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Drake student to show independent film at festival

Photo courtesy of Benn Isacksen

If you’re expecting just a simple romantic comedy from Shawn June, you will be highly disappointed.

“Claddagh” is a movie that uses inspiration from the Irish ring and is about so much more than love. In a Claddagh ring, the grasped hands represent friendship, the heart represents love and the crown represents loyalty. All three are brought together in the film, which is about a boy and a girl traveling down a gravel road in Iowa.

“It’s not (that) I’m just doing things. It’s very thought out,” said June, a senior. June is the writer, director, producer and lead actor for the film.

The film is made up of a cast of four, with June as Roy, Samantha Tucker as Elizabeth, Benn Isacksen as Andrew and Lex Cockman as Kensie.  June is the only current Drake student of the four participating in the film.

The team worked for about four months on preproduction, which included going over the script and obtaining all the equipment. Then there were about five days of production which consisted of 15 hour days with about three hours of sleep between them. Currently the team is working on postproduction.

The editors working on the postproduction of the film are on the East Coast and were hit by Hurricane Irene, leaving them with no electricity. They emailed the team on Sunday to inform them that the electricity is back on and working on the film will resume. The editing team is working specifically with the special effects. The movie is in black and white except for a few specific details, including Samantha’s red dress, yellow flowers, and a red journal.

“Why are these things in color? Because (that is) when we remember things,” June said. “The things that really stick out to us, the infinitive details. In the midst of the black and white we have these tangible details. These things we visually see, things that stick out. When the characters expose their heart-felt love, heart-felt loyalty that was betrayed, that is in color. You’re getting the full effect, the full blast.”

After postproduction is done, the six-month project will be complete.  The movie should be ready for the Sept. 23 deadline for a film festival in Portland, Ore., as well as the five or six other festivals the movie has been accepted into.

Submitting the video to various film festivals will hopefully be a good way to gain publicity and become more known in the film industry, according to June.

“Just getting my presence known and renowned,” June said. “Doing what it takes to get recognition. Doing what it takes to show that my style is different. And people saw that with my second film, that my style is very unique.”

June’s first film didn’t get into any festivals, but he won most distinguished director in Orlando, Fla. His second film was entered in seven festivals and won four awards and two grants. In Austin, Texas, he won most distinguished director and most distinguished story. In Portland, Ore., the film won most experimental film and honorable film selection. These awards allowed June to earn an automatic entrance for “Claddagh.”

Isacksen said the film is unique enough to capture the hearts of a diverse audience.

“It’s so very real,” Isacksen said. “It’s surreal, but at the same time watching it, it’s not just another romantic drama. It’s something that especially someone our age, even younger and older, can appreciate as ‘this is life.’ I think that it will have an impact of people.”

Currently, June and Isacksen are working on another movie.

“My work is never done,” June said. “I can’t just stop and let things happen. If I want to make things happen, I have to go out and do it. It’s not going to be given to me, I have to earn it.”

“Claddagh” was funded by June with help from Drake University, Starbucks, Jimmy Johns and Subway.  June said the film should appeal to many people because anyone can see themselves in it.

“Guy or girl, whether (you are) in (your) teens or in college, or after college, or even 40 years old, I can relate to that, I have grown from that,” June said. “It makes me appreciate the love, the loyalty, the friendship, the people in my life more. I appreciate more.”

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