Not your everyday diary

BY JOSIE JONES | APRIL 08, 2010 7:30 AM

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John-Michael Rohret doesn’t give up easily. When his show “Diary of a Superhero” was cut from the University of Iowa Student Video Productions after six episodes, he decided to turn it into a feature film. And when a professor in the cinema department told him the movie was too big of a project, he continued production anyway.

“You can’t wait for a budget,” said Rohret, 23. “You can’t wait for people who want to help you. Sometimes, you even have to put your friendships on the line. You just have to get out and do it.”

Diary of a Superhero will be shown at the Cedar Rapids Film Festival at 10:52 a.m. on Saturday in Theatre B at the Collins Road Theatres, 1462 Twixt Town Road. It will also show at 6:08 p.m. in Theatre A-2 on the same day. Admission is $10 for each session, or $35 for an all-event pass. The Eddy Awards Ceremony will begin at 9:30 p.m. Saturday; it is free with any festival-ticket purchase.

The events in Diary of a Superhero follow 16-year-old Theo, a superhero wannabe, who joins a cop and a ninja to save the Earth from the threat of nuclear destruction. Theo battles a family of zombies and even goes into space.

“My stuff tends to be more about humans being pushed to their limits, and sometimes it ventures into darker things,” said Rohret, the writer and director. “I like to think of art as a way of getting to the truth. And for me, violence and extreme situations always illuminated what is important and what is the truth of being human.”

In late-February 2006, “Diary of a Superhero” made its début on UITV. The series was cut shortly afterward because it became too violent, producer Andrew Kline said.

Then, in January 2008, during his junior year at the UI, Rohret got the idea to turn “Superhero” into a feature film. The director said the movie was supposed to be the seventh episode, but he wanted to top what the TV series had accomplished.

The cast and crew began filming on June 1, 2008, the summer between their junior and senior years, and continued for 45 days. All of the filming took place in Iowa, and Kline estimated approximately 90 percent was filmed in Iowa City or surrounding areas.

Rohret took about two months off from work to complete the movie, leaving him with no income.

He even contributed a couple hundred dollars of his own toward the film but says it was something he feels was worth it.

“People blow that kind of money on a trip to Cancún,” Rohret said. “We have a movie that’s going to last for a lifetime and that made us much better artists.”

The Superhero crew is still paying off production costs, including props and costumes totaling $2,500 and a camera that cost $6,000.

In April 2009, Rohret premièred an early cut of the film to a sold-out crowd at the Bijou. The final version of the film, which was completed in the fall of 2009, will be shown at the Cedar Rapids Film Festival on Saturday, and it is up for Best Student Feature Film.

While both Kline and Rohret said they are excited about the nomination, they feel it is something that is well-deserved.

“If I don’t believe in my movie, I can’t expect anyone else to believe in it,” Rohret said.

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