Students return from Cannes Film Festival

COURTESY // Mary-Madison Baldo

Baldo and Bretow walk the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival of 2015.

The Cannes Film festival is something that many young aspiring filmmakers can only dream of. This dream became a reality for Sonoma State University senior Mary-Madison Baldo and graduate Alex Bretow.

During the Spring 2015 semester, both Baldo and Bretow received a letter acknowledging two of their films, “Snake Eyes” and “Rampage.” Both films were discovered by the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, through the Campus MovieFest of 2014. As one could imagine, being accepted into the Cannes Film Festival leaves one with opportunities that may have been unimaginable.

Both Baldo and Bretow were able to meet many directors, producers, financiers and movie fanatics such as themselves. Although storytelling was something Baldo always knew she wanted to do, she was never sure about filmmaking until the past few years.

During her freshman year at Sonoma State, she was introduced to directing and writing her own screenplays. Since she was fairly new to filmmaking, the acceptance to the film festival came as a total surprise- to the both of them.“[The acceptance] was life changing without question,” said Bretow.

Since meeting with different producers, Bretow has been to France to discuss a feature length film based on one of the shorts that they showed.

He was also given the opportunity to work on a 25 day production of a film starring James Franco.

With all of the work involved, also came play. The two were able to have experiences of a lifetime enjoying the festivities of Cannes. The two filmmakers walked the red carpet among some of the world’s biggest celebrities. Both agreed that being able to watch other films was one of the most exciting parts of the trip.

“I was so inspired by every movie. I swear I was leaning forward in my seat during most of them,” said Baldo. Along with the films, they were able to bond over late night karaoke and dance into the morning hours.

The two co-creators of Baldo-Bretow Productions are currently coming up with more projects to work on. They are currently embarking on a new genre-- romance, which is quite the change from their two horror films that were so well-recieved in Cannes.

Since the Baldo-Bretow team has been together for some time now, they both agree that they are able to open up to each other creatively. When asked about any solo projects in the works, Baldo’s response was simply, “Always.”

“Madison is definitely a creative force to be reckoned with. I have never met anyone else with so many ideas and a strong passion for each of them,” said Sean Tadlock, a senior communications major and friend of Baldo’s, I remember one time I proposed a basic outline for a short film and she turned it into something I didn’t know it could be.”

It does not just stop at film making for Baldo. She is also an avid poet. From the time she was in elementary school she has been writing not only poetry, but short stories and novels as well. She also enjoys drawing, reading, and singing. 

Eric Dittman, a senior philosophy major says, “Her biggest flaw is that she’s almost never willing to turn down anyone asking for help. She always manages to make time for everybody,” said Dittman, She’s the most kind-hearted person I know.” 

 Bretow says that no project is ever truly solo. It takes many people to come up with a masterpiece. “I do have a few solo projects in the works. With a good writing friend of mine, I’m co-writing a feature script at the moment, and the story truly gripped me, I’m very proud of how it’s turning out,” said Bretow.

Both Baldo and Bretow agree that without SSU, they would have not have met each other, or the many people who helped contribute to their success. “Sonoma State University has taught me about communication, collaboration, and creativity,” said Baldo.

The two agree that, for the short amount of time spent at the Cannes Film Festival, the quality of what the two have learned and accomplished will follow them for the rest of their lives.

Baldo’s one hope for the future is not about film and storytelling, but to find happiness and personal peace.

“Perhaps I will find this in filmmaking and directing, which does bring me a great deal of joy. Perhaps I will find it in back in the artificial pages of Microsoft Word, where dozens of my stories lie, waiting to be polished and played with,” Baldo said. “Perhaps I will find it teaching, a passion that I have yet to fully explore. Perhaps it lies in something I have not yet discovered or thought of. The future is an unsure place, and I look forward to figuring mine out.”

As for Bretow, he hopes to grow as a filmmaker and businessman. He wants his business to become known for its particular style and he is hopeful that this style will be known to millions of viewers in the future.

Along with working with Baldo, Bretow also works for SSUTV and is excited for the group’s future endeavors. The station now has a new website and growth in online broadcasts. They will also be broadcasting live sporting events, an episodic series, and new films.

With Campus Movie Fest coming up in on Oct. 7, Bretow wants people to know that it is a lot bigger than most think. It is the largest international student film festival in the world, and is a rare opportunity to broadcast filmmaking talent to other students who are passionate about filmmaking as well.

The top four films from Sonoma State will move on to compete in the Hollywood Film Festival, which shows films from around the world to compete for top prizes. This includes workshops with top industry professionals, and can lead to networking opportunities with some of the best filmmakers in the business, similar to that of Baldo and Bretow’s experience.