, but our entire filmmaking experience. If done right, they should demonstrate all the skills you have to offer the industry. Then once complete they can be used as a calling card for yourself in the industry. Unfortunately there’s not much of a market for short films in the US. But there’s an enormous short film festival circuit that we can navigate and a few distribution company’s that might take interest in your work. Oddly enough, it’s easier to get a feature seen than a short. But it’s much cheaper to make a really professional looking short film than a low budget feature. So this is what we do. And what I did. I’m very happy with my thesis. It’s called DAMON and is about the Antichrist.
The film is about a kid named Damon, who happens to be the Antichrist. Here’s the logline: “In this imaginative dark comedy, growing up can be Hell. When the reluctant Antichrist falls in love on the eve of his big initiation ceremony, his humanity is put to the ultimate test. Now at a crossroads, Damon must decide once and for all if he can become who he was born to be . . . if he’s truly EVIL”.
The film draws from a lot of references – from Harold and Maude, The Omen, the Coen brothers and of course, good ole Tim Burton. But even though it’s a fantasy, it’s got very universal themes. It’s about self-discovery, first love and standing up for who you are. But with a twist, of course. That’s the fun part!
The film took about a year to make – from conception to completion. But the bulk of the work was done in about 8 months. I’m glad we took our time with this. I could have done it half the time. But the extra care really shows, I think. I took about 4 months to write the script and got assistance from a terrific co-writer named Nick Torokvei. We shot for 9 days in November 2011, with 2 days of pickups/reshoots in December. Then we had a few months of post production in order to make our thesis premiere date of Friday March 23rd, 2012.
And the premiere was awesome. Couldn’t have been better. Well, maybe a lazer light show could have made it better. Lazers make lots of things better. Anyway, my folks, grandparents and good family friends all came out to see it on the big screen. It was screened in the massive and stupidly beautiful Folino Theatre at Dodge College in Orange alongside a half dozen or so other MFA thesis films from my year. After our films screened, we each had to get up and say a few words of introduction and thank everyone we could. It felt great standing up there knowing I’d accomplished so much. All-in-all, the film was well received and the night was as good as I could have imagined. And just like that, my MFA requirement was complete!
Also be sure to check out the DAMON website: damonthemovie.com