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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Editor's Note: In the online film "Barackula," the Barack Obama character is not a vampire.

An online film inspired by presidential candidate Barack Obama that features vampires dancing to funky music is gaining Internet popularity.

Gavin Leighton, a UF alumnus, helped create and produce the Internet video that debuted on President's Day. The short musical film, titled "Barackula," tells the story of a young Obama becoming a vampire to overcome the pressures of Harvard Law Review students. The film is allegorical to Obama's campaign, Leighton said.

The film's Web site, www.barackula.com, received much media attention, with MTV Networks first previewing the film on Super Tuesday. The video was also mentioned in the MSNBC program "Hardball with Chris Mathews."

The film was shot in only two days at a friend's home in Pasadena, Calif., using a high-definition digital camera that was donated by another friend, Leighton explained.

"It's been kind of a miracle project in the sense that we've gotten so much support and attention," he said.

In 2002, he earned a bachelor's degree in theater and psychology. He stayed at UF for graduate school and earned a master's degree in management in 2003.

Leighton, who composed the music for the video, first wrote the music on his guitar and then added other instruments like piano and horn to give the music its funky sound.

"It was really fun, and it was all done in my one-bedroom apartment in L.A," he said.

Justin Sherman, who plays young, Ivy League Obama, wrote the lyrics for the musical numbers. Leighton also has a small role as Robert, a Harvard vampire who provides some comic relief. When Sherman originally wrote the script, there were no vampires or music, Leighton said.

"I don't know what happened, but it slowly evolved into something with vampires," he said. "And if you're going to have vampires, you might as well have song and dancing."

The film is meant to entertain and get people interested in politics, he said.

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"Kids that aren't into any presidential candidates might be into a vampire musical," he said.

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