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Press Release

Jonathan Potts

For immediate release:
October 25, 2005

Carnegie Mellon Professor's Film "Dumpster" To Get First Screening at Three Rivers Film Festival

PITTSBURGH—"Dumpster," a feature-length film written and produced by Jim Daniels, director of the Creative Writing Program at Carnegie Mellon University, will premiere at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, November 5, at the Melwood Screening Room in Oakland as part of the Three Rivers Film Festival. The film also will be screened at 9 p.m.

"Dumpster," directed by John Rice, was shot primarily over Easter weekend on Carnegie Mellon's Oakland campus, and cost about $10,000 to make. It is a poignant yet humorous film that tells the story of a university custodian, Jim (Jeffrey Carpenter) who befriends a troubled college student, Francis, (David Conrad) living in a Dumpster outside a campus building. As Francis wrestles with a series of crises—some real and some imagined—Jim struggles to build a life for himself, his live-in girlfriend and her small son.

Conrad, a Pittsburgh native whose film credits include "Return to Paradise" and "Wedding Crashers," became friends with Daniels several years ago after hearing him read poetry at a cabaret night at the City Theatre on Pittsburgh's South Side. Earlier this year, when Daniels wrote a screenplay, he shared it with Conrad, who loved it and helped to get the film off the ground by casting it with his friends from the Pittsburgh theater community.

"It was naïve in a way that people are afraid to be naïve," said Conrad, who currently appears on the CBS television series "Ghost Whisperer."

"It's like a fairy tale meets a working class day-in-the-life, and I just thought that was really kind of cool and strange, and I thought how cool it would be to do this without any kind of tricks. It's hard to maintain a sense of mystery without any kind of technical tricks," Conrad said.

The movie speaks to the clash of cultures in Daniels' adopted hometown of Pittsburgh, where universities and hospitals have replaced steel mills as the region's dominant employers, as well as Daniels' own background having grown up in a family of Detroit automakers.

"It brought together two of my worlds. A lot of my writing, poetry and fiction, has been about class issues. But I've been working at Carnegie Mellon since 1981 and the university is a major part of my life," said Daniels, the Thomas Stockham Baker Professor of English.

"Dumpster" is the second film that Daniels has written. His first, "No Pets," was filmed in 1994 and was based on one of his short stories. "Dumpster" marks the directorial debut of Rice, a Pittsburgh cinematographer who was the director of photography on "No Pets."

"No one's going to make any money on this. I think a small budget is better in a way because you have more freedom," Daniels said. "We had fun. If you're not going to enjoy it, why stay up all night? It's the latest I stayed up in 20 years."

Tickets for "Dumpster" cost $7 and can be purchased at the Pittsburgh Filmmakers Office at 477 Melwood Avenue in Oakland. For more information, call 412-681-5449 or email Jim Daniels at


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