Come next week, DePauw University will be the site of another film. Starting on May 13, shooting will take place at the Fluttering Duck and around DePauw’s campus for the low-budget film “King Rat,” written/directed by Henry Johnston (’14) and produced by Alex Thompson (’12).
Several students and faculty are assisting in the making of this film about life in college, although both Johnston and Thompson were skeptical about spoiling the film by giving too much plot detail.
“It's a feature-length warm-hearted and irreverent comedy about an ‘Asbury College’ senior facing his uncertain future on the eve of graduation,” said English and Film Studies professor Christine White, who is acting as a liaison between filmmakers and DePauw administration.
Thompson explained the movie more broadly.
“It's really 100 percent a movie about life, and the demands of life and the reality that where it takes us is where we must go, whether we fight it or welcome it,” Thompson said in an email.
Johnston also explained that it’s as much a drama as it is a comedy. Having graduated just last year, life at DePauw is still a fresh memory for Johnston.
“This movie was always going to be about DePauw,” Johnston said. “Every location is specific to DePauw and [was] written with DePauw in mind. Where else would we film it!?”
Both Johnston and Thompson acknowledge the influence DePauw professors had on their learning and growing as people and filmmakers.
“Almost everything that I know about screenwriting came from DePauw professors Steve Timm and Chris White,” Johnston said in an email on Monday night. “I owe more to them than I could ever give back to them...So much of my filmmaking education came from just watching and re-watching as many movies as I could. DePauw has so many fascinating characters throughout its campus that I don't think I will ever run out of ideas.”
This isn’t the first movie filmed at DePauw. White both wrote and filmed “Mud Lotus” with Jonathan Nichols-Pethick at DePauw in the summer of 2013.
“Filming in an area with so much support can make the project much more feasible,” she said in an email on Sunday. “When people lend their hands, heads and hearts to your work, they're literally making it possible.”
Several DePauw students are aiding in the filming process of “King Rat,” including Claire Halffield, Grayson Pitts, Caleb Haydock, Lilly Reed and Haichao Fangm.
“My title is associate producer, so what I’ve been doing a lot of so far is with casting,” said sophomore Claire Halffield. “I’ve been getting people to sign up as extras or for small, non-speaking roles. It’s been interesting for me to try and recruit people.”
Some actors staring in the film include Julian Hester, Bradley Grant Smith, Burt Young, Maura Kidwell and Behzad Dabu.
“It's really fun and exciting to have such a high energy activity going on around campus,” Halffield said. “Being that two DePauw alums are the two main people on this film, it also gives me hope that our degrees are worthwhile and that we can accomplish what we set our minds to.”
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for casting opportunities and more information about the film.