Published: July 28, 2005
Story and Photos by Brian Vandervliet/Web Editor
Kori Feener wants to
make her motion picture dreams a reality. As a senior majoring in film and media
arts, the determined 21-year-old has recently finished shooting a 30-minute
movie, It’s Personal, which she describes as a whodunit murder
Since high school, Feener has shot movies for herself and in
collaboration with others, but she says her plans for It’s Personal are more
ambitious. After her post-production editing is complete, Feener plans to submit
the project to film festivals across the nation.
“This is going to be a
stepping stone for me,” said Feener, who plans to leave for Los Angeles after
graduation to either enter graduate film school or seek her way into the world
of Hollywood studios. “I really wanted to pull all of the knowledge that I’ve
gained here into one final project. I wanted to have something really big,
something that could potentially jumpstart any future plans that I may
As the project’s writer, director and producer, Feener has learned
to be resourceful. Using props and equipment available to her as a UT student,
she shot in multiple locations throughout Tampa Bay and on campus, transforming
the Rathskellar into a seedy bar and a Cass Building office into a police
interrogation room. Unable to pay her cast and crew, Feener enlisted voluntary
help from fellow students as well as acting professionals.
She had the
fortuitous option of asking her sister, Kelli Daniels, to play the female lead.
Daniels’ acting experience includes appearances on network shows such as Gilmore
Girls and American Dreams as well as in the upcoming film Big Momma’s House 2.
The male lead was played by Giuseppe Raucci, a New York model and actor who has
had background roles in Mona Lisa Smile and Mystic River.
to find actors who are both reliable and good,” said Feener. “It was really
helpful to have people who were there to hone their craft and to be
Feener and her crew faced new challenges nearly every day.
During the last day of shooting, UT senior Jim Scott carefully balanced a camera
crane atop his Chevy Trailblazer parked in downtown Tampa. After several
attempts in the mid-day heat, the 12-foot-high aluminum crane became
increasingly less secure. Although a perfectionist, Feener calmly improvised by
using a smoother handheld shot.
Working with people, overcoming obstacles and
adjusting to changing situations are important aspects of filmmaking, said Dr.
Gregg Bachman, chair of UT’s communication department. But they are also skills
that can be applied to life in general.
“Staying on task and being
organized can positively transfer into any arena,” said Bachman, who has advised
Feener on her film. “It’s production, but it can transfer into the corporate
world as well because she’s thinking creatively and logically while problem
solving. Above and beyond that, it’s a way of working on her chops, like a
With more than 10 hours of unedited video, Feener said that
much work still looms ahead. Although she’d like to eventually earn a name for
herself, she won’t be too disappointed if her film doesn’t reach a wide audience
or achieve critical recognition. Feener already considers the film, which should
be finished by October, to be a success.
“It was a lot of work and a lot
of effort on my part,” said Feener. “I know that I’ve done a good job, so I’m
happy about it.”
Q&A with Kori Feener
What has attracted you
to motion pictures?
Definitely the visual aspect of it. I’ve always enjoyed
the composition of an image and how it looks and the emotion that you can get
from looking at that image.
Why movies instead of still
Because I like the story that goes along with it. It’s good to
have a picture that you can make up your own story to, but I feel that I can be
even more creative by adding something else to it to make it even
How has technology helped you complete a project like this?
think that we’ve come a long way in the past couple of years with the different
types of cameras that are coming out and what you can do with them. The camera
that we used was a Panasonic DVX-100A, and we put it into a mode that simulates
film. So it’s on a digital camera, but the camera makes it look as close as it
can to film, which is great.
What techniques have you learned from UT
I’ve learned a lot about the different ways to make a scene come
together. There are so many rules. You can break the rules, but it all depends
on how you do it. There are certain ways to do it, and that’s what I’ve learned
Is film directing male-dominated currently?
Yes, I really
think so. It’s really hard to sit there and think of many female directors,
well-known female directors. The only one that comes to my mind is Sophia
Coppola who I love and who has made three great, amazing films. But it’s pretty
much male-dominated. If you ask anybody who their favorite director is, they’re
going to say Stephen Spielberg or George Lucas or Martin Scorsese – they are all
males. So I’d really hope to someday break that cycle.
Because of that,
will it be difficult to break in?
I don’t think so. I think there’s actually
a market for more females out there now. Because it’s slowly starting to change.
Especially with Sophia Coppola winning an Academy Award for Lost in Translation.
I think that right now is the best time for females to be getting into
Who is your favorite director?
That would be David
Fincher. I just think that he has a really interesting way of getting his actors
to get deeply involved with their characters. If you look at Seven, Panic Room
and Fight Club, those are some great movies that are all very original and not
something that has been done before.
What’s the most difficult aspect of
making a movie?
I think that the most difficult aspect of making a film
without paying people would have to be getting everybody 100 percent involved.
Because for me, it’s my baby. It’s my project, and it’s something that’s really
close to my heart, but not everyone is going to have the same dedication that
I’ll have. So it’s really a lot of talking with people and getting them to be
invested into the project.
Do you have any tips for first-time
Definitely find people who are passionate about filmmaking.
That’s the most important thing. The second thing is just to be ambitious. Don’t
sit back and think that something isn’t going to work because you don’t have
this, or you don’t have that. Actually try to do it because it’s better to try
and fail than to have never tried at all.
Have you developed a unique
I think that cinematically I aim towards doing things to the extreme.
I like images that aren’t neatly balanced. I think that not everything in this
world is neatly balanced, so why should it be portrayed that way? I like to use
color as much as possible. I like to experiment with the different exposures and
the different ways to make images look.
What is your biggest dream?
be successful and happy with whatever I do. Whether that be directing or
cinematography or even just bringing coffee to people on the set.