‘Nero Bloom’ wins best student feature at L.A. film fest

Huntington, Ind.-"Nero Bloom: Private Eye," a film by Huntington University digital media arts film students Jason Eberly and Nathan Hartman, won the Best Student Feature Award at the Cinema City International Film Festival in Los Angeles held Sept. 10-12. "Nero Bloom" also received recognition as a finalist because it earned a score of 3.5 or higher on a 5-point scale from the judging panel.

There were 400 submissions in the Best Student Feature category and 5,000 submissions to the festival overall.

"I have made films for 30 years, and I screened 'Nero Bloom' myself," said Suzanne DeLaurentiis, festival co-founder. "I thought it was brilliantly shot. I loved the black and white, and I thought the art direction was exquisite."

"Nero Bloom" was one of four films to be featured on the festival's awards gala evening on Sept. 12. In addition, Eberly and Hartman hosted a question-and-answer session and participated in a red-carpet photo shoot.

"Personally, it's very rewarding to receive recognition from people who are involved in the film industry," Eberly said. "Also, we had countless people tell us that 'Nero Bloom' held its own against the bigger-budget films with bigger names. Suzanne DeLaurentiis, festival founder and 30-year filmmaker, built this festival to allow young, up-and-coming filmmakers to get exposure. The festival's mission is what helped us out professionally. I probably handed out more than 20 business cards and had great conversations with other filmmakers, financiers and festival coordinators."

"It's wonderful to have recognition from artists who have simply watched your work and enjoyed it," Hartman said. "As 'Nero's' first festival, I see this as a great start and hopefully a good omen of things to come."

"I have known from the beginning that this film was special and that it would do well in festivals," said Dr. Lance Clark, associate professor of communication and executive producer of "Nero Bloom." "It's a great honor for these two young filmmakers, our live-action program in digital media arts, and for Huntington University in general. We are starting to put Huntington on the map when it comes to live-action filmmaking. I think this is only the beginning for this film and other films coming out of our digital media arts program - both in live action and animation."

The plot of "Nero Bloom" involves a young private eye named Nero Bloom who is hired to follow a down-and-out gambler. Everything seems business as usual until the gambler winds up dead in a hotel elevator, and Bloom becomes a suspect. With action, suspense and seduction, Bloom must travel a labyrinth of clues to reach one twisted ending.

The film premiered at Cinema Center in Fort Wayne on May 8 with a red carpet extravaganza. The black-tie event featured the cast and crew of "Nero Bloom" shuttled in period cars and walking the red carpet into the first showing of their film. Following the private premiere was a reception at Artlink.

The 45-minute film has several Fort Wayne area connections. Jason Eberly, the director and producer of "Nero Bloom," is a Fort Wayne native. Bethany Edlund, a Huntington University junior who plays "Veronica St. Claire," hails from Roanoke, Ind. Dana Christy Minnick ("Barbara Lomax") and Darren Turney ("Brute") both reside in Fort Wayne. Dr. Lance Clark, Huntington University associate professor of communication and executive producer of the film, is also a Fort Wayne resident. Screen writer and producer Nathan Hartman is from nearby Berne, Ind.

In 2008, the Cinema City International Film Festival was rated one of the "Top 25 Film Festivals" by MovieMaker Magazine. The festival's board members consist of top industry professionals, as well as Oscar-winning writers and producers. Each submission is screened and is not only a candidate for exhibition at the festival but is also considered for in-house production.