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Alumnus cowrites, stars in ‘Adrenaline'

You may recognize David Alfords deep dimple, shown close up, from his starring role in a recent Tennessee Lottery commercial in which he gives the keys to an RV to an elderly couple who, his character says, gave him his first truck to drive to college.

Like the dual masks of comedy and tragedy, Alfords smile and trademark dimple morph into the face of rage, fear and desperation in Adrenaline, winner of the Nashville Film Festivals Tennessee Independent Spirit Award for best film directed by a Tennessee resident.
You may recognize David Alford's deep dimple, shown close up, from his starring role in a recent Tennessee Lottery commercial in which he gives the keys to an RV to an elderly couple who, his character says, gave him his first truck to drive to college.

Like the dual masks of comedy and tragedy, Alford's smile and trademark dimple morph into the face of rage, fear and desperation in “Adrenaline,” winner of the Nashville Film Festival's Tennessee Independent Spirit Award for best film directed by a Tennessee resident.

On Thursday, Oct. 18 in Gentry Auditorium, Kimbrough Building at Austin Peay State University, Alford will be on hand for the screening of “Adrenaline.” The screening begins at 7 p.m. with a reception at 6:30 p.m. in the lobby of Kimbrough. After the film, Alford will answer audience questions. The reception and screening are free and open to the public.

According to Dr. David Snyder, assistant professor of history and president of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi (PKP), the screening of “Adrenaline” and subsequent discussion with Alford is PKP's Fall Forum for 2007. Cosponsors are the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts, APSU National Alumni Association, Office of Academic Affairs, College of Arts and Letters and the APSU Department of Communication.

In Nashville Scene's “Best of the Fest,” (April 27, 2007), Jim Ridley wrote: “To no one's surprise, one of the festival's hottest titles, Robert Archer Lynn and David Alford's ‘Adrenaline,' won the Tennessee Independent Spirit Award… ‘Adrenaline' may prove to be (Nashville Film Festival's) calling-card feature as well as Nashville's. Out-of-town critics were impressed …”

“Adrenaline” has a decidedly Austin Peay flavor. Alumni Alford and Lynn wrote the screenplay. In the starring role as Chris Thompson, Alford is never off camera. The film was produced and directed by Lynn, and the film's music and sound design is the work of fellow alumnus, Paul Carroll Binkley, who is well known and respected among Nashville musicians.
The critic for the Calgary International Film Festival wrote: “Director Robert Lynn successfully pulls off the longest continuous shot in American film history … in this white-knuckle suspense thriller.”

In the film, Chris Thompson (Alford) is a successful businessman who purchases a new carone with all the bells and whistles: hands-free phone, on-board computer, 24-hour operator-assisted helpline, called Sat-Assist for satellite guidance assistance.

He takes the new car to show his wife, Lisa, and to pick up their 10-year-old daughter, Cassie. But after he drops Cassie off for her swim lesson, his ordinary life is turned upside down.

His car suddenly stops. When he dials Sat-Assist for help, a man who has hacked into the company's network answers. Now in control of Thompson's car, the off-screen antagonist can pinpoint the car's location at all times. And he tells Thompson he has Cassie!

Thompson's unseen enemy forces him to perform a series of tasks, telling him if he fails, he will lose his daughter forever. Thompson is faced with figuring out how to escape this complex trap alive while also struggling with a moral dilemma: What is he willing to do to save his daughter's life?
A riveting and groundbreaking cinematic experience, this 90-minute nail-biter, though well rehearsed and synchronized, was filmed in one continuous shot in downtown Nashville over a three-day period. Lynn knew it was a risky venture. “It's an amazing way to allow the audience to take the ride with the lead character,” he says. “What happens to our lead happens to the audience at the same time. It can be exhausting. It should be.”
When it was time to select the cast, Lynn said, “There was no other actor to play the lead than … David Alford. He gives an absolutely stunning performance.”

The voice of the villain, Harvey, Reed Diamond is a graduate of Juilliard. He has appeared in more than 50 movies and television productions. Most recently, he appeared in “Good Night and Good Luck.” Other films include “Spider Man 2,” “The West Wing” and “Judging Amy.”

Lynn, who is president of Amylase Independent, a Nashville-based film production company, earned a bachelor's degree from APSU. Among the first students accepted into the prestigious Actors Center, he spent eight years in Manhattan honing his craft. It was there that he and Alford reconnected and began collaborating.

Alford earned a bachelor's degree from APSU in 1988. While at APSU, he worked with playwright Arthur Kopit, who recommended he pursue a career in theater. With Kopit's endorsement, Alford secured an audition at Juilliard School of Drama and was accepted on the spot. Alford received the Suria and Saint-Denis Prize for Excellence upon graduating in 1991. From 1991-94, he continued to act in the New York City area.

In 1994, he was awarded the William and Eva Fox Fellowship for the formation of Mockingbird Theatre in Nashville, where he served as founder and artistic director through 2004, when he was named executive artistic director for Tennessee Rep, the professional theatre company in residence at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

In September 2007, Alford stepped down to become the first recipient of the Martha Ingram Artist-in-Residency Fellowship for the Creation of New York at Tennessee Rep.

Besides acting and/or directing almost all of the productions by the Rep and Mockingbird (more than 50), Alford has worked with such companies as the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Nashville Children's Theatre and People's Branch Theatre.

His film and television credits include principal roles in “Existo” (Hometown Productions, Nashville), “A Death in the Family” (PBS Masterpiece Theatre), “The Last Castle” (Dreamworks) and “The Second Chance” (Sony).

With Lynn, Alford wrote, co-produced and served as principal actor for CMT's two-hour series pilot, “On Music Row,” winner of the Nashville Independent Film Festival. The duo also wrote and directed “Prisoner,” a finalist in HBO's Project Greenlight, set for release in 2007. They then wrote and produced “Adrenaline,” followed by “Havoc,” a horror/thriller.

Alford is the author of three plays: “Spirit: The Authentic Story of the Bell Witch of Tennessee,” a stage adaptation of Alan Lightman's “Einstein's Dreams” and “Ghostlight.” Currently, he is at work on a new play, tentatively titled “Clara's Hands,” commissioned by the Tennessee Repertory Theatre as part of Alford's work as artist-in-residence. He also will be appearing as John Proctor in the Rep's upcoming production of Arthur Miller's “The Crucible.”

For more information on the APSU screening of “Adrenaline,” contact by telephone either Dr. Jim Thompson, associate professor of biology, at (931) 221-6286 or Dr. Karen Sorenson, professor of French, at (931) 221-6246. -- Dennie B. Burke