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York alumnus returns to Elmhurst to shoot feature film

Ryan Ohm, 21, stands in Elmhurst's Wilder Park, where he plans to film some scenes of his feature-length film this month.
Ryan Ohm, 21, stands in Elmhurst's Wilder Park, where he plans to film some scenes of his feature-length film this month.

ELMHURST – Like most eighth graders who want to be the next YouTube sensation, Ryan Ohm and his friends used to film their skateboard tricks around Elmhurst. But seven years later, Ohm's dreams are much bigger.

The 21-year-old Columbia College film student is returning to his hometown of Elmhurst to shoot his first feature-length film.

"I guess I knew I wanted to shoot in Elmhurst because I grew up here," said Ohm, a junior at the Chicago campus. "Throughout my years here, I've sort of explored all of the secret spots and had all of these experiences, good and bad."

While Ohm has written and shot anywhere from 40 to 50 short films – many with the help of his good friend, Jackson James – he's never tackled a full-length feature. One reason is because he can't cover the costs of production and submission fees to send the final product to film festivals himself.

"It's a passion project," Ohm said. "We're not trying to make money. We're not trying to sell anything. We're just trying to do something that we all love."

The film, "Finn and the Sea of Noise," follows Finn through a summer of self-discovery, to which Ohm hopes most people can relate.

"In the beginning, he's a little lost," Ohm said. "And then throughout the film, he comes to realize what's important for him."

Still, the micro-budget film crew needs that extra funding. So Ohm has posted the project he's been writing, re-writing, casting and planning for more than a year on

On the website, anyone can contribute to the production costs of making Ohm's dream a reality. The fundraiser – which has a goal of $8,000 – expires June 16.

"It'd be cool to put Elmhurst on the map a little because I grew up here and I want to support the local art scene," said Ohm, who began interning at Motion Source, a video production house in La Grange, last summer.

Since then, he's been working at Motion Source as much as his classwork allows. The production house has been flexible with his schedule, knowing he is working on a huge personal project. His bosses have even agreed to help with some of his equipment needs for the film.

It's semi-autobiographical in nature, Ohm admits, but melded with the experiences of a lot of his friends and other people.

"There's always craziness in every town even if it's below the radar," Ohm said of the honesty he hopes to capture in the often-picturesque Elmhurst setting.

For nine days at the end of June, Ohm and the rest of the cast and crew will shoot the majority of the film. While Elmhurst residents may notice the small crew in public parks, Ohm said many scenes are in less expected settings.

"We're not just going to show the typical suburban streets, but we also have some cool spots that a lot of people who have lived here all their life probably don't know exist," Ohm said.

The unique ability of film to transport people to another world for an hour and a half is what draws Ohm to the camera.

"In the end, I want to leave people feeling a certain way," he said.

For Ohm, that's the reward – not a blockbuster profit. He calls filmmaking a lifestyle instead of a career.

"If I can keep making movies all my life, I don't really care what my day job is," he said.

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