Kent Grads make Cleveland Film Festival Debut
Dustin Lee and Jon Jivan premiere "20th Century Man" Wednesday at international festival
A dream comes true tonight for two Kent State University grads who've longed to see their work on the big screen.
Dustin Lee and Jon Jivan will attend the premiere of their short, silent film 20th Century Man when it's screened at the Cleveland International Film Festival tonight with several other short films.
Lee, who wrote the film's screenplay, said it started about five years ago when he got the idea while listening to a piece of classical music composed by Howard Hanson. Lee said he liked the piece, Second Symphony, so much he went and bought a copy and listened to it over and over.
"And in my head I started hearing this story of a guy who builds a time machine and travels too far into the future," Lee said. "I really can’t explain how I just pictured that story. Music kind of inspires me to come up with these ideas."
The second and third movements of the piece became the silent film's soundtrack. To view the trailer, click on the image attached to this story.
Lee worked on the piece with his friend, Jivan, who also works along side him as a videographer for Kent State's marketing department. Jivan said he knew he wanted to help Lee on the project as soon as he heard the storyline.
"I was thrilled because I love time travel movies," Jivan said. "Back to the Future is my favorite series. I was real excited that he had this idea and he wanted me to help him out with it."
Filming took place about a year ago mostly on the Kent State campus while students were off on spring break. About 15 friends and acquaintances of Lee's helped out with production and acting roles. Lee directed while Jivan served as director of photography. Editing of the short film, which runs about 14 minutes with credits, finished in late June 2011.
Lee, 27, graduated from Kent State in 2007 with a degree in electronic media production. He lives in Garfield Heights. Jivan, 28, lives in Cuyahoga Falls and graduated from Kent State in the same degree field in 2008.
Lee said they didn't decide to submit the film to the Cleveland festival until his friends who helped on the project saw a preview screening and encouraged him to do so.
"The film would not have happened without that group of people," he said. "It was just really great to be able to finally make the film that was sitting around in my head for four or five years."
Jivan said they had tried unsuccessfully several times to get the short accepted at other film festivals.
"We were kind of depressed that people weren’t really showing the film," he said. "And when Cleveland announced they were accepting us we were ecstatic."
The acceptance in to the Cleveland festival led several other festivals to invite the men to submit their film for free.
"I’ve never had that happen before," Lee said.
If they win top honors at the Cleveland festival, the film would automatically be included for Oscar contention. 20th Century Man will be shown with a grouping of other Ohio short films starting at 9:45 p.m. at the cinemas at Tower City Center in downtown Cleveland.
Both men would like to venture into feature film production, but Lee conceded feature length films take a lot more money and time.
"We’re not quite ready for that," he said. "But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
Jivan said they'll continue to work on short films with the goal of creating a feature film out on the horizon.
"It’s a great honor to be in the Cleveland International Film Festival," Jivan said. "I definitely never foresaw being in it."