Franklin College Professor Produced Two Films Premiering at Heartland International Film Festival
Campus News

Franklin College professor of fine arts Gordon Strain announced he has produced two movies that will have their Indiana premieres at the Heartland International Film Festival. The annual festival will run from Oct. 10-20, 2019.

The first film, The MisEducation of Bindu, was filmed at Indianapolis’ Broad Ripple High School, just shortly after the school closed in 2018. The film had its world premiere on Oct. 9 at the Mill Valley Film Festival near San Francisco, and will premiere at the Heartland International Film Festival on Oct. 12. The film does contain drug use, strong language and mature themes.

Directed by Prarthana Mohan, the film centers on 15-year-old Bindu, who is desperate to leave high school and her tormentors behind. When her mother refuses to sign a form to allow her to take a Spanish test, the only credit she needs to graduate high school, Bindu formulates a plan. The film will be shown on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12, and again on Friday, Oct. 18 at 5:30 p.m. at DeBoest Lecture Hall at Newfields.

The second film, Ms. White Light, had its world premiere at SXSW in March and will have its Indiana premiere on Oct. 16 at the Heartland International Film Festival. It was directed by Paul Shoulberg (The Good Catholic). This film contains strong language.

Ms White Light is the story of Lex Cordova, a young woman who counsels terminally ill clients who have trouble letting go. While connecting to the dying comes naturally, Lex is at a total loss when it comes to dealing with everyone else. Life becomes more complicated as she struggles to help Valerie, played by Judith Light, her most challenging client yet.  This film will be shown on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14 and on Friday, Oct. 18 at 3 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12.

Both films were produced by Pigasus Pictures, LLC, an Indiana-based production company that was co-founded by CEO Zachary Spicer and COO John Armstrong, both Indiana natives. Strain is a co-owner of the company. Strain met Spicer and Armstrong, as well as director Paul Shoulberg, while attending IU. The four friends previously worked together on The Good Catholic, which was the first feature film produced by Pigasus Pictures in 2017.  

Strain’s duties on both films were broad. “Producing is everything from securing the funding to hiring everyone to making sure things go smoothly on set. Once filming is done, I then watch various edits (cuts) of the film and give notes. Then, I work with the other producers on distribution, marketing, etc. If a film is accepted into a festival, I need to attend the event and be available for talkbacks.”

Since the film Ms. White Light had three producers, Strain’s responsibilities were targeted more to the creative side of overseeing design, costumes, hair and makeup. He also served as the “handler” for actress Judith Light by driving her around and making sure her needs were met.

On the set of The MisEducation of Bindu, Strain focused on visual concepts including set design, locations, props, lighting and costumes. He also had to jump in and perform first aid after an assistant camera man became sick with heat stroke. Afterward Strain took over duties for the day while the man recovered.

While Strain involved several members of the Franklin College community in the filming, including students, alumni, faculty and staff who served as extras and stand-ins, it was recent graduate and Greencastle native Brittany Love, class of 2019, who benefited the most by serving as a full-time production assistant/intern on the film.

Although juggling a full-time teaching career, raising a family and producing movies can be demanding, Strain enjoys the different challenges that producing movies brings to his life. “It’s very fast-paced, which I enjoy. I do give up free time, which is unfortunate, but my youngest daughter loves to be on set, and my oldest daughter is now studying film in college. She’s also served as a production assistant on set.”

Strain also enjoys sharing the experience with his students. “It’s similar, but different from theatre. The best I can do is get them on set to see how different it is. I also use my experience from both theatre and film to get them thinking and learning in different ways.”

Strain grew up in Indianapolis. He received his undergraduate degree in theatrical production arts from Ithaca College in New York and his Masters of Fine Arts in scenic design from Indiana University. He has worked as a designer across the country. He serves as professor of fine arts at Franklin College and is chair of the theatre department. He also does freelance design for the Indiana Repertory Theatre, The Phoenix Theatre and Indianapolis Shakespeare Co., among others. Strain has completed several large-scale public art projects through his company, Franklin Department of Public Art, LLC. He resides in Franklin with his wife and two daughters.

For more information, contact the Franklin College Office of Communications at (317) 738-8185.

POSTED Oct 10, 2019