Miami student to unveil first feature film
Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Updated: Monday, February 15, 2010 00:02
After 92 pages of screenwriting, 170 hours of filming and four months of editing, Miami University junior Jonathan Franz is ready to present his first feature film. Schadenfreude, the 81-minute drama Franz wrote, directed and edited, will be screened for the general public at 7 p.m. April 14 in Peabody Hall's Leonard Theatre. The film spans three days in the lives of four people, including a 17-year-old who discovers she's pregnant and a middle-aged Catholic priest battling his sexual desires. Schadenfreude translates loosely from German to "the pleasure we take in the misery of others." "I want to open up a discourse," said Franz, an interdisciplinary studies major with law school ambitions. "(The film) speaks very strongly on certain issues, and I'm proud of where it stands." Franz obtained a $10,000 research grant from Miami's Honors and Scholars Program for production, which began last fall. With a cast and crew of 43, Franz shot 12-hour days on location throughout the tri-state area for about eight weeks. Aside from two professional actors, the majority of the cast and crew were undergraduate students with little or no experience. "No one knew what we were doing except for (Franz)," said first-year Andrew Pytlik, who signed on for a leading role without ever having acted before. "He had a very specific vision of how he wanted everything to be; exactly what kind of characters these were, how to present ourselves, how to walk," said first-year Davida Popik, a lead actress. "It helped a lot." But Franz is no veteran filmmaker. He has written novellas and screenplays, but until now, his filmmaking resumé has consisted of short films from high school. "This was a learning experience," Franz said. "I've studied photography and I've written a lot, so film was a natural genesis. I wanted to bring it all together." He said he is "one of those people who always have a project." Though the film was professionally mastered in Cincinnati, Franz did most of the editing himself, spending his winter and spring breaks in the studio. "Ninety-nine percent (of making the film) was Jon," said sophomore Alicia Moreland, the film's production assistant. "I don't think he's slept in who knows how long." Franz may not be sleeping anytime soon, as he looks into taking Schadenfreude to independent film festivals and plans to begin shooting his next film next fall. "I'll make films my whole life," Franz said.