Director: Nick Louvel
Stars: Nick Garrison, Natalie Portman, Steve Guttenberg, Tatyana Ali
US Release Date: Washington, DC Independent Film Festival - March 2005
Filming Information: Filmed 2002 @ Harvard University
Plot Summary: When a Harvard undergrad tries to find out why his advisor has disappeared, he gets caught in crossfire between two investigators and a secret society called The Domino Club.
Running Time: 98 minutes
Budget: $10 000
Domino One, LLC
March 9, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Harvard Film Got Green Light from Affleck; Screening at the D.C. Independent Film Festival
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In 2002 Ben Affleck lent some Harvard undergraduates, one of whom was a family friend, a digital camcorder with which to shoot some experimental footage. Three years and 160 hours of raw stock later, the result is Domino One, a feature-length thriller set in and around Harvard.
Domino One is the story of Jason Young, a scholarship chem student who sells a designer drug of his own invention to keep his finances afloat. When he's tapped by one of Harvard's elite all-male finals clubs, he finds himself drifting into deeper water than he ever imagined. The creation of college buddies Nick Louvel, Nick Garrison and Chris Kuhl, Domino One has a massive cast that includes Steve Guttenberg, Tatyana Ali, and Natalie Portman. Portman, a 2003 Harvard graduate, plays Dominique Bellamy, the mysterious beauty who holds the key to all of the plot's intricate puzzles.
Louvel, who co-wrote (with Nick Garrison), photographed and edited the film -- says it was made for $10,000. Despite the meager budget, the film is expertly produced and affords -- in addition to suspense and bewildering mysteries -- a rare entrée into the world of Harvard's exclusive clubs, which still preserve an atmosphere of nineteenth-century opulence.
Often skipping classes and working late at night to avoid the notice of campus police, the filmmakers shot in Harvard residence houses, classrooms, athletic facilities, and even in the little-known network of underground passageways that link Harvard buildings and houses. For one scene, in which a character jumps fully clothed from a 10-meter diving platform, they hid out with their equipment in the Harvard pool building until after it closed.
"We made some beginners' mistakes," admits co-writer Garrison, who also plays the film's central character. "Every time we had a good idea we put it into the script. The first cut was almost three hours long." The final version, which debuts at the Washington, DC Independent Film Festival this weekend, runs 98 minutes, and omits a number of characters, subplots and scenes -- including the pool jump -- from the original. "We could make another movie from what we cut out of Domino One," laughs Garrison. "But it wouldn’t be as good."
Washington City Paper
March 4, 2005
Watching naked Harvard students jog by as part of a Caligula-worthy ritual, Detroit native and undergrad Jason Young (Nick Garrison) comes to the inevitable conclusion: "Smart people are dumb." And as Domino One unfolds, Young proves himself right: He's a grant-winning chemistry whiz who pulls an expulsion-worthy 2.4 GPA and is less immune to temptation than he seems.
Built around a mystery involving, among other things, a pink-tail-finned Dodge, Page 202 of an old book on shipmasters, an übersecret undergrad club, and the university's seeming determination to colonize Cambridge one ugly building at a time, the film draws from an equally wide range of sources: noir, The X-Files, Tarantino, and, particularly in Garrison's Ray Liotta-inflected voice-over, Scorsese. Director/editor Nick Louvel is confident and often creative, and his brisk exposition includes a great montage outlining the misadventures of a drug-dealing student.
Sure, it doesn't quite take a Harvard grad to guess the general direction of some plot elements-a mysterious woman named Dominique, played by Natalie Portman, and an equally mysterious pharmaceutical company called Iodom. But on the whole, Domino One does a fine job of being smart without getting too dumb in the process. -------- Joe Dempsey
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OFFICIAL DOMINO ONE WEBSITE
Washington D.C. Independent Film Festival
Washington D.C. Independent Film Festival - 2005 Schedule