Friday, July 19, 2013

"My Friend Hugo"

Photo by Nancy Chester

In the midst of promoting my newest short film, Nadine, I have also been working on another short film, My Friend Hugo. This film, however, has a longer history. I wanted to fill you in on the latest and provide a little background about how the film came about.

It was the summer of 2007. I had just purchased my new camera, a Sony PD170. Hungry to begin a new project, I was actively searching for subject matter. By chance, I ended up going to a Polo match not far from my home, held nearby in Harford County, Maryland.  I had never been to a Polo match , nor had I been around that many horses. Once there, I found the experience exhilarating.

Everything about the game of polo was new to me. It was a world I had never given my attention, other than maybe seeing a still picture or two, or catching a quick glimpse on television. As I sat there watching the game that day, thrilled by the action, one player caught my attention. His name is Hugo Pasten, a semi-professional polo player from Chile, who was at that time playing for a local team.

Hugo was mesmerizing to watch. For me, he clearly stood out among all the fine players that day, and by game's end, I had found my subject matter for a new film. Convinced I had nothing to lose, I walked over to where Hugo was resting and introduced myself. I explained to him  that I was inspired by his performance that day and asked if I could make a documentary about him. Hugo only paused a few seconds before saying yes. Though we didn't know each other, it was a very quick and easy agreement. All felt right. We talked for a while before Hugo resumed playing. As he rode onto the field, I stood their watching and thinking about my next move. I was off and running.

Throughout the the summer and Fall of 2008, I followed Hugo around to his games and visited him at his home on the farm where he trained and groomed the horses. But after months of filming, I had decided to shelve the project. Unexpectedly, my course changed.  I began diving into a feature-length documentary, The Skeptics In A World Of Their Own, about a garage band from my home town in Frederick, Maryland. This was something I didn't want to pass up.  It was a chance opportunity that fell into place and I was very excited about the project (See my early Blog entries, beginning on February 14, 2011 . The Skeptics In A World Of Their Own was followed by The Flow Of Forsythe (2012) and Nadine (2013), all of which I had the fortune to premiere at the Frederick Film Festival.

Now back to My Friend Hugo. Soon after beginning the documentary about The Skeptics, I lost interest in the film about Hugo. Then in the summer of 2012, I changed the film's direction. It was no longer going to be a documentary. I then began shooting some new scenes.

I'm very pleased about the film's direction and how it's turning out. Currently, it runs around 22 minutes and I'm fine tuning the edit, plus awaiting some music for the soundtrack from a friend, Brian Forsythe. Brian composed the music for the documentary about his father, The Flow Of Forsythe. If all goes as planned, I should have my first cut this summer.

Until my next posting, keep the coffee flowing, my friends.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Thank You Frederick Film Festival!

I would like to thank Walter Chalkley and associated staff, especially Stacy Budd, of the Frederick Film Festival F3 for such a great time this past weekend. The festival was great. I loved the experience and it was much fun seeing the other film entries and meeting so many really cool people associated with the films.

                              With Walter Chalkley                                                                     Photo by Nancy Chester

My arrival on Friday at the festival started off on a good note. I was greeted by television reporter Shayna Halper of WHAG-TV and briefly spoke with her about the festival: Festival Brings Local and International Artists Together .

On Friday, one of the first films I saw was Nextnik, but I'll discuss that later. That night, the highlight, for me, was John Krulik's, Led Zeppelin Played Here, a documentary about discovering the truth about whether the newly named band Led Zeppelin played at the Weaton, Maryland Youth Center on January 20, 1969. While there is no documentary proof the band played there, the circumstances surrounding the event, and the fact there are eye witnesses, provide much food for thought and decent case the event took place. For the record, after viewing the film, my opinion is the Led Zeppelin did play there. If you get a chance, check out this film and decide for yourself. Nonetheless, a worthy documentary about an iconic band during its first U.S. tour.

The after party at Frederick's downtown restaurant, Brewer's Alley, was fun. I mingled and met some really cool people, talking about their films while soaking in some good music provide by Hard Swimmin' Fish, who were dynamite! Very cool, they were.

Saturday was the screening of my film, Nadine:


I'd like to thank all who attended the screening and I appreciate all your comments. As I mentioned in the WHAG-TV interview, I always try to premiere my films at the Frederick Film Festival. Though I live in Bel Air, Maryland, Frederick is home for me. I'm certainly happy I was given the opportunity to present Nadine at this year's festival, making it my third year in a row.

Saturday morning I attended the local high school competition. Had a fun time seeing the ten films selected. Lots of talent out there. The competition was judged by The Blair Witch Project Director Eduardo Sanchez, and the winner won a Professional Sony editing software package. Not bad. It's the same editing software I use. 

While I was unable to attend Thursday night's screening of Eduardo's new horror film V/H/S/2 at the Weinberg Center, followed by a Q&A, I was happy to get a chance to hear him speak before the young filmmakers about his experience. He was friendly and supportive of their work and made himself available for their questions. I, too, was able to grab a moment of his time and exchange a few words. Very cool guy. I wish him the best with all his upcoming projects and really dig the fact he stays local and films around the Frederick area. Currently, he's trying to obtain permission to shoot a new horror film at the abandoned Fredericktowne Mall. Good Luck, Eduardo! I hope this happens.

                      Eduardo Sanchez                                                          Photo by Nancy Chester

Saturday evening marked another highlight for me with the screening of Erik Greenberg Anjou's documentary, The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground, followed by an amazing performance by the band. Presented in the majestic ambiance of the Weinberg Center (an experience in and of itself), I was introduced to this band and was blown away by their music and musicianship. The band has been around for a quarter century, and while I admit I've never heard of them, discovering their story and music has left an indelible mark on me, one that's tickled my soul. Their music should be heard and shared by all, no matter what your background. In essence, their music speaks to the hearts of us all around the globe. 

                                                                                                                                 Photo by Nancy Chester

As mentioned, I met some really cool people at the festival, but there were two who stuck out: Rick Kain and Dan Franko. Both are accomplished actors and they are very friendly and grounded. They both live in Frederick area, opting out of the Hollywood grind, and are very enthusiastic and passionate about their acting. Both were very generous with their time and they spoke at length with me about their experiences in film and television. I hope to see more of their work in the coming years. 

In short, Rick and Dan are great guys who are genuine and I had fun spending some time with them. In fact, on Friday I got the chance to watch Rick star in Michael Kravinski's latest film, Nexnik , screen that afternoon. I really enjoyed the film's story - something many of us can relate to nowadays- and got to see Rick's acting chops in action. Nice job, Rick!

   Dan Franco and Rick Kain                                                                                     Photo by Nancy Chester

So ends another fun Frederick Film Festival. Again, I'd like to thank Walter Chalkley for putting on such a fine gig and let him know that I - and I'm sure all this year's participants - really appreciate all the hard work and time he and all the other associated staff and volunteers put into making this festival a must attend event. 

I'm already looking forward to next year's festival and my fingers are crossed that my new film, currently being edited, My Friend Hugo, will meet the grade and get selected for screening at next year's festival. More on this film later.

In the meantime, I'll be submitting Nadine in other festivals around the country. Wish me luck.