Fruita grad debuts horror flick in Telluride Sunday
WHAT: Telluride Horror Show
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, Oct. 11-13
WHERE: Sheridan Opera House, Telluride, Colo.
COST: 3-day pass is $84; $40 for five individual movie showings
When Hank Braxtan set out to direct his first feature film — a horror flick called “Chemical Peel” — he based his vision off a story he heard long ago while living in Mesa County.
“Imagine if the Grand Valley was the center of a chemical fall out, and they evacuated everyone but one house, as far as we know,” Braxtan, 33, said. “It could be one house way out in Mack or Loma, all by itself, that they forget about.
“These kinds of things are more common than people realize, and there are lots of hazardous materials shipped through Grand Junction via train or truck every day. It’s kind of scary to think about, but it’s possible.”
And now Braxtan, who lives full time in Los Angeles, will debut his finished film — a scary tale of a bachelorette party gone awry — on home turf with a showing Sunday afternoon at the Telluride Horror Show, followed by a Q&A session. This annual film fest runs all weekend — Friday, Oct. 11, through Sunday, Oct. 13 — at Telluride’s historic Sheridan Opera House. Tickets are still available.
“I’m just thrilled that we’re going,” he noted. “It’s the only film festival we’re playing in North America” before the film is released by Lionsgate sometime in the first half of 2014. “It should be a really cool thing. If you’ve never been to a film festival, this is the one.”
Presenting “Chemical Peel” in Telluride is also a huge win for Braxtan and his wife, Arielle Brachfeld (another Coloradoan who’s in the film), because so many friends and family still living in Colorado will be able to share the experience.
“This should be quite a shocker for them,” he said, adding that “Chemical Peel” is “not just about hacking people up for two hours. The movie is also somewhat of a tragedy because you start to care for the characters.”
Braxtan graduated from Fruita Monument High School in 1998 and attended the University of Colorado’s film school after time served in the military. His mom, Teri, still lives in Mesa County and runs Final Paws, the pet cemetery on H Road.
“I’m excited for it!” Teri Braxtan said. “I haven’t seen it yet; he’s guarded it jealously until the debut.”
That’s because being a career filmmaker has long been a dream of Braxtan’s, way back to his boyhood.
“When he was about 8 years old, it broke the bank but I bought him a video camera,” Teri Braxtan said. “He was writing and directing then. I have a whole collection of films he wrote, directed and edited.”
Here’s another fun fact: “Chemical Peel” was produced by 17 Road (a Hollywood-based independent production company) on a shoestring budget. And though Braxtan didn’t want to reveal total dollars spent, he said, “we’re in the realm of ‘Paranormal Activity,’ the first one, not the sequel.”
The cast and crew accomplished that by basing the film around one central location — Braxtan’s home — with limited filming outside.
The film “is set in fictitious anywhere USA,” Braxtan explained, “but in my mind it was always supposed to be in the Grand Valley. Originally, I was going to shoot the exteriors there, but logistics and costs would have been crazy.”
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Five candidates are running for three seats on the Garfield Re-2 school board this year.