Student Collaboration Built Success for IT’S JUST A GUN Telluride Premiere
September 18, 2017
I was asked for a few words on my experience as the writer of It’s Just A Gun, which recently screened at the Telluride Film Festival. I agreed, without a clue of what to write about, but was encouraged to focus on how my time at Chapman contributed to this film.
It’s obvious that, had I not attended Chapman, I would not have had the great fortune to collaborate with the friends and professors who helped realize this project. While the adage of “writing is rewriting” was drummed into my head, in the presence of an extraordinary cohort of wildly talented writers who consistently pushed the work to a better place, it was a great blessing. The professors who worked with me throughout the writing, Bill Rosenthal and Barry Blaustein, were both generous to a fault, patiently reading each iteration with a thoughtful eye.
Our production team was exceptional. Brian Robau, coming off of the celebrated Matt Gibson-penned Meter Maid, brought a thoughtful confidence to the project, carefully assembling a veritable all-star crew and deftly executing a vision for the piece. Next in was a young super-producer, John Sayage, who fought to produce and battled to protect this project, and then Jonathan Chou, unquestionably one of the finest cinematographers to come out of Chapman in the past decade, who made magic with limited time and no resources. Kunlin Wang, a talented director in her own right, came to the rescue in the last second in the role of Production Designer and absolutely killed it. Andrés Gil Sabater, another skilled director, came aboard as AD, an often thankless job, and amiably kept the film on time and under budget. Following production, editor Ramin Teheri performed masterful surgery on the footage, helping mold it all into the final product. So many others contributed in substantive ways and it was that fortuitous collaboration of Chapman students that built this film.
The ride of It’s Just A Gun since has been pretty special. All-too-often, the life of the shorts we make is mired in solitude or permanent obscurity. We may show it to our class or screen it in the Folino Theater, but it’s so hard to get anyone outside of friends and collaborators to watch it. With this film, we were unexpectedly honored by an acknowledgment from the Student Academy Awards, followed by the screening at the singular Telluride Film Festival, during which time, we were privileged to get to interact with brilliant filmmakers and watch their work alongside them. We were also honored as one of only sixteen shorts selected out of apparently thousands submitted. While enormously appreciative, I actually found the arbitrary nature of it all somewhat haunting and it reinforced our great fortune at having been selected.
There are still several exciting announcements forthcoming, but this movie has already transcended all of our expectations and made me most grateful for the people I got to know and work with in my brief time at Chapman University.