Junior Kevin Kunze has recurring nightmares about having laser eye surgery go awry. Though he wears contact lenses to correct his vision, he would not consider getting his eyes permanently fixed with the slightly risky procedure. “It’s not worth the risk when you count on your eyes for your future,” he said.
He’ll certainly need them for his upcoming project, his first feature length film, Id, which he hopes to start filming as soon as this month. The film will be counted as a directed study with media studies professor Melinda Stone and he will be blogging updates at kevinkunze.tumblr.com.
A media studies major and film studies minor, Kunze is a filmmaker who produced his first project at age seven. It was a short horror film starring his friends set in Stratford, Conn. where he grew up. When the tape they had filmed on was ruined after working on their masterpiece all day, they redid it the following day. Kunze said the results were much better the second time around; it was his first lesson in the laborious production process.
Since then Kunze estimated he has worked on over 150 short films, including short documentaries, dramas, animations, and paid commercials. He has had a YouTube video go viral, produced a segment for a show on Punjabi TV in India, and had films screened in festivals around the world. He was hired as a lab monitor for the USF media lab his freshman year and has been a TA for advanced film classes, usually positions reserved for upperclassmen. He also interns at Microcinema International, an independent film distribution company, and works as a resident adviser in Pedro Arrupe hall.
Now Kunze is embarking on the challenge of a feature length film, a process that may well take a year or two and brings with it obstacles not yet presented to him in the world of short films. Finding actors has been more challenging, he said, due to the longer time commitment for which they will have to sign contracts. Securing locations for an extended period of time is also difficult, especially because of the unusual settings the film Id calls for.
The film is set in an underground fallout shelter, where four friends are experiencing their own personal losses (death of parents, a stillborn baby, a runaway cat) while dealing with the possibility of the world coming to an end. It is a sort of existential thriller according to Kunze. He said, “People keep approaching me saying, ‘I don’t get it, but it seems cool.’” The important thing to Kunze is that he gets it. “I can picture the entire story without looking at the script,” he said. The themes of the film are loss and mortality, but ultimately sends a message to embrace the present instead of dwelling on past and future.
Editing is Kunze’s favorite part of the production process. “Editing is unique to film as an art form. It’s like sculpting through time.” Kunze appreciates every aspect of the process though, from writing the script to filming. “Filming can be stressful. There are always accidents,” he said. “You just hope they become happy accidents.”
In the pre-production stage, there is still much to do. Though some of his actors and locations are determined, others are not. He is still actively seeking actors, and wants to recruit students if possible. His to-do list may be full, but Kunze feels confident that the film will happen.
Kunze is attempting to work very low budget. Actors will be paid based on a percentage of the film’s profits. Props are mostly being donated or acquired on the cheap. As for the camera, Kunze recently pawned off some of his possessions to invest in his own high definition camera.
To see some of Kunze’s work, click here.