It's not hard to find a fledgling Orange County filmmaker. Go to any of the countless Orange County Starbucks, and you'll discover one saying something profound, like "Do you want that in a tall or a grande?"
But it is rare to stumble upon the young Orange County filmmaker who is screening his debut film in a real live movie theater—and wanting to keep that information away from the public until it's too late.
Enter Blake Reigle, who wrote, directed, produced, edited and probably catered the no-budget horror flick Beneath the Surface. The USC film school product contacted the Weekly to get the word out about his debut feature screening in his home town of Irvine. But Reigle wanted to keep that information out of the paper until the day Beneath the Surface screens and this paper hits the streets—Thursday, Sept. 21.
Politely informed that he'd alert readers sooner—and possibly draw a bigger audience—if this story appeared in last week's Weekly, Reigle explained that he does not want the public to show up. Theater seats should already be filled by the cast, crew and their families.
Um . . . okay . . . so why are you calling again?
"I'm an Orange County phenomenon," Reigle said.
There is nothing wrong with shameless self-promotion; the Weekly employs a writer or three who are proudly guilty of the same. And film festivals Reigle is wooing wouldn't want to select a picture that's already been shown to the unwashed masses.
So if you happened to pick up this paper the day it was placed in the news rack and you could make what would be tonight's screening of Beneath the Surface, please stay home or go see The Wicker Man instead.
However, be comforted by the fact that, as Reigle put it, "hordes of people want to make movies," and, despite a measly, El Mariachi-type budget ($4,500), he pulled it off.
"I grew up playing in garage bands," he said. "This is the garage movie version of a garage band."
While working as a production assistant on the Adam Sandler version of The Longest Yard, Reigle read El Mariachifilmmaker Robert Rodriguez's how-to manual Rebel Without a Crew. Reigle now considers himself a convert to "the Church of Rodriguez."
Beneath the Surface finds comic book-loving high school senior Ethan (Kyle Stanley) living behind the protected walls of a gated community. When the love of his life, Kahlah (Dominique Geisendorff), dies, Ethan suspects that her slippery, "bling generation" boyfriend, Shane (Brett Lawrence), is responsible. Ethan must enter a world he thought only existed in his imagination and comic books to bring Kahlah back to life and solve the mystery of her death.
In other words, this is a frame-for-frame remake of Sense and Sensibility.
Seriously, Reigle's film took one and a half years to make, shooting exclusively in his home town and next door in Newport Beach. In fact, he said he'll show a "seven-minute retrospective slide thing" on the making of the film and take questions from the audience immediately after Beneath the Surface screens.
Sorry you'll miss it.
BENEATH THE SURFACE WAS WRITTEN, DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY BLAKE REIGLE. AT AN UNDISCLOSED IRVINE THEATER. THURS., SEPT. 21, 8 P.M. WWW.BTSMOVIE.COM.