DEAD DAD, a comedic drama written, directed, produced and starring mostly Florida State University School of Theatre and Film School graduates, makes its world premiere at the Enzian Theater at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 16, during the 2012 Florida Film Festival in Maitland, Fla. A second showing is set for 9:15 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, at Regal Winter Park Village 20.
DEAD DAD was created by friends and former FSU classmates who stuck together after graduation from the FSU College of Motion Picture Arts, heading to Hollywood, Calif., to immerse themselves in their passion for film making. With limited means and an abundance of passion, they devoted their free time to completing the film and bring DEAD DAD to life.
DEAD DAD, which posits that “the perfect goodbye doesn’t exist,” is one of 167 films selected from 1,706 entries, representing 31 countries. It is one of 27 films making world premieres at the festival, which runs April 13-22, 2012, in the Orlando area. In addition, the festival will feature five North American premieres, two U.S. premiers, 34 East Coast premieres and 50 Southeast premieres. DEAD DAD also is one of 20 feature competition films eligible for up to three awards each: a Grand Jury Award for best film in that category, a Special Jury Award given at the jury’s discretion for exceptional achievements, and an Audience Award determined by audience votes.
The competition narrative feature film, directed and co-written by talented newcomer Ken J. Adachi, tells the story of estranged siblings, Russell (Kyle Arrington), Jane (Jenni Melear) and their adopted brother, Alex (Lucas Peterson), who must deal with their father’s remains after his unexpected death. Though a stubborn and proud group, they are able to agree on one thing: nobody wants to keep the ashes. With little guidance and a lot of resentment among them, the three must work together to achieve a proper goodbye. The man who split the siblings apart brings them closer together as they discover what it means to be a family with their dad.
“Creatively, the goal was to tell a story about our generation and the inherent estrangement that often exists among family members,” said Adachi, who graduated in 2009 from the FSU Film School with a Master in Fine Arts in production. “Our hope was to touch upon those small and seemingly insignificant moments that make us love and hate our family members, those moments that make us wonder, ‘How the hell did I come from this family?’”
Adachi’s short film “Picture Day” won a prestigious College Television Award in 2010. He said that while working primarily in short formats, he developed an urge to complete a feature length film. DEAD DAD is his feature film debut.
Arrington, Adachi’s co-writer and one of the film’s stars, has written short films and plays seen across the country and was a finalist in the National Ten Minute Play Contest at Actor Theatre of Louisville. He currently is a researcher for “House, M.D.,” on FOX.
Producer and DEAD DAD actor Ben Hethcoat’s collaborations have screened at more than 50 film festivals worldwide. At the 2011 Cannes International Film Festival, he was recognized as a rising filmmaker by the American Pavilion for his short “Waking Eloise,” a zomb-rom-com. He heads the media department for the Slamdance Film Festival. Producer Kelly Calligan’s collective experience includes working with Penny Marshall and on such projects as Showtime’s “The United States of Tara” and Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Production was funded through private investments and a successful Kickstarter campaign and embodies the independent filmmaking spirit. It was shot in Los Angeles, San Diego and Southern California during nights and weekends over the course of one month.
Florida State University Film School graduates:Director/Writer: Ken Adachi (MFA, directing, film production, FSU ’09)Writer/Actor: Kyle Arrington (MFA, screenwriting and playwriting, FSU ’09)Producer/Actor: Ben Hethcoat (BFA acting ’10), Orange Park/TallahasseeCinematographer: Eric Bader (MFA production, FSU ’09)Executive Producer: Adam Varney (MFA, film production, FSU ’09) Executive Producer: Jason Ambler (BFA, film production, FSU ’09)Production Designer: Morgan Hall (BFA, film production, FSU ’09), Oviedo and Fernandina Beach