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Steve DumanSteve Duman

Idaho's Next Spielberg? Young filmmaker wins award to make film

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When you've got 24 pictures per second, you can really say a lot. That's what budding filmmaker and former Hayden, Idaho, resident and Coeur d'Alene High School honor graduate, Steve Duman, has discovered. Duman, a junior at Willamette, recently debuted his new 22-minute film, "The Sad Truth," before an enthusiastic crowd at the University's Hallie Ford Museum of Art.

"I like films with stories that can't be told without images," he says. "I want to create stories that need the film experience to get the whole story."

Duman, a rhetoric and media studies major, applied for and won a Carson Undergraduate Research Grant to fund his movie. The grant is designed to help students explore original ideas they couldn't study in a traditional classroom setting. Duman and Jon McNeill, a senior in anthropology at Willamette, proposed to individually write screenplays and then collaborate on filming them. It is the first time the Carson Grant program has funded a project that incorporates both individual and collaborative student efforts. Duman and McNeill, two of only nine students this year to win the prestigious award, each received $2,500.

"The Sad Truth" explores the idea of truth and how people can manipulate it. Filmed in the black and white detective noir of the 1940s, Duman's story features three characters--a photographer who's obsessed with finding the truth, a detective hired to find the truth and a female model who continually lies. The photographer, who believes he's witnessed a woman murdering her lover, hires the detective to help him solve the crime. As the story unfolds, however, it becomes increasingly complicated and until no one, including the audience, is sure who's telling the truth. At the end of the film, the black and white images suddenly change to color, which Duman says represents truth being so badly manipulated that it no longer resembles truth. In the end, says the filmmaker, fantasy becomes reality.

This film, his third and most ambitious effort yet, not only honed Duman's writing, editing, filming and directing skills, it also taught him the fine art of compromise. "I had my idea of what this film would be and I thought compromising meant someone had to lose," he recalls. "But I learned to go with the flow a little more and found that the film became a product of everyone's vision. Other people's interpretations changed my vision and made the film even better."

Duman says he's shopping "The Sad Truth" around to the film festivals. Does he expect to become Idaho's next Steven Spielberg? The young filmmaker smiles at the suggestion. "Well, I'm definitely looking into film school," he says. "In the meantime, I learned that I can make something that's my own from nothing. That's an incredibly important part of storytelling."