Independent film: Upon her return, this Maine-born actress found a film industry worth fighting for

First, a confession/humblebrag.

When I was recently asked to be a judge for the Maine Film Association’s first-ever 72 hour film Winter Movie Challenge, all the judges singled out a young actress named Claire Statczar. Appearing in Wolf Media WhiskeyIn the “Cinema Absentia” mockumentary, Statczar played the lone disgruntled teenage employee of a uniquely targeted experimental cinema. She spent her time manning the concession counter complaining, reading gossip magazines, and occasionally sweeping popcorn from the floor into the unsuspecting bucket of the theater’s single, unwitting patron.

Statczar appeared several times in the jury deliberations, with the young actor’s comedic timing and (as we suspected) improvisational chops earning everyone’s praise. So it was an unexpected pleasure when I received an email from Claire Statczar the next week asking if, perhaps, I’d be interested in telling the story of her Maine-to-away filmmaking efforts. and back again.

I was, and if I had to apologize that “Cinema Absentia” didn’t win the Winter Movie Challenge (it was definitely in the mix), the grateful and optimistic Statczar was very nice about it. The film, written and directed by Maine filmmaker David Jester, was certainly one of the top contenders among the impressive crop of shorts made in three days in Maine, with Statczar revealing that the team was preparing to expand the project. , on a more relaxed schedule. .

For Statczar, Maine is the birthplace and current home. The Portland-born actress’ family moved when she was 2, returning in 2020 after stops in Santa Fe and various Midwestern locations, including Chicago. It was there that Statczar studied at the legendary Second City Improv Center, preparing her to improvise so skillfully in “Cinema Absentia.”

“Even though we moved away when I was 2, we always came back,” Statczar said. “My mom’s family was here and I celebrated every birthday in Maine.”

Claire Statczar returned to Maine to find more film work than she expected. Photo by Rebel Darling Studios

However, moving back to Maine wasn’t necessarily the aspiring young actress’ plan. After choosing to homeschool herself to better pursue her acting career, she was initially skeptical that having her family return was an ideal situation. “I thought there was no way I could pursue a career in Maine,” confessed Statczar, who recently signed with Maine. Dirigo Talent Agency“But now I think it’s totally possible to do something myself in Maine.”

The enthusiastic and driven Statczar has, indeed, taken off since moving to Maine in September 2020. In addition to “Cinema Absentia,” she is currently starring in a horror short that will appear as part of this year’s Maine Chaos Southern Maine Community College Student Film Festival and, among various other projects, solidified its relationship with Whiskey Wolf Media by taking on various behind-the-scenes roles in the upcoming Stephen King adaptation of David Jester and Leigh Doran, “One for the road.” Additionally, Statczar has reached out to other members of Maine’s film community, people who she says are as optimistic as she is about the future of film in Maine.

“The amount of talent Maine has is incredible,” Statczar said. “Besides the number of talented people I’ve met here, the number of filmmakers picking up and moving to Maine really gives me a lot of hope for the film industry here.” As befits someone so young and ambitious, Statczar is particularly forward-thinking about Maine’s cinematic future, pointing out a critical element that must be addressed for Maine to truly become fertile ground for film production.

“Tax incentives are key, that’s what I’ve learned,” Statczar said of his research on LD1334, a bill being discussed in the Maine Legislative Assembly. Verbally but informatively captioned, “An Act to promote economic development through enhanced motion picture incentives,” it’s the bill that would put Maine – with all of our undeniably cinematic and varied potential filming locations – on par with movie destinations like Atlanta, Boston, and all those places that inelegantly stand in for Maine in just about every Stephen King adaptation that hits the screen.

“It’s key to strengthening the industry here,” Statczar said. “Since coming here, I’ve met so many filmmakers who would really love to work in Maine, but are leaving the state because of the costs.” Adding that film companies, with their attendant needs for Maine businesses of all kinds, would have a positive economic impact on the state, Statczar is equally hard on the idea that a higher film profile would only benefit to actors and filmmakers who would prefer to stay here.

“Exhibition is really important,” Statczar said. “There are people in the state who don’t even know how big Maine’s movie industry is.” And while readers of this column will know my thoughts on the matter (“The film production tax break literally has no downside, people!” I croak, in a bad mood), it’s the young, creative professionals in the Maine filmmakers like Claire Statczar who have invested the most in ensuring Maine’s film industry continues to grow.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me in Maine,” Statczar said, “and also for the fact that so many people in the state right now are so deeply focused on expanding the “film industry here. It’s a great time to be in a movie in Maine, and I’m excited to see where it’s going.”

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.

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