Jennifer Tunberg ’08, right, poses with Melissa Jo Milano and Brian Havenner, her partners at Green Shades Productions, at the red carpet premiere for “Identity.”
Ask the typicaly moviegoer around the nation about the movie "Identity," and, well, it's identity was likely a secret. But that was not the case at Rave Motion Pictures 53 in Davenport, Iowa, last weekend, as "Identity" outdrew such popular choices as “Iron Man 2” and "Sex and the City 2."
The new movie has strong ties to Monmouth College, as 2008 graduate Jennifer Tunberg played a major role in getting it to the screen.
“I came on this project in May of 2008, about two days after graduating from Monmouth,” said Tunberg, who came to MC from Moline and majored in physical education while earning four varsity letters in soccer. “My mom had heard about this guy named David Clevenger who was going to shoot a local film in the Quad Cities that summer. I met with him and was brought on as the director of photography.”
Not a bad gig for someone fresh out of college with only a minor in media arts communication on her résumé. That résumé improved considerably during the summer, a result of working on the film, and it continued to improve in the fall, when Tunberg began a two-year program at Tribeca Flashpoint Academy, a digital media arts school in Chicago. After a few months of learning a lot more about the trade, Tunberg received an unexpected promotion.
“The film wasn’t finished and the original director had to leave the project, so for my spring break in 2009, the lead character (Melissa Jo Milano), her husband (Brian Havenner) and I took over finishing the movie,” said Tunberg. “I came on as co-director and editor and continued my work as director of photography.”
Tunberg soon found out just how long it takes to edit a feature-length film.
“I started the editing process on June 4, 2009, and I just finished it on May 31 – it was almost exactly a year,” she said.
Tunberg completed her task just in time, as a red carpet premiere was held for the Christian-themed film on June 3 at the theater complex, which was formally known as Showcase Cinema 53. Several of Tunberg's MC classmates were in attendance. “Identity” was shown through June 6, and plans are to take the movie on the road to a few major cities, including Chicago, as well as to a Christian film festival in San Antonio.
“It’s been quite a long journey, filled with stress and hard work, but it’s been such a great learning experience, and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it,” said Tunberg, who recently appeared on KWQC’s “Paula Sands Live” to promote the film.
The daughter of a co-owner of the popular Whitey’s ice cream franchise, Tunberg said the liberal arts education she received at Monmouth helped redefine her career goals by putting her aspirations into clearer focus..
“I realized my sophomore year that I really didn’t want to be a teacher anymore,” said Tunberg, who nevertheless decided to finish her physical education major because she was so close to completing it. “What I really wanted was to pursue my dreams of working in the film industry and making movies, so I switched over to taking more media classes. Professor Chris Goble was a great communications teacher who taught me a lot, and I enjoyed working on MC-TV with him.”
Tunberg graduated from Tribeca with a focus in film/cinematography just days before the premiere of “Identity,” an action-packed drama shot entirely in the Quad Cities.
“This film has a message that covers everyone,” retired police officer Wayne Hill Sr., who is featured in the film, told the Dispatch-Argus newspaper. “I had a great time being part of something that special.”
So did Tunberg, who hopes the special projects keep on coming.
“I hope to work on a film or two in the Chicago area this summer and then pursue another life-long dream of making my way out to California,” she said.
Maybe one day, the identity of this Monmouth College graduate will be “Hollywood director.”
More information about Tunberg’s movie is available at www.whatsyouridentity.com.