Student-produced film, ‘Blunt,’ to debut in Buttrick 103


Avery Muir, Life Editor

When Vanderbilt seniors Jake Horvitz and Phil Heller met up with their longtime friend, Parker Lynch, in Brooklyn this past summer, they had a DSLR camera, an $800 budget and the ambition to make a feature length film.

After months of post-production work, their finished product Blunt will debut Friday, Feb. 8 at 7:00 p.m. in Buttrick 103

Heller describes Blunt as a cross between a rom-com and a stoner-com that, between the comedic bits, grapples with the ideas of what it means to make meaningful art, to love and to be human.  

The gap between the movie’s conception and the introspective dramedy that resulted was filled with intensive collaboration and resourcefulness. Heller explained how involved the process is from writing to casting to tracking down old high school friends’ songs that could be used in the soundtrack.

“It’s just very all-encompassing as a medium, so it was cool to kind of be thrown into that and have to just figure it out,” Heller said. “It was very much a learning experience, and that also was a big part of it for us.”

Given their limited budget, Horvitz, Heller and Lynch had to be creative in allocating their funds. They hired three actors through various online platforms, offering the opportunity to gain more screen time, and filmed over a two and a half week period where they rented a boom mic.

Though Horvitz is majoring in Cinema & Media Arts and English, Heller in English and Art and Lynch in Communications at Fordham University, they faced a steep learning curve when it came to the technicalities of shooting a feature length film.

“Over the course of the two and a half weeks of filming, we just got so much better at doing it,” Heller said. “The first day, everything went wrong. We had such high ambitions for everything that we were going to film on that day, and it just poured rain, nothing sounded good, we didn’t know what we were doing really, and we didn’t use any of that footage.”

Besides the technical adjustments they made, the filming process highlighted a tension between their ambitions and their desire to create a coherent product. Over the course of filming, Horvitz, Heller and Lynch became much more aware of what they should be doing and what they wanted the end result to look like.

After the laborious process of planning, writing, filming and editing, their focus has already shifted to introducing Blunt on the festival circuit and developing another short film. Having learned so much throughout the production of a feature length film, Heller said they feel much more confident in their abilities to tell a story.

“Our ultimate goal is to be producing movies or television or something along those lines,” Heller said. “So hopefully, you know, Judd Apatow sees this and is super down. That’s the ultimate goal. Obviously, it’s going to be a process to get to that point, but ideally that’s where we’re headed.”