May 20, 2003

Fire Escape is in your Head

This evening, Fire Escape Films, the on-campus filmmaking group, will premiere its second longer-length narrative film, Out Of My Head, at Doc Films in the Max Palevsky Cinema in Ida Noyes Hall.

The project, created in collaboration with University Theater and funded by a grant from the University of Chicago Arts Planning Council, was written, directed, and produced by a cast and crew drawn entirely from the university community.

The film, starring such UT actors as college fourth-year Bryson Engelen and first-year Sarah-Doe Osborne, explores three days in the life of a shy 16-year-old girl living in the shadow of her enigmatic older brother. Over the course of the film, she delves into an investigation of his world, as her fantasies of intimacy and strength crash into reality.

Somewhere between a fairy tale and portrayal of adolescent turmoil, Out Of My Head was written and directed by Jeffrey C. Sousa, a third-year undergraduate and Cinema and Media Studies concentrator. Sousa was the leader of Fire Escape Films for two years, and presently organizes workshops to train the group's largely undergraduate membership.

Sousa cites filmmakers and theorists Sergei Eisenstein and Andre Bazin as insiparations, but in working on this, his directorial debut, he has learned that when it comes down to it, most necessary to being a director are good friends, respect, patience, and the trust of your actors.

Jonathan E. Cowper-thwait, the third-year producer, gushed, "They [University Theater] trusted us over the course of five months, with 40 people, in three locations, for only the second time. I had to draw largely upon my previous experiences as an improviser, but our group has grown tremendously from the experience." The University Theater and Fire Escape Films first such collaboration, the epic Haunting Pierrot's Ghost, screened last May.