Q&A with Max Heller and Alessio Guerra

Sonoma State University student filmmakers Max Heller and Alessio Guerra have recently been invited to the Cannes International Film festival to have their Campus Movie Fest Jury Award-winning short film “The Vision” screened before some of the industry’s most elite professionals. The STAR sat down with these up-and-coming filmmakers to discuss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

STAR: Can you tell me how you came up with this idea? What was the inspiration behind this film?
Heller: SSU-TV gave us an announcement about Campus Movie Fest coming to Sonoma State and the opportunity that might lead to going to Cannes. We also felt that we could get a requirement fulfilled within that class producing an independent film.

STAR: Why do you think your film stood out among the other submissions to Campus Movie Fest?
Guerra: I think ours stood out because it’s hard to pull off comedy; and because it is a comedy parody about making a film, everyone could sort of relate and it struck a chord with the audience.

STAR: How did you get started making films?
Heller: As a communication major I wanted to explore all sorts of studies- radio, PR, the STAR, but taking SSU-TV last semester allowed me to find a niche and I fell in love with it. After the success of this film we produced, I’m really content right now and we’ll see where it takes me.

STAR: Can you tell me what this opportunity to travel to Cannes means to you. What was your reaction to hearing this news?
Heller: We were shocked and felt really lucky. There were over 1000 films submitted.
Guerra: Close to 90 universities (participated), and out of all of those campuses only 45 people from the top schools get to go. We are extremely fortunate and blessed.

STAR: This huge opportunity could really help elevate your careers, is this something you see yourselves pursuing post-graduation?
Guerra: I’ve always aspired to be a filmmaker and this is a dream come true for me. I really hope this moment going to Cannes will be a landmark in our careers. I hope that we get to go there and experience the film-making industry and also make connections for future possibilities. I don’t want our success to end here.
Heller: We will have an opportunity to meet a bunch of the industry’s professionals and filmmakers from all over the globe; there’s just going to be so much for us to absorb and network and that is invaluable.

STAR: Did you ever imagine your film would make it this far?
Guerra: I think that was the dream, it sounded far-fetched, but we believed in it enough that we were confident we could make it this far.

STAR: Do you guys have plans to collaborate again in the future?
Guerra: We are already making plans right now for our next video for CineNoma, the film festival that SSU-TV puts on. We’ve already started brainstorming ideas and reaching out to our crew that we did “The Vision” with.

STAR: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Heller: We’ve started a GoFundMe campaign and are looking for donations to cover travel expenses.
Guerra: Unfortunately, the program isn’t free, although we’ve been accepted and we’re truly blessed, we can’t do it by ourselves. We started this page in the hopes that friends family, and maybe others that have seen the film and would like to help us out; we would be more than gracious for any contribution. The page is called Max and Alessio’s trip to Cannes.
Heller: Right now we are looking for sponsorships as well; any local businesses that might be willing to host a fundraising event at their facility. We are aspiring filmmakers that have a vision and we want to make sure that we see that (vision) out. It would be a great opportunity for us to acquire enough funds to make the most out of this trip.