After years of hard work, a film project, written for and filmed in Hampton Roads, by an Old Dominion University alumnus and filmed with help by university students, is opening in wide release.
“American Dreamer,” starring Jim Gaffigan and directed by Old Dominion University alumnus Derrick Borte, was shot with the help of university film students in 2017. While the film has been making the rounds at festivals, including the L.A. Film Festival in 2018, it will be widely available starting Sept. 20. That wide release, will be celebrated at the Naro Expanded Cinema on Sept. 19 and 21 with a screening and a Q&A session with Borte and producer Daniel Forte.
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, and received credit for the two six-credit internships to participate in the film production.
“American Dreamer was the perfect partnership between Storyland Pictures, The Virginia Film Office, and ODU. The real-world experience working with world class professionals has resulted in numerous students gaining a foothold in the industry and getting work on numerous films and tv shows” said Borte. “The fact that the film is receiving critical accolades only makes the entire experience that much more rewarding.”
Both Forte and Borte are from the area and live in Hampton Roads, so they wrote the script specifically to film here, Forte 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, and then resorts to more desperate measures to make ends meet.
The ODU Film Program emphasizes experiential learning experiences for our students, said David Mallin, associate professor in the Communication and Film Department, who also worked on the film.
”The co-production of American Dreamer allowed our students to learn through working on a professional movie that is having a theatrical release and worldwide distribution while earning degree credit,” Mallin said. “For a co-production partner such as Storyland Pictures, ODU offers facilities, a soundstage, modern equipment, and extensive support for entrepreneurial production partnerships. It’s an invaluable experience for the participants, and part of what makes filmmaking at Old Dominion University unique.”
Tickets for the event are $10, and must be purchased in advance online. A free ticket giveaway will also be held on the Hampton Roads show on Sept. 10.
Follow the move on Facebook and with the hashtag #americandreamer on Instagram and Twitter.