News Column

Albuquerque Journal, N.M., Reel N.M. column

September 1, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 01--Two years of hard work is coming to fruition for Stephen Griffin and David Spence.

The duo -- who went to film school together at Florida State University -- will have their feature film, "Roswell FM," open the White Sands International Film Festival with a pre-screening on Wednesday, Sept. 4 in Las Cruces.

Spence wrote the film, while Griffin directed it.

The comedy follows Jay Rathbone, played by Brendan Fehr, who quits his dream profession as the host of a paranormal radio show in order to take a higher-paying job to pay for his oddball nephew's college tuition.

"Roswell FM" was, of course, filmed in Roswell as well as Artesia, where the bulk of the radio station scenes were shot.

The film also stars Brian Tee, Jason London, Don Stark, Kevin Farley and Mirelly Taylor.

"We were fortunate to have such a great cast on our first film," Griffin says. "Mark Medoff really helped us get in touch with the right casting director and that's why we were able to get the cast that we did."

Medoff is a playwright and filmmaker based in Las Cruces.

Spence, who was raised in Las Cruces, says it was a bit intimidating going on set with a slew of professional actors.

"All we had done before were student projects in film school," Spence says. "This was the first time that we had professional actors in front of us. I have to say that they were the greatest to work with."

The crew filmed for about 22 days in 2011 and the film finally wrapped up postproduction in May.

Spence says it feels amazing to have the film completed because at times it felt like it wouldn't ever get done.

"We had an idea of how things would go and we set deadlines," he says. "Since we did this all independently, those difficulties of making independent films crept in. But we finished it and it's really good."

The pre-screening at the WSIFF will mark the first time an audience has seen the film.

Spence says the festival sought them out because WSIFF Artistic Director Ross Marks had seen a rough cut of the film about a year ago.

"Being that I'm from Las Cruces, I've been able to build a great relationship with the festival," Spence says. "When the festival came calling, we decided this would be a great way to roll out the film."

Spence and Griffin don't have a distribution deal yet, but have gained some interest in the film.

The pair moved out to Los Angeles recently to market their film and other TV projects.

Griffin says the duo's first mission is to market and get "Roswell FM" into film festivals and they looking for a buyer for the film.

"Another thing we're doing is that we're in the process of turning the film into an animated TV show," he says. "The TV show has become a big part of our plan."

During the editing process, the filmmakers were surprised at how much footage they shot -- nearly 50 hours. It made the task of getting the film to 94 minutes a hefty task at that.

"With the digital revolution in film and digital cameras, it was easier to shoot the film," Spence says. "Saying that, we also had the tendency to shoot more than we really had to. This is why we had 50 hours of footage."

The White Sands Film Festival will run through Sept. 8 in Las Cruces. For more information visit www. wsiff.com.

FIRST-TIME FILMMAKER:

Sandia Prep senior Matt Stanasolovich will screen his film, "When I Get Out of Here" at 5:45 and 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6 at The Guild Cinema, 3405 E. Central. The film follows, Reece Shelton, played by Bryan Morreale, who returns to school with a cynical attitude and low expectations. Forgotten by his parents and detached from his friends, Shelton resorts to science projects to keep himself occupied. With every new failed experiment, Shelton just sinks lower and lower into the infinite abyss that is his life. One day, he comes upon the story of the Cabezon legend which claims that an unknown river monster lays in the Rio Grande. Fascinated, Shelton dedicates himself to either proving or disproving the near 30-year legend. As he begins to search, he finds himself facing demons of the past and horrors of the future. Stanasolovich calls the film a "staying of age" film, that explores the themes of love, loss, obsession and loneliness.

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART. If you go

WHAT: White Sands International Film Festival

WHEN: Wednesday, Sept. 4-Sept. 8

WHERE: Various locations around Las Cruces

INFORMATION: Visit www. wsiff.com for full schedule of events

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(c)2013 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)

Visit the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.) at www.abqjournal.com

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