DePaul starts indie film company to make movies while training students

DePaul University has put its resources behind “a motion picture company first and a classroom second” by launching a bona fide indie production company with the dual goal of providing students with hands-on practical experience and producing viable films for exhibition.

A mixture of DePaul students, faculty and professionals are currently shooting a 30-minute indie film, “Last Call,” under the banner of Bluelight Productions. Oscar-winning sound editor David E. Stone, who joins the DePaul faculty this winter after heading the “Ocean’s Twelve” sound department, gives the inaugural film a special cachet.

Bluelight Productions (a name bounced off of Project Greenlight) comes under the aegis of DePaul’s new Digital Cinema Program (DCP) ? the first of its kind. Instituted last January, it’s the brainchild of department director Matt Irvine. “We launched Bluelight to do serious commercial filmmaking,” said Irvine, a visual media teacher at the school’s Communications Department since 1999.

“Last Call,” written by DCP instructor Gary Novak, tells the story of Martin Donaldson, a man who comes to terms with the decisions he made in his life when he returns home to settle his father’s estate.

Irvine directs and film professional and DePaul instructor Scott Erlinger is the DP, shooting with a modified DVX 100 Panasonic camera. Veteran actors Gary Houston (“Proof,” “Fargo”) and Hollis McCarthy (“Road to Perdition”) are the stars. More than 100 local actors auditioned for the 12 roles.

DCP’s Summer One class is responsible for principle photography, from now through July 20. The Summer Two class handles post-production. Fall students continue finishing under Stone’s supervision.

A winter release and ensuing festival screenings are planned. “Our goal,” said Irvine, “is to create independent films that will be seen by a wide audience and to give our students an invaluable educational experience.”

DePaul has invested more than $2.5 million in DCP’s high-tech production capabilities that represent a convergence of cinema, technology, animation and gaming. The Program was the next logical step for DePaul, world-famous for its Computer Science, Telecommunications and Information Systems programs.

Some of David E. Stone’s credits among more than 80 films include “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (which earned him an Oscar), “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Save the Last Dance” (made in Chicago), “Training Day” and “The Green Mile.”