Since he was a boy, DePaul student Danny Farber had always dreamt of working in the film industry. Watching and rewinding the outtakes of films like “School of Rock” or “Cheaper by the Dozen,” he always had some sense when he was young that down the line he was going to end up in front or behind a movie camera. One of his most important steps in that journey was choosing the college that would help guide him in to the industry.
“DePaul sort of came out of the fact that my parents weren’t going to let me go to school for acting — they always encouraged I had a plan B, so I took that as a sign that I should figure out what was happening off stage and behind camera. DePaul specifically came out of the location, the gear and the proximity to such a growing market place,” Farber said. “When I had orientation they just partnered up with Cinespace, an active studio lot in Chicago — the only one in the city — and DePaul had the only program in the world that allows students access to functioning sound stages alongside union professionals.”
By the end of his first two years at DePaul, Farber realized just how many doors Chicago opened for him. With opportunities to work both in and out of school, the DePaul student routinely made rounds working on both student film projects, as well as studio produced ones.
One of the most memorable projects for Farber was the opportunity to work with one of his longtime favorite artists, Chance the Rapper, for his music video to the song “Sunday Candy.”
“I landed ‘Sunday Candy’ through being in the right place at the right time. I use to intern for DePaul alumna Angie
Gaffney and she was in the office getting things prepared for ‘some artist’ that weekend,” Farber said. “I was already hooked before she mentioned who it was — my friends tease me because I’d been a fan of Chance’s since like 2012 when he wasplaying ‘#10Day’ around the city.”
The shoot not only provided Farberwith a chance to work with a mainstream artist, but also the possibility to work together with friends on a professional production.
“I am very grateful for that shoot and was happy I was able to recommend a few other students to come on set as extras as well,” Farber said. “I think I learned in that experience how much fun it was to bring my friends on to cool projectsI was involved in which sort of developed in the early stages of producing.”
Now a senior at DePaul, Farber has found himself working once again on another shoot, but this time for Chance the
Rapper’s younger brother Taylor Bennett, on “Broad Shoulders” — a 13-mintue short film based on Bennett’s acclaimed album from the same name.
“I was brought onto this project back in October of 2015 by the film’s director, Heston Charres. He actually took my position at Angie Gaffney’s company when I started missing my intern days due to other freelance jobs,” Farber said. “Heston came to me and mentioned he had pitched this idea for like, this visual album to Taylor and I’ve known Taylor since senior year of high school so I was eager to come on board.”
A senior at Columbia College, Charres found his role as director to be both a challenging and a learning process, one that focused on collaboration with the cast, crew, and musicians.
“I was focused on what I could do to visually tell the story with no dialogue.I thought a lot about how I could use the camera to help support these characters and their actions,” Charres said. “It was a very collaborative project so it took sometime blending the two worlds of musicians and filmmakers. Together we had to overcome a few challenges, especially in post. But honestly, getting to dive into the inner workings of the music world here, as well as teaching them a thing or two about our community, was one of my favorite aspects of this project.”
Serving as producer of the film, Farber has been directly involved in practically every step of the process, helping transform this album into a cinematic experience.
“Heston and his roommate Lizzi wrote the script after sitting down with Taylor on a few different sessions, talking about
what the album met to Taylor — they had to figure out how to turn that into a full
on narrative film. And as producer, it was my job to keep in contact with everyone throughout the shoot.” Farber said. “ This isn’t a music video. Part of the gig is putting pressure on our sound designer to meet deadlines, to make sure Taylor approves the poster, the new cut, the ‘new, new’ cut, I think Heston and David Hughes Jr. (the film’s editor and cinematographer) cut together somewhere between 15 and 20 versions of this film.”
With the final cut finished, and the film’s release this Wednesday, both Farber and Charres are proud of their work on the
shoot, one of their final projects before they graduate.
“The goal was to create a piece that could serve as a different experience for Taylor’s fans, while still having that familiarity of his songs, Charres said. “To me, it’s much more valuable to use the music to inspire another thought within the same theme rather than just visualizing what the music is already saying.”
“When you’re doing all of those things you don’t really have time to be nervous and when I was able to assemble part of the team it was really nice to surround myself with encouraged people. Most of what I’ve learned through connections I’ve met at DePaul I applied on this shoot,” Farber said. “I’m constantly grateful for the opportunities I’ve been blessed with.”