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Stalking a filmmaking hobby

72-hour film competition submission shows a unique twist on stalkers

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As a five-minute film at the 72 Hour Film Competition last Thursday, “Strander” stood out. Unlike most of the other film festival participants, “Strander” was not a lighthearted frolic.

“I’m always striving to do something new and unique,” explained lab-worker by day Richard Acosta, who wrote and directed the movie with his fiancée, Shelleen.

The bleakly intriguing look at a stalker and his prey — or is it, the stalker and her prey? — has the filmic look of a trailer for a horror film, but tells a complete story, with a circuitous and occasionally perplexing narrative, which was unintentionally intentional.  Is the poem in the beginning of the film, dated the date of the film festival, the murderer’s death note? Or is his voice a clue that he survives, despite what the movie alludes to showing us?

Acosta used a Canon GL2 camcorder, and modified it to create a depth of field and film-like texture. Originally the couple set out to create a full-length film, and then decided to modify that idea to meet the 72 Hour Film Festival criteria. 

“A cheesy, corny horror flick was our initial idea,” Acosta said, noting that he was getting frustrated when the direction wasn’t presenting itself. 

Then one of the actors in the movie, Dana Shepherd, suggested changing the film to the stalker’s point of view, and the movie came together in its current state.

In its current state, the movie uses editing to convey the twisted mental state of the Strander, with the actual murderous actions implied but never actually seen. There’s blood (an Internet recipe) and horror, but it’s subtle.  It’s a technically tight film; Acosta attributed his musical background (he plays in the band With Abandon) for cueing him in to the timing aspects of the editing. Shelleen observed Acosta’s attention to detail throughout the process.

Acosta credited the Internet not just for the blood recipe Shelleen found, but also for his own film training: he’s never had a single formal film class, except for what he’s pulled out of the ’net and through his own film watching.  Even the writing was “stolen” (per Acosta) from his observations of writers such as Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, among others.

Now that they’ve felt the filmmaking buzz, the pair has future plans to put together a full-length film.  Until that’s out, you can watch “Strander” on MySpace (www.myspace/withoutabandon), or you can purchase the DVD of all the 72 Hour Film Competition entries at The Grand Cinema, in the lobby, for $15. The Grand is at 606 Fawcett Ave. in Tacoma  For more information, call (253) 593-4474.

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