SFUAD’s Final Cutz

Liam Lockhart has brought his appreciation of the horror genre to SFUAD in its last year. Photo by Jason Stilgebouer.

At the Modern University of Design (MUD), a homeless man finds a radioactive vial in the abandoned barracks behind the school. A fire starts and a zombie emerges from the flames.

Sound familiar?

This is the concept of the first feature length film produced by Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Inspired by the closing of Santa Fe University of Art and Design and the apocalyptic emptiness of the campus with only 156 students remaining, Liam Lockhart, associate dean of SFUAD and previous chairman of the Film School, decided it was time for SFUAD to create a full length film on zombies. Titled Final Cutz, the film was directed by Lockhart, who also wrote the screenplay for the film; his goal was to involve as many students as possible in the production.

For many students, Final Cutz was a rare opportunity and one that might well serve them in the future film industry they pursue. The idea to produce a slightly unconventional zombie full-length film on the budget of a short film seemed impossible at first, but with the combined collaboration of Lockhart and Claudio Ruben, producer, a plan was initiated and the film made possible.

Interviews began during the 2017 spring semester in order to find those students who would serve on the film crews. A series of classes were offered this summer, totaling 12 credits, which brought in a dozen students to work on the film. Lockhart also reached out to a number of professional crews outside the school to lead the student crews and mentor them in their respective duties.

Lockhart used the situation of the university as the inspiration for the film, starting with the fire which ravaged the barracks behind SFUAD last spring. The incident was filmed for Final Cutz, thereby kicking off the production . According to Lockhart, the film begins with the fires that recently ravaged the set behind SFUAD and continued by creating a fictional school, Modern University of Design (MUD), in which a homeless man finds a radioactive vial in the abandoned barracks behind the school, becomes patient Zero and infects the Dean of MUD. The Dean then goes on a rampage against the film students, while retaining some of his consciousness, namely his most base desire: to destroy the film students.

However, during the summer production of Final Cutz, there were few students on campus and not enough zombie/victim extras available to complete the final shots of the film. Nevertheless, working with the meager resources he had, alongside producer Claudio Ruben, the film was shot almost to its completion during the summer semesters. Only a few scenes remain, and post-production began at the start of the 2017 fall semester.

The entirety of the film was shot on the SFUAD campus, and during the summer camera crews and actors could be found crossing the campus for a new shot on the other side of the university a number of days in a row. Ruben, producer, confessed they expected rain to interfere with some shots, but the budget was so tight they were unable to produce a contingency plan if that happened. Some shots were rained out, causing them to be cut, but production continued. There were also a number of actors who dropped out last minute; however, replacements were found in a matter of 24 hours.

David Church, a senior of SFUAD and film student, served as an actor, second assistant director, and crafts service coordinator. Although there were a few bumps in the road in the production of Final Cutz, Church states, “It’s going to be a great movie.”

Lockhart is also excited for the final project, and hopes to have the film completed by April. He strongly supports all the film students involved, and believes that this opportunity will open doors in the film industry in all of the students’ futures, firstly by allowing them to be involved and secondly by allowing students to post links in their bios on the Final Cutz website to their films and websites

“We were using this an opportunity for them to self promote,” Lockhart said.

The film is up on IMDB and a second campaign for the film will most likely launch in the next month. While film still needs several more sponors in order to meet its financial goal, all participants believe in the film’s potential success and future in the Indie film industry.