July 17, 2006 | Myrna Anderson
A Calvin College sophomore is one of 10 winners of the first-ever “Create a THX Trailer Contest,” sponsored by THX, Ltd., the sound quality company founded by Star Wars director George Lucas.
“I didn’t expect to win,” says Mike Rohfling, a media productions major of “Whoa!,” the 55-second trailer he created and submitted to the contest on a lark.
Rohlfing, a St. Louis, Mo., native, learned about the contest while writing a paper on Lucas for his “American Film” class.
“We had to do a paper about an American director, and he’s probably the one I knew the most about,” he says. “I watch a lot of special features on DVDs. I have the Star Wars ones, and I’ve watched those a lot.”
While perusing the THX Ltd. Web site for material for his assignment, Rohlfing found the contest posting and decided to enter.
All entries in the contest were required to incorporate both the distinctive graphic THX logo and its resonant accompanying “Deep Note” sound, recognizable to moviegoers the world over. Because many of the company’s existing trailers were plays on the graphic itself, Rohlfing decided to direct a live-action entry.
“Whoa!” features a student (Calvin sophomore Danny Zondervan) entering his dorm room to watch a movie. When he inserts a DVD into a player, the water in his glass begins to tremble a la Jurassic Park, papers blow around the room, the THX logo launches out of the television into his face- the Deep Note in full crescendo-and then retreats, finally ripping off Zondervan’s shirt.
“Whoa!” he concludes.
The trailer took an hour-and-a-half to film and several hours to edit. Rohlfing worked with a crew of six friends on the filming, using fans and an air compressor to produce the special effects of blowing papers and Zondervan’s facial contortions.
“We wanted to make it look like it was really blowing very hard,” Rohlfing says. “I had two people shaking the couch he was on.”
After filing the trailer in April, Rohfling took his time tweaking it in post production.
“It took a while to edit it and get the logo to look right when it flew out of the screen,” he says. He submitted it by the May 23, 2006 deadline and recently found out that he was on the list of ten winners.
Rohlfing’s prize is an exclusive THX director’s chair and the inclusion of his trailer on the THX Web site. Though he isn’t sure if THX, Ltd. will use his idea in a future trailer, he’s happy to get some name recognition.
"It’s on the Web all over the world," he says, "and it’s really something to put on the resume.”
Rohfling plans a career in film production, and he likes crowd-pleasers.
"I’m not into art house movies like most film majors,” he says. “I love thrillers, thing that keep you on the edge of your seat. I love Minority Report. I love Spielberg’s movies. I love Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park, Ocean’s Eleven. I like movies that are entertaining - not ones that make you think too much.”
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