Hartl’s film ‘The Whexican’ is finalist at Tucson Film Festival
“The Whexican”, a short film that was put together by a crew of predominantly Cerritos College alumni, placed as one of the nine finalists at the Tucson Film Festival.
The finalists have a chance to be shown on NuvoTV, a cable channel that is partially owned by Jennifer Lopez, as part of a showcase to display emerging Latino filmmakers.
The movie was directed by professor Forrest Hartl and the movie was based on previous experience with his grandfather from Mexico.
“(We) didn’t really know each other, but when I graduated from college he lost his driver’s license and I needed a car,” Hartl said. “So I bought my grandfather’s car from him and I would take him on errands, so I got to know him over a couple year’s.”
He used that as a base for the script and show a grandson that getting to know not only his grandfather, but the Mexican culture that he wasn’t familiar with as well.
Hartl was involved with every aspect of the movie and felt that he had to act in it as well because he was the grandson that the movie was based off of.
“It’s three times as hard to be acting and to be thinking about how you are directing the scene, giving suggestions to the other actors and I wrote the script so on the fly, we were changing lines or tweaking dialogue,” he said.
Alejandro Patino, who is a Cerritos College alum and has over 100 credits on The Internet Movie Database (IMDb), played the grandfather in film and always looks forward to working with people from Cerritos College.
“I was at Cerritos for a bit in the mid 1980s and I hung around for quite a bit practicing my art,” Patino said. “So I have a history with Cerritos and I always look forward to collaborating with any up and coming students that I have developed friendships with.”
James Mills, also a Cerritos College alum and cinematographer for the movie, studied under Hartl in theatre before transferring to USC.
“(Hartl) is probably one of the very best writers I have ever known. One of the best actors, funniest people (I know) and his taste is very singular. He’s a masterful talent.”
There were over 400 submissions and “The Whexican” was part of the nine that are now under consideration for winning the competition.
Mills wasn’t surprised by the accolades that the film received as well as the positive response that it got from the film festival.
“There aren’t many short films that can tell a full narrative, while still being funny and emotional and leave you with something to think about,” he said. “It’s all Forrest’s work.”
Patino has worked on productions such as “The Bridge” and “Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, but doesn’t see that big of a difference when he works with small productions like “The Whexican.”
“It’s just the money. The product and the outcome is all the same. We’re producing something for people to see and enjoy,” Patino said. “For any scale, even with music and theatre, we put in all that hard work in rehearsing and the outcome is always the same.”