Independent film coming to Victoria

By by camille m. doty/
Aug. 8, 2012 at 3:08 a.m.
Updated Sept. 3, 2012 at 4:03 a.m.

Andrew Disney first discovered the world of film at age 5, when his older brother introduced him to "Raiders of the Lost Ark." The movie led the Indiana Jones fanatic to his own filmmaking adventure in his backyard, using his dad's camcorder.

"I pretended that I was Mario and just kicked the crap out of random stuff," he said, referencing the beloved Nintendo character.

The 27-year-old Fort Worth native dove further into filmmaking by producing a handful of short films. His early committed effort led to his own film premiere at the Los Angeles International Film Festival when he was 18 years old.

Disney showed a streak of adventure when he made a web series on a road trip with his friend, Tyler Schwartz. The daring duo bought a used ambulance and drove across the country. Disney further honed his craft at the prestigious New York University, earning a bachelor's degree in film production and graduating with honors.

The award-winning filmmaker took his career to another level with his first feature-length film, "Searching for Sonny," which will make its Victoria debut Saturday at the Johnson's Symposium. The film will serve as a part of the fall's Victoria TX Independent Film Festival, in conjunction with the The Texas Independent Film Network, and will be screened throughout the Lone Star State.

"Searching for Sonny" centers around the directionless 20-something Elliott Knight, who attends his high school reunion and meets up with his timorous former classmate, Gary Noble, and his high school sweetheart, Eden Mercer. The crew find themselves on a quest to find their friend, Sonny.

The roller-coaster comedy becomes surreal for the main characters when real life has striking similarities to a play they performed in high school, written by their missing friend.

Disney described the film as a fun, stylish comedy noir. "It's in the same vein as 'Big Lebowski' and 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,'" he said.

The film features Minka Kelly, Masi Oka, Jason Dohring, Michael Hogan and Clarke Peters.

Disney also included web comedy celebrities Brian McElhaney and Nick Kocher, known online as BriTANick. The duo has garnered a devoted web base with more than 12 million views on YouTube.

The self-proclaimed TV junkie, Disney said he landed an experienced cast with the help of casting directors Emily Schweber and Jennifer Levy. His goal was to work with people he enjoyed watching as a fan.

"I fell in love with the idea of mixing Hollywood stars with Internet stars," Disney said.

The former honor student used his wit to create a spec trailer before the film was produced in order to get the crew to buy into his vision.

"As a first time director, you've got to convince people to trust you," he said.

Although the indie film will play on the big screen for the first time in Victoria, it has earned 13 awards including Best in Show at the Festivus Film Festival in Denver, Colo., and Boomtown Film and Music Festival in Beaumont. "Searching for Sonny" also received awards for the Best Screenwriting and Best Ensemble honors at the Phoenix Film Festival.

Jason Carney, the Phoenix Film Festival Director, commended the award-winning movie on a shoestring budget because it was an original breath of fresh air.

"It's the rare combination of good storytelling combined with humor," Carney said in a news release.

Anthony Pedone invited Disney to the Crossroads, although the two have never met. The Victoria filmmaker, Pedone, said the film is reminiscent of 1980's classics like "Weird Science" and "The Breakfast Club" because it involves young characters struggling with their identity and the things that haunt them in high school.

Pedone described the film as a loveable, campy mystery.

"It's one of the best shot films I have seen this year. The quality is brilliant and the cast is well chosen," he said.

In return, Disney expressed his gratitude for the visible support he's received on North Navarro Street. "Our first and maybe only billboard is in Victoria. How cool is that," he said.

Disney said part of the film's appeal is that it's a movie made in Texas by Texans. He said he can't wait to hang out in the Crossroads and interact with the movie enthusiasts during the question-and-answer session. Those who dare to be humored are bound to be entertained.

"This a fun-ride film with lots of exciting twists and turns," he said.



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