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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Student miniseries premieres

‘Salvage’ explores college vices in dark drama
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Many scenes were shot during late-night filming sessions on campus, often lasting from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

After more than seven months of late-night guerrilla shootings, script writing sessions and meticulous editing, senior filmmaking duo Brian Mohsenian and George Bicknell finally saw their idea become a reality.

“Salvage,” the pair’s passion project, turned independent study, debuted online Sunday. “Teenage Wasteland,” the first installment of the seven-part mini-series, is a dark, unsettling,  surreal mystery-box of an episode—a pile of puzzle pieces. The show can be viewed on teir Facebook page.

It’s a project Mohsenian, a senior in the College of Communication, and Bicknell, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, devoted all their free time creating something tangible out of their imaginations. It’s difficult for Bicknell to get through a whole sentence describing their work without mentioning the “huge scope” they wanted it to have. Now, finally, the two have something to show for it.

“It’s surreal but also refreshing. We’ve been so busy over the past two semesters, we really haven’t had much time for other things we’ve potentially wanted to do,” Mohsenian said. “It’s really nice for people to realize ‘Wow, this is what you guys have been working on. This is why you haven’t had any time’.”

As big as their ambition has been for the show, their expectations have been even bigger. Outside of their outspoken desires to be the most ambitious project to ever come out of Marquette, the two had a more immediate, measurable objective of reaching 1,000 views on the first episode by the time the series had ended. In three days, it had garnered nearly 800 hits, putting them well on-track to vastly out-perform their initial goals.

“When we were writing, we didn’t think that anyone at Marquette had ever made what is essentially a two-and-a-half hour feature,” Bicknell said. “We wanted to take a step beyond, and push ourselves here. And now, our goal had been 750(views) by the end of the week, and now we hit that in three days.”

Filmed on campus and the surrounding Milwaukee area with a cast and crew comprised entirely of members of the Marquette community, “Salvage” aims to explore the seedy underbelly of college vices, with some stylistic tricks pulled right out of the film director David Lynch and “True Detective” playbooks.

It’s a tone and mood they love in film, even though they know it’s not for everyone.

“I think it’s good we unsettle,” Bicknell said. “The most important thing a filmmaker can do is provoke, make provocative work. I’d rather have people love it or hate it. A bad response is better than no response.”

The premiere may have given the pair a chance to gain satisfaction, though they spared little time to catch their breath. For now, it’s back to late-night filming sessions—often starting at 11 p.m. and ending around 2 a.m., in order to accommodate the cast and crew’s busy schedule—as well as putting the final post-production touches on the new releases looming within the next few days.

Tanner Burke, a Marquette Theater alum, local actor, and close friend and collaborator of Mohsenian and Bicknell, has been perhaps their most vocal proponent since appearing as one of the leads in “Salvage.”

“I’ve worked with people ranging from professionals to students, and on so many projects here at Marquette. And I can for sure say what they’re doing is more than I’ve seen any student do. Their ambition and dedication truly plays off on the camera,” Burke said. “You can really tell, from beginning to end, a high level of professionalism. Nine times out of ten, a viewer will say that there’s no way this came from students.”

His empowering advice on set help the two set the tone for production, and his enthusiasm for the project is as grand as his enthusiasm for its creators.

“I keep telling them this: ‘you guys are the directors, we’re the actors,” Burke said. “‘We don’t look good unless you look good. If there’s something you want to do, it doesn’t matter how long it’s gonna take, every little step is gonna make the image look better’.”

With the show finally winding down, Bicknell and Mohsenian are starting to look ahead at future projects. Tired from the mystery genre, the two hope to reunite the crew this summer for a small-scale short film. Until then, the two half-jokingly remarked they would like to win the Marquette Student Film Festival—though with the drive and ambition they have, it’s hard to believe they were joking at all.

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