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Columbia College Chicago

Shooting on a Shoestring

CA+S adjunct faculty member Del Harvey's production company, Rough Cut Films, made a micro budget horror anthology filmed in Chicago. The total budget was $25,000 and it was made thanks in large part to a handful of financial supporters, an IndieGoGo campaign, and lots of sweat equity from local actors, crew, and numerous CA+S students. 

Dead Girls is an anthology about abused or wronged women who seek retribution from beyond the grave. Harvey and his business partner, Neal Fischer, took turns producing and directing two segments each, and Joe Caballero co-starred and co-produced. 

Josh Gaetz ('14) designed all special effects. Production Designer Zoe James ('15) and Costume Designer Amber Stevens ('14) made miracles happen. Key CCC crew included line producer Garrett Woods ('15), director of photography Leo Flores ('09), chief lighting tech and second camera Bret Hamilton ('15), key grip Nathan Olson ('16), grip Alex Hughes ('14), sound designer Derek O’Rourke aided by Luke D’Angelo, Cody Wallace (BA '13), and Chance Draper (BA '12). Narration was provided by noted “Scream Queen” Ms. Lynn Lowry (Cat People, The Crazies).

Columbia acting talents included Ali Hadley ('14), Noemi Santo ('15), Kelsey Sante ('16).  "The opportunity to experience a professional set taught me much more than my textbooks could about collaboration and the production process. It was a lot more fun as well!” said Sante.
Talented local actors included: Brian Rooney, Joette Waters, Dagoberto Soto, Madalyn Mattsey, Ivan Vega, Mahogany Milan, Bill Stoneking, among others.

Development for Dead Girls began April 2013 and funding was secured by May 1, 2013. In one week, Harvey and his team auditioned 100+ local actors, held callbacks, then table reads and costume fittings. Hadley and Santo helped immensely. “It was an invaluable experience. [I] learned a lot and had so much fun. We became a family during the filming process," said Santo.

Prepping for production, Harvey's team locked down locations and additional crew. They worked weekends only for a four-week schedule. Post production took another four months.  

In February, distribution was secured through M3 for North American and Worldwide streaming media (iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu), select festivals and a limited DVD run.

It took just under twelve months from development to distribution. This anthology would not have made without the spiritual support of fellow CA+S faculty members Julian Grant, Scott Foley, and Paul Peditto.

"The reason I like to incorporate students alongside seasoned filmmakers is because I believe in giving everyone a chance and in helping others grow their talent," says Harvey.  "We made an independent feature, so we could easily afford to offer a budding cinematographer a chance to work with the latest digital and state of the art equipment in a real world application.  Everyone needs to be given a chance to show what they can do. This film was that chance for all of our student crew. And they proved themselves worthy and capable of holding their own, thanks to their training and their personal discipline."

Check out the trailer for Dead Girls.