Moviemaking is on the mind lately at USF, but that doesn’t mean filmmakers are a new export from the school.
USF’s fourth year in the world’s largest student film festival, Campus MovieFest (CMF), launches Thursday. USF mass communications major Sarah Wilson made headlines in 2009, when her short film “Rhapsody” won the CMF International Grand Finale at Paramount Studios.
Yet even before Wilson, films have been made by USF graduates.
The Oracle looks at four directors, writers and producers who have emerged from USF into the entertainment world.
Kurt Wimmer offers perhaps the most popular film pedigree of any USF graduate, as a successful screenwriter and the mind behind the action vehicles “Equilibrium” and “Ultraviolet.”
Wimmer graduated from USF in 1987 with a degree in art history, a move that he said left him “completely disillusioned” with art until he scripted 1999’s artwork-heist film “The Thomas Crown Affair.”
His 2002 dystopian sci-fi film “Equilbrium” made less than $6 million back of its approximately $20-million budget, but has since gained a cult following for its invention of the firearms-martial arts style “Gun Kata,” which he imagined.
Wimmer has achieved more commercial success with his recent screenplays, which include “Law Abiding Citizen” and “Salt,” and he is currently penning a “Total Recall” remake.
Though Aasif Mandvi might be best known for his work as a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” he also created, co-wrote and starred in an indie culinary comedy called “Today’s Special.”
After graduating from USF with a theater degree in 1989, Mandvi moved to New York City and struck success with his 1998 one-man play “Sakina’s Restaurant.” The production won an Obie award – the off-Broadway equivalent of a Tony.
“Today’s Special,” which is inspired by Mandvi’s play, follows sous chef Samir as he reluctantly gives up his aspirations of cooking in Paris to take over his father’s restaurant, Tandoori Palace, in Queens.
Mandvi even appeared in Filmmaker’s 2008 “25 New Faces of Independent Film” feature for the work.
Rick de Oliveira
After graduating USF in 1993 with a political science degree, Oliveira moved to Los Angeles and worked as a producer for “The Real World” and directed “The Real Cancun” a decade later.
Dubbed the “first reality feature film,” the movie followed 16 college students and their spring break debauchery in Cancun, Mexico.
Its merit as a documentary can be debated – in its quality, subject matter and that it features “The Ruins” actress Laura Ramsey – but it has since gained a few surprising fans.
Salon’s Michael Tully even called the film a “disturbingly relevant historical document” in its concurrence with the Iraq invasion.
A producer for exposes of a different sort than Oliveira’s, 2001 USF graduate Seth Keal has worked on two critically acclaimed documentaries through New York’s Break-Thru Films.
In 2007, Keal served as associate producer for “The Devil Came on Horseback,” which centers on former U.S. Marine Captain Brian Steidle and his attempts to raise awareness of Darfur genocide.
Keal continued working with directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg in producing 2010’s “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.”
He additionally handled sound and camera equipment with the film’s cinematographer Charles Miller, another USF alumnus.