by Whitney Hale, Whitney Harder
(April 21, 2014) "LOOFO," a film directed and produced by two University of Kentucky seniors, fraternal twin brothers Ben and Zak Norton, will premiere at 8:30 pm. Tuesday, April 22, at the Kentucky Theatre. A campus premiere, sponsored by the Late Night Film Series, will follow a week later at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 1, at the UK Student Center's Worsham Theater. Both showings are free and open to the public.
"LOOFO," featuring UK students and faculty, is the Norton brothers' first feature-length narrative film. The brothers have been creating documentaries, short films and music videos for the past five years. Zak Norton has created at least five promo trailers for UK Theatre productions every year for over three years. Their projects "Ryoanji" and "Living Room Music," short documentaries featuring UK musicians, are permanent entries in the New York Public Library's "John Cage Unbound: a Living Archive" exhibit.
Tom Marksbury, documentary film producer and professor of film, creative writing and American literature who has worked repeatedly with the Norton brothers, predicts that Ben and Zak will be the Joel and Ethan Coen of the 21st century.
"Their skill, enthusiasm and sheer energy are a wonder to behold. Their abilities complement each other very well, and I am certainly anticipating what they're going to be able to do with a feature-length film," Marksbury said.
A coming of age satire situated in a world of mass surveillance, "LOOFO" centers on a young 20-something named Loofo. Presenting significant issues in the world today — mass surveillance, government corruption, global injustice and technology — with comedy, the Norton brothers hope to cause audiences to think and laugh.
A project that has spanned two years, Zak drafted the film's script in spring 2012 in a screenwriting course offered by the Department of English and began rewriting and editing the piece in summer 2013. After several more months of perfecting the script, the brothers began shooting the film in October 2013.
The Norton brothers wrote, directed, produced, shot, edited and scored the film with local Kentucky actors (many from UK's Department of Theatre), locations and crew to illustrate that great films are not only made in the hills of Hollywood but also in the Bluegrass.
"We wanted to make a professional film in our home, Kentucky; we wanted to show that Kentucky too has its share of talented artists," Ben Norton said.
"LOOFO" will be submitted to film festivals across the world including the Sundance Film Festival and the Cannes International Film Festival.
Ben Norton, a University Scholar, holds a bachelor's degree in music and a master's degree in composition, and will graduate this spring with bachelor's degrees in both Spanish and topical studies: film, television and digital media. Ben is a managing editor for and contributor to the satirical newspaper at UK, The Colonel, and very involved in environmental, economic and social justice organizations. Ben also writes columns for CounterPunch, and produces his own music through his progressive metal solo project "Peculate."
Zak Norton will graduate this spring with bachelor’s degrees in both kinesiology and topical studies: film, television and digital media. Zak has been heavily involved in the UK Department of Theatre in the past four years filming promotional trailers for main-stage productions, acting, light designing, archiving productions and creating new video content for the department’s coursework. Zak also works as videographer for UK Campus Recreation. Alongside his brother, he has had numerous short films screened across the country and is pulling from production experience on film sets in North and South Carolina this past year for his feature film debut.