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Professor writes screenplay for short film

October 3, 2013

Assistant Professor of English and faculty advisor to the UW-River Falls student literary magazine “Prologue” Joseph Rein has recently acquired an interesting accolade. Rein’s screenplay, “15 Minutes with Jacob,” was made into a short film this year.

The film focuses upon the attempts of young journalist, Miss Smith, to reach into the inner workings of the serial killer Jacob Gilroy’s mind.

Assistant Professor Joseph Rein recently had his screenplay, “15 Minutes with Jacob,” made into a short film. He would like to see the short film screened at UWRF.
Assistant Professor Joseph Rein recently had his screenplay, “15 Minutes with Jacob,” made into a short film. He would like to see the short film screened at UWRF. (Meghann Witthoft/Student Voice)

Unfortunately, Gilroy is scheduled to be executed the following evening. Smith’s goal is to prove wrong the findings that Gilroy’s victims were killed at random, as well as find out why he turned himself into the police. As the official synopsis of the film states, ‘She has “15 Minutes with Jacob.”’

Joel Clark Ackerman plays Gilroy. The character was meant to be a cross between Hannibal Lector and Dr. House. This goal-combination leads to an intriguing and frightening character. Other cast members include Kim Cottom as Smith and Aubyn Philabaum as Rebecca.

“15 Minutes with Jacob” is a crime-related, dramatic short film that is roughly 15 minutes long. The time of 15 minutes is the generally accepted length for most short films. In the screenplay world, where one page of dialogue is equivalent to one minute of content, it is often hard to achieve a 15 minute screenplay because of this equivalency.

According to Rein, the first draft of this screenplay was 26 pages long. It took many draft changes to shrink the script down to the acceptable size. The 15 minutes standard also appeared to be an apt time as the film begins with the line, “You’ve got 15 minutes.”

The crime thriller that is “15 Minutes with Jacob” is not Rein’s preferred genre. In truth, the idea for the screenplay was not Rein’s own.

“I have never written anything like this before,” Rein said.

He viewed this screenplay as “an escape” from his normal writing. His friend and director of “15 Minutes with Jacob,” Nino Aldi, came to Rein with the idea but was unsure how to pursue it.

Rein then began to write drafts upon drafts of the script. The final script that was used for the shooting of the film was draft No. 16.

Rein has had many works of poetry, fiction and essays appear in over 15 journals, including “The Pinch Literary Journal” and “Beyond the Workshop.” However, Rein described the experience of having his screenplay turned into a short film as an entirely different experience.

“It’s entirely different when you see your writing acted out as a screenplay because your words are taken a different way,” Rein said. “There are different levels of interpretation.”

According to Rein, his first time was not the most enjoyable experience due to the many changes made to the screenplay in the process of shooting.

However, the more he watched the movie, the more he began to appreciate the movie as a whole rather than focusing upon the changes that had been made to his work.

The screenplay is currently being submitted to film festivals around the country. It has already been shown at the Action on Film International Film Festival, where it was nominated Best Score Short and Best Composition, and has also been selected to play at the ITSA Film Festival in North Carolina.

“It’s really cool to see it chosen by film festivals but it’s also a bit maddening because I can’t be there,” Rein said.

Rein hopes that “15 Minutes with Jacob” will be chosen by a more local film festival so that he would be able to see the reactions of an audience that is not connected with the film itself. Unfortunately, while the film is being submitted to these numerous festivals it is not available to be viewed by the general public as a requirement of the process.

Rein is looking into having a screening of the film here at UWRF; however this has yet to be discussed with producers.

The film itself has also made waves on campus. It has inspired Rein to create a special topics course in screenwriting that will be offered this coming spring.

The course is mainly set for English and Creative Writing majors but Rein is hoping for an overall crossover with other majors such as Theatre Arts.

One major goal Rein has expressed of this course is to bring the experience of script writing to the classroom in an interactive way. “Anyone see a movie this weekend?” would actually be an appropriate discussion point in this course, Rein joked.

The short film “15 Minutes with Jacob” is an interesting accomplishment of Rein and has had an impact upon the campus. “15 Minutes with Jacob” certainly will have more than 15 minutes of fame in this year.