“It started with ‘A Film,’” Alvie Hurt says. Across from him, Charles-Austin Ross and Max Marriner nod, their expressions stern. There are papers scattered across the table. A calendar with scrawled notes and circled release dates looms overhead. Thisisourfilm is a studio created, written and produced by SFUAD students Alvie Hurt and Charles-Austin Ross. The productions includes “Reel Talk with Max Marriner,” the newly released satire “Rainbows,” the short film “The Egg” and the upcoming web series “Hump Day.”
Thisisourfilm was organized from a campaign by the same name intended to raise money for the short film, “A Film,” released in early 2015. The campaign gained a dedicated following and developed into the now popular student-run movie studio.
“We all wear a lot of different hats,” Ross says. Ross, along with producing and writing, seeks out future projects from a diverse range of students among the Film Department. “I make sure it happens,” he says. “Alvie [Hurt] makes sure it’s good.”
“At the end of the day, we’re just two guys,” says Hurt.
The Facebook and Youtube popular web series “Reel Talk with Max Marriner” is the most widespread Thisisourfilm project among the SFUAD campus and finished up its first season with 18 episodes in early January. The show is hosted and written by Marriner, who was recruited by Hurt and Ross after they viewed his work in web series turned podcast, Cinemattack.
Hurt recalls saying, “We need someone to talk to the camera, and Austin [Ross] said, ‘Max. Max Marriner is the guy.’” Marriner’s vast campus connections, acquired by hosting Thursday night’s Movie Night at The Screen, flooded in viewers for the premiering web show as it explored ideas and responses to new and upcoming films and mainstream media— from analyses of structure to discussions of racial issues in Hollywood.
“Our last few videos really defined what we were supposed to be focusing on,” Marriner says. The ideas of racial inequality explored toward the end of the season paved the foundation of season two, as it will be exploring further social justice inequalities in mainstream film. “A lot of web shows don’t want to talk about these social issues because they are afraid of losing an audience,” Marriner says. “But if that’s what it takes, well, we have a voice.” Episode one of “Reel Talk with Max Marriner” season two aired on Jan. 27, 2016, starting off the new season with a dive into diversity.
In the midst of Thisisourfilm circulating through these social topics, “Rainbows,” a new web series staring Dylan Hamilton-Smith, was born. This mockumentary styled project explores through satirical means matters of sexuality, race and politics through the lives of unusual characters such as unicorns, werewolves and, in upcoming episodes, Santa Claus. The web series is primarily improvised and in the future will include both staff and students from outside departments.
Thisisourfilm is now filming its newest web show, “Hump Day.” The idea for the show was brought to Ross by students Samantha Fe and Rachel Robyn and will explore the journey of two women surviving college and going through the things not often talked about.
Hurt and Ross express a need to represent different voices through their work, even at the risk of backlash. A previous Thisisourfilm project, inspired by the short story “The Egg” by Andy Weir, received negative responses including comments accusing the two of capitalizing on disaster. The existential film explores ideas of reincarnation and the unification of all people on Earth and was released at the time of the terrorist attacks on Paris in November, 2015. Hurt recalls seeing the news plastered all over the Internet, and told Ross, “We have to release this now.”
Hurt says, “Being minority filmmakers in the industry, somebody has to say these things. Being a Latino filmmaker, whatever that means.” Hurt was born in Peru and moved from El Salvador to Mexico City to Vancouver, and finally landed in Santa Fe. Ross was raised in Saint Louis Missouri and, despite resistance from his father and a high bar set by his two siblings, made his way to Santa Fe to pursue his own happiness. Marriner was raised in the Bay Area, in a town called Walnut Creek. “Because we are from different backgrounds, we are able to make projects that are diverse,” Ross explains.
“It doesn’t matter where we come from,” Hurt adds. “It just matters where you want to be. People ask me, where are you from? I don’t know. I am a citizen of the world.”
Thisisourfilm will be previewing its next web series, “Hump Day,” in mid February.