Editor’s note: This story ran in the July 2 edition of The Chronicle-Tribune. Photos by B.G. Moore.
UPLAND — After more than 18 months of planning, a local filmmaker’s project is ready for post production.
John Bruner’s “Grounded: A Short Film” wrapped shooting in Upland last week, featuring local acting talent, Taylor University alumni and Hoosier scenery.
Bruner is an assistant professor of media and film production at Taylor University and is completing his master of fine arts degree from Vermont College of Fine Arts. “Grounded” is the final project for his degree.
“The story itself works as one to be told from this area,” Bruner said. “We’re close to our base. … One of the bigger reasons (we filmed here) was just how helpful everybody around here is. That’s the heart of the story.”
Several local businesses, such as Joe on the Go, Upland Automotive and Losure’s Towing helped Bruner and the crew during filming.
The film was shot in 6K with a high resolution camera that does not process the images. Newer smart phones can record video in 4K, a much higher resolution than television shows use. Bruner said on Thursday alone, the crew filmed 1.7 terabytes, or 1,700 gigabytes, of data.
“When you shoot with the camera we’re shooting with, the images coming out of the camera don’t look special at all,” he said. “With mine, you should be able to do an awful lot with (the data) in post production. … In fiction, you do that because you want the film to have a certain look.”
Several of Bruner’s students and colleagues helped during shooting, including senior film student Natalie Francis who is the film’s producer. She said they shot the entire film in four days.
“I think Monday was our shortest day, and it was a lot of technical stuff in the morning,” she said. “Then Tuesday through Thursday were pretty long days. We took breaks and made sure the actors were comfortable. We were really happy that we finished the outside shots before the rain came. That’s the one thing you can’t plan for.”
Mark Fauser and Joann King White were cast as the film’s leads. Fauser plays a career-driven pilot, and White portrays his mother. The film takes place on a road trip, during which things go wrong and the two have to deal with trying situations as well as their relationship.
“John and I have been friends for a long, long time,” Fauser said. “He asked me to do it, and he was telling me the story, and a lot of it resonated with me because my dad was a pilot…It’s very personal for me. It’s very personal for John because it’s John’s story.”
He said Bruner based the script on his relationship with his mother, who passed away from cancer several years ago.
Fauser said he enjoyed working with Taylor students and alumni during the filming, including alumnus Tim Sutherland who is director of photography for the television series “Nashville.” Sutherland was a student at Taylor when Bruner started teaching there 12 years ago.
“Tim was a riot,” Bruner said. “He used to sit in the hallway right outside my door with a couple of friends eating lunch and it turned into eating lunch in my office.”
They have stayed in touch since, keeping up with each other’s family as well as academic and professional pursuits. Sutherland told Bruner to call him when filming “Grounded” started, and he’d be there to help. He showed up like he said he would, Bruner said.
White said the students who worked on set were incredible and gracious toward her and the rest of the cast.
“When I got involved with the group, I found out the crew was just absolutely astounding,” she said. “Such good kids.”
Francis said that watching Bruner work on “Grounded” and his other graduate school assignments has inspired her to continue learning and pushing herself to be the best filmmaker she can be.
“I’m thankful to have teachers who care enough to be more qualified. I definitely understand what grad school takes now,” she said. “(Bruner) teaches me every day in class, and he works to make us better.”
“Grounded: A Short Film” will be screened on Nov. 3 at Taylor University along with Bruner’s wife’s MFA project, a narrative film about a local non-public alternative school.
“I plan to be at the screening,” White said. “I don’t want to miss it. I will make my family come with me, including my own obnoxious son. I hope everybody likes it, but especially I hope John Bruner likes it.”