Full Sail’s Film department has produced a lot of great student work in a variety of different genres, but romantic comedies have been rare.
“Comedies – romantic or otherwise – are a rare find in film school,” says Richard Dine, a Film Final Project Lab Specialist. “A good comedy is a special blend of good writing, excellent execution, and really good timing on the actors’ part. The director has their hands and head full to really make it all come across to the audience the way they see it in their mind. All of this is coupled with the concept that what is funny is a very subjective thing.”
One student crew was up to this comedic challenge. The end result: Force Majeure, a rare, well-made romantic comedy that premiered back in 2009.
“I find it frustrating how serious films and shorts are nowadays, so I really wanted to write something fun with a happy ending,” said Jensen Lee, Film grad and Force Majeure‘s writer and co-director, along with grad Eliot Johnson. “I’m also inspired by John Hughes films like Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club.”
Force Majeure tells the story of Harper Davis, a quirky twenty-something who spends his afternoons at the library pining over young librarian Nancy Bert. He decides to reenact scenes from her favorite book, Force Majeure, to try to get her attention. Eliot describes it as “romantic comedy with some fantasy elements.”
The three-day shoot took place on one of Full Sail’s soundstages. The crew was able to get more than 3,000 books donated from a library in Winter Park, and they built several shelves to create the realistic-looking library set. It was Jensen and Eliot’s first times working as co-directors on a project.
“The crew at first was a little scattered, but through the process they came around and ended up working quite well as a team,” says Richard, who served as the film’s producer. “Having two directors is a challenge for any filmmaker, especially when it’s your first narrative piece.”
“You have to make a lot of compromises,” says Eliot, who currently is developing his own science fiction web series. “And you have to be flexible because it’s not just your picture, it’s their picture as well.”