UT Students Film Hollywood-Style Production

Published: Apr 22, 2008
A 1952 Buick Special was propped on the edge of a concrete fountain in front of The University of Tampa’s Plant Hall, its front end smashed in and smoke seeping out from inside the engine. Inside, a man lay slumped over the steering wheel as a crowd of paparazzi carrying flashbulb cameras crowded around frantically trying to capture an image of the injured man.

It was like a scene out of a movie … because that’s exactly what it was. The scene was being filmed Monday as part of a trailer for a movie titled “The Right Profile” – the story of Hollywood star Montgomery Clift – directed by UT film student Christian Perkins.

“It’s kind of my big senior project, but more than that it’s just my dream,” Perkins said. “I absolutely want to be a feature film director.”

An actor who dominated the silver screen in the 1950s and ’60s, Montgomery Clift began his tragic downfall after he was injured in a car crash in 1956. In the years following the crash, injuries to the left side of his face made Clift’s right profile the preferred side for directors to shoot when filming movies.

Perkins was partially inspired to make a film about the man after hearing a song titled “The Right Profile,” by punk rock group The Clash, which told Clifts’ story.

A graduating senior, Perkins collaborated on the project for four months with students in a UT communication course titled “The Creative Triangle,” which explores the complex collaboration of bringing a vision to the screen.

In two weeks he plans to take the trailer to the Cannes Film Festival in France, in hopes of obtaining the necessary financing to make a feature length film.

“Right now we’re just looking for investors,” Perkins said. “We want this to be a low-budget, independent film. I’m optimistic because I think it’s a film that people want to see, and I can’t wait to make it. You really can’t afford not to be optimistic in this business. You’ve just got to put everything into it and hope for the best.”

Among the numerous students who assisted with the production were senior Tara Parian, who served as a producer, Allison Koehler and George Denison, who served as production designers and co-producers.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Tom Garrett, who teaches “The Creative Triangle,” was instrumental in securing much of the equipment and professional assistance needed to film the piece.

“Tom has really been going up to bat for us in getting equipment and personnel,” Perkins said. “He really laid the foundation for this to happen.”

Utilizing his contacts within the film industry, Garrett secured the help of a professional makeup artist, actors and extras, as well as professional film companies, who donated all the lighting, sound and film equipment.

Most notably, the entire production was filmed using a state of the art, Red One camera, provided by world-renowned cinematographer Curtis Graham.

The large-scale nature of the project demanded that the crew be provided the best equipment available, most of which was donated free of charge, Garrett said.

Having previously worked as a production assistant on several shoots in the Tampa area, the trailer for “The Right Profile” was Perkins’ first experience as a director of a large production.