We are excited to be working this spring with former Kartemquin collective members Judy Hoffman and Jerry Blumenthal’s University of Chicago’s Documentary Production class as they produce their first film. This is the first time this course has been introduced at the University of Chicago and students were given the unique opportunity to understand the ins and outs of documentary-making. What initially started as an assignment to create four short documentaries soon turned into an in-depth concentration and quarter-long project culminating in the half-hour documentary Hyphenated Humor.
Hyphenated Humor looks at culture in the “issh,” or in-between cultures, as four emerging comedians struggle to understand and express their multi-ethnic identities in America. The film follows local comedy collective Arab-issh through home-life to the stage where they use comedy to discuss their lives, struggles, and experiences in what promises to be a humorous and complex look at culture.
Gathering all the storylines together has not been easy. Judy says, “We wanted to concentrate on people who were in the issh, emerging comics who came from a variety of backgrounds.” From there, the class narrowed their subjects to four comedians who embodied what they were looking for. Khaled the Comic, a more practiced Chicago-based comic that shows mostly to a rough-and-tumble diverse inner city crowd, is brought outside his comfort zone when he joins his friend Nick to do stand-up for a more conservative, mostly white suburban crowd in Indiana. Khaled and Nick were childhood friends and recently reunited through their love of comedy and newly-shared outlooks on parenting. Nick is at the start of his comedy career, but is quickly learning from his friend and other members of Arab-Issh Jameeleh Shelo and Chris Redd.
It has definitely been a learning process for most of the crew – many of them did not come from a film background. In one school year, teams of students have been working closely with their subjects to develop their stories. Now we will help take those stories into the editing room and see them on screen. In the next few weeks, Hyphenated Humor will be in post- production and students will get to work with Kartemquin to finish their project. It’s everyone on hands before the film’s big premiere. In the past few months, Zak Piper gave a sound workshop, interns teamed up for two week-long undertaking to finish transcriptions, Jim Morrissette helped handle media organization and tech support, and Liz Kaar made some rough cuts. Finally, the tapes are digitized, the footage logged, and students are well on their way to making their final edits, assisted by Kartemqun spring '12 intern Ryan Gleeson. We are delighted to be able to see this project come into fruition.
Students will debut their film on June 7th at 7pm at University of Chicago’s new Logan Center for the Arts, 915 East 60th, Chicago, IL 60637. The screening is free and a reception follows.
Become a fan of Hyphenated Humor by liking them on facebook or follow them on tumblr to learn more about their process in making this film.