From the classroom to Hollywood

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Sonoma State alumn Alex Bretow has made a name for himself in the film industry, most recently by producing the film “The Secret of 40.”

Sonoma State University Alumn Alex Bretow used to walk the halls of Sonoma State University like any other student - but now he is producing movies for Hollywood. Bretow was known by many throughout the communications and media studies community and Sonoma State; he even got the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the Cannes Film Festival for one of his films that won recognition during his senior year.

“The Secret of 40” is Alex Bretow’s newest movie he is the producer of, alongside director Kourosh Ahari, who also directed the noteable film “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

“Ahari was inspired by an old book he read a long time ago,” said Bretow. “He took a ritual that was supposed to be used to bring about good things, and turned it into something much darker.”

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Sonoma State alumn Alex Bretow has made a name for himself in the film industry, most recently by producing the film “The Secret of 40.”

What most do not know is that “The Secret of 40” was a book before it was a movie, and it was originally written in Farsi.

Some of the actors in the film, which released Friday, include Julian De La Celle (“Ugly Betty,” “The Fosters”), Christy St. John (“I Had Fun”) Robert Rusler, Judie Aronson and George Maguire.

In “The Secret of 40,” De La Celle’s character, Josh becomes desolate after the death of his mother. In order to cope with her death, he tries to figure out how he could potentially contact her after her death. That’s when he uses “an obscure ritual and performs it in an attempt to reach her beyond the grave.” The aftermath of the ritual that Josh had done to get to his mother “unlock unseen doors as he taps into powers beyond his control” stated Bretow.

The movie was created and filmed in San Jose and worked on by other Sonoma State University students and alumni, including co-executive director Jason Weiss and production coordinator and script supervisor Anna Luna. For Ahari, working with the cast was what he enjoyed the most.

“Bretow is very passionate which makes getting work done very easy,” said Ahari.
When creating a movie such as this, Bretow talked about the timeline of the movies production and what pieces of technology they used in order to create this three panel movie experience.
The timeline for the film began in August  and when asked how long the production of the film took, Bretow responded, “Two months. That was the crazy part.”

One of the hardest things for Bretow during the creation of this movie was figuring out how to use a new type of technology called three screen technology.

Bretow also spoke of the impact that the small, but mighty film community at Sonoma State University has had on his career. Because of the small film community at Sonoma State, Bretow helped develop it during his time as a student. Bretow helped form the current curriculum for SSUtv while his films were constantly featured at the CineNoma film festival as wells as Campus Moviefest.  

“The most valuable thing I learned as a Sonoma State University student was that hard work pays off,” said Bretow, “and the power of building relationships.”