May 26--Matt Stanasolovich was in third grade when he saw "Million Dollar Baby." The gritty movie starred Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood.
That moment changed his life.
"That was the first time I thought that I wanted to be a filmmaker," he says. "Since then, I've taken the steps to make my own films."
Stanasolovich, who will be a senior at Sandia Prep this fall, has recently finished his first feature film, "When I Get Out of Here." The film will be shown at The Guild in September. Meanwhile, he is promoting his film through social media websites.
"When I Get Out of Here" runs one hour and 20 minutes. It tells the story of a social pariah, Reece Shelton, who, after several failed science experiments, decides to go in search of a river creature that supposedly lives in the Rio Grande.
Shelton, played by classmate Bryan Morreale, plans his conquest out, down to the smallest detail, in hopes to prove or disprove the "Cabezon" legend. When his quest finally begins, it starts to become more and more evident that he isn't on this quest for glory, but to get away from his mind and his own personal problems.
Slowly, over the course of the film, Shelton begins to lose sight of what's a dream and what's reality, of what's a memory and what's a hallucination. His world slowly begins to unravel.
"The first part of the film is like a twisted version of 'Into the Wild' or 'Stand By Me' mixed with a little bit of 'Bellflower,'" Stanasolovich explains. "It's very outdoorsy and grounded. The second half of the film is more along the lines of 'The Master.' It becomes a chamber drama where Reece must smother his demons and become a 'better' person. The latter half is wild and plays more like a bizarre fever dream."
Stanasolovich has been working on the film for nearly two years and filmed a lot of the movie along the Rio Grande in 2012.
"I got the idea for the film in the summer of 2011," he says. "There was a camping associate who would tell me these stories of creatures and it all came to me."
In addition to directing the film, Stanasolovich also wrote, produced and edited the film. In fact, there were 25 drafts of the script -- all handwritten.
"It was a lot of work, but I had a clear vision of what I wanted to get across," he says. "Because I handwrote all of the script, I had to keep all of the notes in perfect order because it was just me working with them."
As Stanasolovich is looking forward to his senior year at Sandia Prep he is eager to start looking at colleges.
"There's no doubt I want to study film," he says. "I'm excited to check out all of the programs that are offered and maybe one day I can be a filmmaker who makes a difference in that medium. I have big dreams and want to follow them."
Stanasolovich says "When I Get Out of Here" is just the beginning.
He wants to keep making films and he'll be trying to get the film screened and maybe take the film in the festival circuit.
"The sky's the limit and I just want to provide great entertainment for an audience," he says. "The same way I was moved by watching 'Million Dollar Baby,' I want to move others that way."
The Instituto Cervantes is presenting Cine Magnifico! beginning Thursday, May 30 through June 2. The festival is New Mexico's only film festival presenting Latin cinema. It will screen contemporary documentaries, short films and feature films about Spain, Latin America and Latinos in the United States. In doing so it promotes intercultural awareness and celebrates the diversity of Ibero-American cultures throughout the world.
"New Mexico is poised to become an internationally renowned locale for Latino cinema," explained Milly Castaneda-Ledwith, co-founder of the festival and cultural events coordinator for Instituto Cervantes. "We've designed the festival to build on New Mexico's expansive heritage and emerging film industry -- two features that provide a platform for engaging contemporary filmmakers to bring their work to Albuquerque."
Opening night will kick off at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 30 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center's Bank of America Theatre with the acclaimed "Blancanieves/ Snow White," a black-andwhite silent drama that draws upon the Brothers Grimm and the tale of Snow White. For more information about Cine Magnifico!, including festival pass and pricing details, visit www. cinemagnifico.com.
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If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.
Matt Stanasolovich's trailer for "When I Get Out of Here" can be viewed at youtu.be/3xF7oM1BTPU
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