Murder at Doc


Dressed for the part of indie filmmakers in corduroy blazers and knit ski caps, eight members of the team behind Crime Fiction sat for a panel talk Tuesday night before the film's screening at Doc. The crew—five graduated from Chicago and three still attend—described a project that grew bigger than they expected, culminating in a 90-minute movie shot in high-definition that premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Director Will Slocombe, AB'06, told the audience of about 40—mostly members of the student filmmaking group Fire Escape Films—that the crew's "expectations were always lower than the results." All agreed that the strength of writer Jonathan Eliot's script was what got them so far. A PhD student in comparative literature, Eliot also plays the starring role—floundering novelist James Cooper, who kills his girlfriend and then writes a book about it.

During summer 2005 the crew shot 37 half-hour tapes in 18 days—a ratio of "realistically 5 or 6 to 1," according to Slocombe. That means 5-6 hours of tape for every hour of film. One audience member asked whether the crew made any money. They laughed and another audience member piped up, pointing to producer Jonathan Cowperthwait, '07. "I was that guy's roommate and I can tell you he didn't pay his bills. We almost got evicted because of it."

Fifteen minutes before the 9:30 showing, the audience formed a line that stretched out the theater doors and circled around the first floor of Ida Noyes. The film offered several Hyde Park and Chicago shots: 53rd and Kenwood, the University of Chicago Bookstore, Kimbark Liquors, Jackson Park, orange juice from the Medici Bakery, and City Hall.

Jenny Fisher, '07

Photos: Producer Marc DeMoss, AB'03, composer David Bashwiner, producer Graham Ballou, AB'06, and producer Jonathan Cowperthwait, '07 (top); Cowperthwait, director Will Slocombe, writer Jonathan Eliot, and producer Ben Kolak, AB'06 (bottom).

February 7, 2007