No "drought" of talent in this FDU thesis film

Film student Ivar Murd (right) looks on during the filming of his senior thesis film, “Drought,” on a sailboat in Estonia. (Photos courtesy of Ivar Murd.)

By Dan Landau

Ivar Murd made an interesting film for his senior thesis project. For starters, the film was made in Murd’s native Tallinn, Estonia. Secondly, the film was a collaboration between Fairleigh Dickinson University and the Baltic Film and Media School, a film school located in Tallinn. 

The film — “Põud” in Estonian — is a complex love triangle between two former lovers and an extravagant expat. Murd describes the film as a dramedy: “it has some dramatic aspects, but it is essentially a comedy.”

Murd began working on this film during his freshman year. “I started it during spring break,” he says. “I had the week off and just started writing. Initially, the story was very different than it is now — it progressed over time.” “Drought” progressed over time (and 14 revisions!) from an English-language film to Estonian-language film. 

While writing the story, Murd started out with the main character, a young man named Artur, who is unable to commit to a path in life. “The one thing he won’t do is act on his own,” says Murd. Instead, Maria, Artur’s ex-girlfriend, and Tomas, his boss, move the story forward through their actions. “They bring about the changes in his life and the conflict in the story,” Murd explains. 

Murd originally planned to film in the U.S., but changed his plans when the opportunity arose for him to film in his hometown of Tallinn. “The film is set on a sailboat and Tallinn is a port town, so the location was right,” he says. By working in Estonia, Murd had a chance to work with professional actors for free through an arrangement the Baltic film school has with the local actors’ guild. 

“Drought” is the culmination of Murd’s four years at FDU and its cross-cultural nature fits right into FDU’s global mission. Indeed, that global mission is exactly what drew Murd to FDU in the first place. “I was looking to study in the U.S. and I got a letter from FDU. The global aspect of FDU piqued my interest and everything about the school seemed right,” reflects Murd. 

“I have really liked it here at FDU,” he continues. “Through coming here, I have had the opportunity to see the U.S. and meet great people.” 

Now that “Drought” is finished, Murd will screen it at FDU’s Senior Thesis Night on May 7 and is also submitting the film to various European film festivals. Not one to rest on his laurels, Murd is already working on the script for the sequel to “Drought” with fellow FDU film major Isaac Leggett. “I can’t say much about the sequel yet,” says Murd. “But it’s going to be a fun adventure!” 

Feature Story from the FDU Newsroom

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