In the Kort of comedy

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter
Film and Video major Greg Kort

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter Film and Video major Greg Kort

Tara Aday

As the semester winds down and graduating seniors look to polish their resumes in search of job opportunities, one Grand Valley State University senior will be able to direct employers to the big screen for his work history.

Film student and Clinton Township native Greg Kort recently added first assistant director of “Horizontal Accidents,” GVSU’s student summer film project, to his list of productions.

The darkly comedic film, which premieres April 7 at Celebration Cinema North, tells the story of two modern-day grave robbers and a tragic suicide that sets off a chain reaction of events eventually leading one of the thieves to reevaluate his life.

As first assistant director, Kort was in charge of everything in the production phase from organizing the shoot schedule to maintaining order on the set. The position is one that Tom Castillo, screenplay writer for “Horizontal Accidents,” said is often least liked by crewmembers.

This was not the case for Kort.

“First assistant director is normally the person that everyone hates on the set,” Castillo said. “But Greg went in well-liked and came out well-liked, so that must mean he did something right.”

Doing something right includes taking a film with a relatively small budget – less than $25,000 – and turning a screenplay into something that few could identify as a student film.

“Overall, I think the shoot went really, really well, amazingly so for a student film,” said Tom Seidman, the film’s director. “I think the entire GVSU community will be pretty impressed with what we pulled off.”

Echoing crewmembers’ opinions of Kort’s ability to direct while remaining well-liked, Seidman said his laid-back demeanor, which never got ruffled, made him a wonderful assistant director.

“Plus he has a wicked sense of humor, which helped to relax the crew — and me — over our long shooting hours,” Seidman said.

Among other involvements in the Grand Valley community, Kort is a three-time winner of Last Laker Standing and co-director and co-producer of GVSU’s LipDub.

Lucas Flora, the film’s second assistant camera and Kort’s roommate, joked about his ability to motivate a large group of people through his sense of humor, whether it is on the set of “Horizontal Accidents” or the stage for Last Laker Standing.

“He duped a whole lot of people into voting for him for Last Laker Standing three years in a row,” Flora said. “That takes some talent when you’re as untalented as Greg is.”

Although Kort hesitates to say his films have a specific style, those who work with him see a refined sense of humor in his comedy productions.

“A lot of the dialogues in his films are really witty,” said Chris McGraw, film student and wardrobe manager for the film. “It’s not the funny, hit-you-in-the-face fart jokes — it’s smart jokes.”

Kort said his comedy and film are two things that are not necessarily related.

“I don’t do either one because of the other one,” he said. “I think comedy is where I naturally go with anything I do just because I love to laugh, and I love to make people laugh.”

For Kort, film — whether writing, producing or directing — is where he would ultimately like to be, but that does not mean stand-up comedy cannot be his means of getting there. He said people tell him stories all the time about B.J. Novak’s transition from stand-up comedy to writing for NBC’s “The Office.”

“(Novak) did a stand-up set, and after the set, Greg Daniels (director and writer of “The Office”) came up to up to him and said ‘I love your set so much, do you want to be a part of this new project I am working on, the U.S. version of ‘The Office?’‘” Kort said. “Stand-up may be my way into the film industry. They say all the time that is more who you know than what you know.”

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