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The Lake Theatre hosted the Oak Park premiere of Love.Blood.Kryptonite (LBK) last Tuesday, a film written, directed and filmed by students at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

As the last of the credits scrolled down the movie screen in theater No. 7 at The Lake, the audience cheered the gritty independent drama written by OPRF senior Matt Mitchener, 18, and co-directed by Mitchener and Kristopher Rey-Tally, 19, a senior at OPRF last year, now attending New York University’s film school.

The cast, crew and extras on the film included OPRF students as well as professionals. The film also had screenings last week in Park Ridge and Highland Park.

The Lake Theatre screening was packed, and the audience included the filmmakers, crew, cast members and investors. The film was shot over 19 days last summer with a final budget of $40,000.

It tells the story of Jimmy Donovan, a high school student who sells marijuana to pay for his 6-year-old sister’s tuition and his cancer-stricken mother’s medical bills. He eventually is drawn to selling heroin and gets mixed up with the wrong crowd.

The premiere concluded more than a year’s worth of work for the young filmmakers.

“Seeing it with the score and sound mixing, and seeing it in a big theater like this is a completely different experience,” said Mitchener after at the Lake premier. “The hardest part in watching it is just wondering what everyone else is thinking. It was nerve-racking because you don’t know what [the audience] is thinking.”

From the reactions of the crowd throughout, most seemed to be engaged by the film.

At this point, it does not carry an official MPAA rating, but is assumed by the filmmakers to be an “R” because of the depiction of language, violence and sex.

The film was produced by John Condne, an independent film producer and film instructor at OPRF, who said this film was the most professional product he’s worked on in his career.

“These kids, specifically Matt Mitchener, who put in a ton of time on this project, learned so much, as did I, from this process.”

Mitchener is currently writing his next film, which Condne will produce. Mitchener also served as an editor on the roughly 100-minute LBK, and said he learned a lot from the experience.

“There’s one cut in this that I thought was all right, and I let it go and now it’s coming back to haunt me. So I learned to never let those ones go.”

The lead role of Jimmy was the last and most difficult to cast, Mitchener said. The role eventually went to actor Alex Goode, who complimented the young filmmakers on their professionalism.

“To be honest, nothing about this film was high school or amateur in any way,” Goode said. “The product is not by any means on a high school level. This is professional in every way.”

A personal reaction to L.B.K.

The film Love.Blood.Kryptonite looks as good if not better than many indie and/or low-budget films released.

As a film buff, I’ve seen my share of films-big budget, small budget, mainstream and independent. LBK does not suffer by comparison. The acting was strong, and the direction was fluid.

The shot selections and editing were the most impressive. The use of hand-held and steady cameras, and a brief slow-motion sequence involving a character smoking a cigarette were nice touches.

It had the gritty look of an early Martin Scorsese movie, and the witty dialogue of a Quentin Tarantino film. The filmmakers may not be at quite those levels yet, but the movie shows promise and skilled filmmaking.

-Terry Dean

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