ALPHARETTA, Ga. - Going out to California to make movies is the dream of many film students, but for a crew of Georgians, they actually made it happen.
Marco Garcia grew up in Alpharetta and attended Chattahoochee High School, graduating in 2000 before attending Georgia State University to study film. He soon transferred to the North Carolina School of the Arts, a school that specializes in such courses.
“I wanted to learn everything about the camera,” Garcia said. “The school has an intense program.”
The cinematography program is unique in that it prefers its students to stay together while they study, going to the same classes and, eventually, working together on projects.
For Garcia, his break came when a classmate was taken off a short film project and Garcia was chosen to replace him. The film ended up winning several industry student awards. Garcia decided to take his new recognition and talent and relocate to the movie mecca – Los Angeles.
Garcia soon realized that getting that foot in the door of Hollywood was harder than he thought.
“Because of the financial crisis, studios are getting rid of their independent film divisions,” he said.
He took odd jobs in the industry to support himself and eventually landed a job shooting fitness videos to pay the bills.
But he never lost sight of his goal. He just needed one feature under his belt.
“The short film kept getting all these awards, but I knew needed a feature film,” he said. That’s how the concept for “The Ocean Black” was born.
“We decided to set it in a genre, and the best one I could think of was a horror film,” he said. “I wanted it to be more Hitchcock and suspense [than the violent horror films].”
Garcia assembled a crew of Southern expats – former classmates from high school and university as well as newer friends from the South, to shoot this new film. Garcia has worked with more than a dozen of his former classmates who have all relocated west, including the lead actor of his film, Devin Ordoyne, who graduated with him and was also in the Chattahoochee drama program.
Because they were working on a shoestring budget, big creature effects and special graphics were out of the question. They had to aim lower.
“At that time, zombies were everywhere and it’s cheap,” he said. “Throw some makeup on a zombie and shoot out of focus and you have a movie.”
At the time these thoughts were being worked out by Garcia and his team, the AMC series “The Walking Dead” was released and zombie fever struck audiences. The show grossed high ratings on cable television, breaking several records.
“That lent legitimacy to the genre,” Garcia said. “We came out with our proof of concept two weeks before ‘The Walking Dead’ aired and that definitely helped us get support.”
The proof of concept is similar to a trailer, in that it shows what the movie could be.
To help raise money for the indie film, Garcia and his team put their project on Kickstarter.com, a “cloud funding,” fundraising website that gathers small contributions from potentially thousands of people over a 60-day period to fund an artistic endeavor. With a goal of $100,000, Garcia has raised just over $3,000 with about 40 days to go.
“This is an opportune time to fund a project on Kickstarter,” Garcia said. “$100,000 is really not all that much money to make a movie.”
Garcia said his view of filmmaking has definitely changed since he packed up and moved to California to make a career out of it.
“At first, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about it. ‘Let’s make movies!’” he said. “Now, I can’t even enjoy watching a movie sometimes. I’m always picking it apart and understand it critically.”
For more about “The Ocean Black,” including the proof of concept trailer and ways to donate, visit Garcia’s website, www.theoceanblack.com.