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Rowan grads produce feature film premiering at Philadelphia CineFest.

Three Rowan University alumni have produced Calendar Girl, a feature length film premiering at Philadelphia CineFest, a city-wide celebration of movies April 7-14.

The film, made on a reported budget of $25,000, features Hollywood stars Corbin Bernsen, Gilbert Gottfried and Brian O’Halloran in a “horror-comedy” genre-bender set in and around Philadelphia’s Aramingo Diner.

Director Derek Lindeman, a 2006 Rowan fine arts major, described lead character Ari as almost childlike, a young adult waitressing at a diner who comes to believe she will be the next victim of the so-called Calendar Killer.

“There’s been a serial killer: one girl a month,” Lindeman said. “What happens is the Calendar Killer, as he’s come to be known, sends a letter to the press taunting the city, the police, etc. Ari thinks she’ll be his next victim but she’s different from the rest, the antithesis of all the Calendar Girls up to this point.”

Not only does Ari think she’s the next victim, she falls in love with a guy who she thinks is the killer.

“Like I said, it’s a comedy,” Lindeman said. “It’s right around December, she’s been alone for a year, and when this loner, drifter kind of guy comes into the diner, she falls for him.”

From Rowan to the Real World

Lindeman was joined in the production by several other Rowan alumni including producer Annie Qualtieri and film editor Mike Licisyn.

Licisyn, a 2006 Radio/Television/Film major, said he developed editing chops working on a class project for Prof. Joseph Bierman.

“We made a short film called The Open Window,” Licisyn said. “It was great experience. We shot on real 16 mm color film and I was the editor and continuity supervisor. My job was to help aid the director’s and producer’s visions.”

Licisyn also built editing skills at Rowan Radio, WGLS, where he edited promotional materials before they went on the air.

“I can’t say enough about working there,” Licisyn said. “(Station Manager) Frank Hogan treats it like a station competing for Arbitron ratings, which it is. He instilled in me the belief that if something is mediocre in its production value it isn't good enough to be released.”

Licisyn also credited film professor Ned Eckhardt and others for demanding good work – and getting it.

“It’s how they run the program,” he said. “They make you act professionally by critiquing you like a professional.”

Qualtieri, a 2004 Radio/Television/Film major, said her studies concentrated on TV work but she built a group of contacts at Rowan that she relies on in her budding film career.

“Rowan was a great place to network," said Qualtieri, a producer on Calendar Girl. "I’m still friends with some people I went to school with.” 

Lindeman said though he didn’t study film at Rowan his fine arts degree has proven surprisingly valuable in his nascent film career.

“It helped build my work ethic,” he said. “In fine arts, you do it because you love it, and that’s how it is with film. If you’re going to make something that comes from your head and you hope to earn a living off it you have to have that kind of work ethic. And it also helps to be poor and I’m really good at being poor.”

Lindeman said his film does not yet have a distributor but hopes exposure at CineFest helps land one.

Go see Calendar Girl. The World Premier is at CineFest, April 11 at 9 p.m., at The Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street in Philadelphia.

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