Film festival June 11-15

By Andrew Knittle

Transcript Staff Writer

A recent University of Oklahoma graduate and a professor at the university will get some screen time next week at the eighth annual deadCENTER Film Festival in Oklahoma City.

Recent OU grad Royce Sharp's films "Deus Ex Machina" and "The Breakup of a Happy Marriage" will play at deadCENTER, although the 25-year-old filmmaker, who makes a living shooting commercials for Mathis Brothers, said "Breakup" was much more personal.

"I found out I had testicular cancer right before I turned 22," Sharp said. "After that, my friends and I would sit around making 'ball' jokes all night, but after they left, and I was alone, I'd be like: 'Damn, I have cancer. This sucks.'"

"Breakup" is filled with visual metaphors regarding the loss of "one of a pair," and features Sharp walking around parts of Oklahoma City and Norman carrying a huge yellow ball, a symbol of his phantom testicle.

"The film is more or less a funeral for my right testicle; it was kind of cathartic in a way," Sharp said. "The film kind of represents everything that was going on in my head at the time. It really walks the line between being funny and going the other way and being serious."

Sharp's other film screening at deadCENTER is "Deus Ex Machina," a Greek phrase that describes the improbable resolution of a plot during a story. "Machina" is a comedy about a guy and his moustache and was produced with local filmmaker Walker Robins.

"'Deus Ex Machina' was very easy to make compared to 'Breakup,'" Sharp said. "'Breakup' took a lot more time to make. A lot of pre-production went into making that film."

Both of the films are short -- "Breakup" is six minutes long while "Machina" comes in at just under five -- and a lot of what was shot had to be dropped during editing, Sharp said.

OU art professor Bob Dohrmann said he put more than a month's worth of work into his deadCENTER film, "Rebus Riot," a video montage created using Photoshop, Adobe After Effects and Apple's GarageBand audio software.

"My style is non-linear, non-narrative," Dohrmann said. "'Rebus Riot' is not really a story. It has elements of a story, but it's not really a story like most of the other films at deadCENTER. It's really more concept-based."

"Rebus Riot" is a cartoonish film with a "quirky adult theme," he said, and features phrases that don't make any sense to the average viewer.

"It's really not supposed to make sense. I did that on purpose," he said.

Dohrmann, who moved to Oklahoma from the West Coast in 1999, said he doesn't create films for money or fame.

"I don't seek financial results from this work I do outside the classroom," Dohrmann said. "In fact, as a professor, I'm required to do research. We're expected by the university to be making and showing our work continuously."

He does, however, enjoy watching people react to his films.

"It's fun to watch the audience's reaction and usually they don't even know you're there," Dohrmann said.

Both men said they plan to keep making films and Sharp said he plans to enter "Breakup" in other festivals in the near future.

deadCENTER is expecting more than 6,000 people this year and is set to kick off Wednesday at the Film Exchange Building in Oklahoma City's Film Row. The festival will run until Sunday at various locations around downtown Oklahoma City. Awards will be doled out Saturday night.

"It's not a real 'Hollywood' or even an 'independent' film festival, which I kind of like." Dohrmann said. "The festival gurus have done an endless amount of work and they've done a great job creating excitement around it."

For a full schedule of deadCENTER screenings and events next week, visit www.deadcenterfilm.org.

Andrew Knittle 366-3527 aknittle@normantranscript.com

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