November 12, 2002

Indie film to be shot at U of C

Producers are looking for extras for an independent film that will be shot on campus this week. The film, Dark, centers on an African-American student who attends a fictional elite university.

"We were looking for a school and institution that just from its look it has a very Western feel," said Greg Cooke, one of the producers of the film. "It embodies Western thought. That was important to us as far as an aesthetic appeal. The school also represents a very high level of academic endeavor."

The main character, played by 23-year-old Jason Bonner, lives on the South Side of Chicago and attends the university.

"The two worlds are vastly different. One is of opportunity and thought and the other is urban," Cooke said. "The story is his search to move through both of these worlds—the neighborhood and the school—and to try to make some sense of his life."

"It's a coming-of-age story," Cooke said. "He's 21 years old and people have expectations that at that age, you're supposed to be a man or a woman and you're supposed to make decisions that are going to affect the rest of your life, but he really doesn't have those answers yet."

The crew is currently looking for 100 extras for ten scenes this Wednesday through Friday. Shooting will begin each day at 9:30 a.m. and will last five hours. The shoots on Wednesday and Thursday morning will begin at the Botany Pond, while on Friday morning, a scene will be shot at the Divinity School.

In addition, the crew will shoot a scene Thursday afternoon in Harper Library from 1 p.m. until dusk and another one Friday afternoon in the Divinity School dean's office beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Cooke said that the company could also use interns to help with various aspects of production. "People can come out for two days, three days, just to see what it's like. The space is available," Cooke said.

Cooke and screenwriter and director Daryl Bullock have been working together since 1994 in Bronzeville Filmworks. They have made music videos and commercials for Sears Home Life Furniture, Domino's Pizza, and Tampax, among others. Dark is their first feature film.

Cooke, a graduate of Tennessee State University, said that the character grew mainly out of his and Bullock's own experiences as African-Americans on predominantly white campuses. After finishing the screenplay, the pair found Cheeseburger Productions, a Chicago-based group, to help foot the $250,000 bill to make the movie.

Production of the 102-minute film is scheduled to end on December 14.

"We're planning on going the festival route and looking for a distributor through studios," Cooke said. "We're anticipating that we should be done with the post-side of it—music, editing—by early January to be ready for Sundance at the end of January."