Sometimes you visit Maine, and it hooks you. Just ask this former author by the way, or better yet, ask Portland filmmaker Ricardo Lorenzo.
“I came to Maine from New Jersey in 2015 for a wedding,” said Lorenzo, who now lives in Portland’s Parkside neighborhood. “I saw these punk kids and I kind of followed them to this – I don’t mean ‘shady’ – this interesting building next to the green elephant and heard live music. There was this band playing in an abandoned apartment, and it was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.
Such are the great love stories born, with the filmmaker also citing his wife’s love of outdoor recreation and her need for a town with cool stuff within walking distance as reasons for the couple’s permanent move to Portland. in 2019. And it is here that Lorenzo is working on completing “The super exciting gang», his last short film.
And, honestly, it’s pretty exciting.
It’s the story of a black artist who, years after leaving an artist collective, finds himself coming back once his superhero creations (the titular superteam) are optioned for a major blockbuster. Hollywood. Timely stuff there, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and, to a much lesser extent, the DC Extended Universe) dominating all pop culture, everywhere. But, as Lorenzo says, the conflicts around “The Super Exciting Gang” remain timeless.
“David, the main character, feels he needs to branch out,” Lorenzo explained, “but then they take this thing that he created and monopolize it. It becomes this entity, and David sees the opportunity to take back what’s his. He joins the band, crafting the script in that cabin in the woods, and madness ensues.
For longtime “comic book guy” Lorenzo, there’s a lot more resonance to this world than Marvel watchers and Big Two (Marvel and DC) comic book readers usually imagine. “So many comics are so generic,” said Lorenzo, citing independent publishers like Boom! Studios like more his style. “There are these big writers who make big different changes, but then those stories fade away. These short-lived victories – these are the stories I’m trying to find.
The Super Exciting Gang of “The Super Exciting Gang” also depicts the main character’s experiences as a black man, something his former all-white collaborators can’t see or replicate, as his designs soar to the great. screen. “There are themes that are more related to people like me, people of color,” says the Black Latinx filmmaker. “Sometimes that’s how society works in your head. You do these things naturally without acknowledging some kind of ingrained racism within you. It becomes unconscious. »
As David’s thorny reunion with his former colleagues continues, Lorenzo says the character’s frame of reference serves to illuminate their increasingly bizarre and heightened confrontations. Citing cult films such as ‘Sorry to Bother You’ and ‘Being John Malkovich’ as influences on his film, Lorenzo said: “While this film isn’t necessarily rooted in that kind of extreme surrealism, that’s what is ingrained in David’s head. They become more over-the-top characters, almost dangerous versions of the Hollywood producer’s trope. It’s his take on these over-the-top characters. Meanwhile, he also has to deal with unresolved issues of their past.
As for his own creative journey, Lorenzo says he returned for a final round of filming in New Jersey later this month, then headed into post-production, with a view to a 2023 release. And that’s where we come in, since Lorenzo turned to the crowdfunding site Seed and spark to raise the final $4,540, he reckons it will be enough for editing, sound and color mixing, music and the millions and another chores every filmmaker has to do to complete a movie. (Backers can get a digital first copy of the film, among other premium perks.)
By last week he was more than halfway to that goal, which the initially skeptical Lorenzo attributes to Seed & Spark’s hands-on approach. “They actually put someone from the company there to walk you through, piece by piece. That, plus all that support from people, is really exciting. Super exciting, you might say. Lorenzo also cites the support of rapper and comic book writer MF Grimm, whose autobiographical graphic novel “Sentenceshas long been a source of inspiration.
When asked if he had experienced a similar IP shadow as a filmmaker, Lorenzo thankfully replied that he had not. “It’s not really a fear of mine,” he said, pointing to his own group of loyal and collaborative associates, including screenwriter and college friend Matthew Brian Cohen. “But it’s definitely something I’ve seen happen to people. It’s an interesting idea, taking someone’s culture, taking their intellectual property. The film is about a black man who returns to claim what is his. These are his creations, and he wants to be a part of them again because it’s his. He and they should be able to progress, he should be allowed to be part of it.
You can learn more about ‘The Super Exciting Gang’ – and donate, if you wish – at the cinema Seeds and Sparks Page. And you can find out more about Lorenzo’s work (including his dark and funny short film, “An Improbable Story”, with his wife, Jeannette Berman) on 95films.com.
Dennis Perkins lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.