PHOTOS: Evanston Teens TP House For Northwestern Film (BONFIRE, Pt. 1)

Jon Oliver, NU '14, directed his student film BONFIRE in Evanston as local teens rejoiced in toilet papering a willing homeowner's residence on Wesley Avenue.

Evanston actors work with Northwestern University film student Jon Oliver, '14, on BONFIRE in front of 1815 Wesley Ave. (Photo: Lauren Fan)
Evanston actors work with Northwestern University film student Jon Oliver, '14, on BONFIRE in front of 1815 Wesley Ave. (Photo: Lauren Fan)
I'm always happy to see community members working together to do good things -- but this story holds a special place in my heart.

Did you see my post on Monday about an Evanston-area house covered in toilet paper? Believe it or not, the homeowners of 1815 Wesley Avenue actually gave local students permission to TP their house – while cameras rolled – so that an ambitious crew from Northwestern University could shoot BONFIRE, a student film written and directed by Northwestern senior Jon Oliver (’14). Another Evanston residence, 1519 Greenleaf, was used to shoot the film’s eponymous bonfire scene.  

My daughter first auditioned for BONFIRE in September, which afforded me the chance to witness how an Evanston/Northwestern partnership develops. I watched as several groups in our community came together, including more than 20 Northwestern students, throngs of Evanston teens, homeowners, restaurants -- even police and fire departments -- all working together over two freezing weekends in late October and early November to bring Oliver’s screenplay to life.

"Evanston is wonderfully supportive of Northwestern student film productions, providing not only great locations, but also the local businesses have been quite generous in donating food and catering, all of which is tax deductible. Our student productions also offer training for budding young actors in Evanston and Northwestern students benefit greatly from the local talent available," said Kyle Henry, an assistant professor of film production at Northwestern. 

"In particular, I was quite impressed by the young leads of Jon Oliver's BONFIRE, whom I observed performing during an in-class directing lab," Henry continued. 

He said the film is being produced as part of the school's advanced directing sequence of classes, which include twelve student directors who are picked from a pool of applicants to produce ambitious short films during their senior year. All of the short films premiere in June 2014.

Come back to Patch later this week for two more columns on BONFIRE. Part 2 in this series shares community members' perspectives on the making of BONFIRE, and Part 3 examines the filmmakers' points of viewUntil then, here's the Kickstarter page the NU students put together to help raise funds to offset their out-of-pocket expenses (including, among other things, set insurance, props, transportation and food during shooting). 

Have you ever TP'd a house before? Why'd you do it? Were you ever caught?


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