'Walking' film premieres

April 16, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Filmmaker Jonathan Austin said he was trying to stay within the reach of his own life experience for "Walking to Maryland," hence the scene where one of the characters walks up to an ATM only to get back a slip that reads "NSF."

There are also bad breakups, disillusionment and many bumps on the path to self-growth most young adults experience -- themes Austin said he borrowed from his own life experience.

"I wrote a lot of this a long time ago when I was going through my own little break-up situation," Austin said.

"Walking to Maryland" premieres Saturday at The Maryland Theatre.

The movie is a love story and coming-of-age story, intertwined. A young man grapples with the demands of a young adulthood -- being in love, being broke and losing loved ones -- leading to a reassessment of what is really important in life.


The premiere is the culmination of nearly a year's worth of taping -- half of it done in Hagerstown.

It's also a bit of a homecoming.

Austin, 24, grew up in Hagerstown but is now living and working in Washington, D.C. "Walking" is film No. 4 for him and his film-school buddy, director Shawn Willis, but Austin said it was their first major film. It is also the first time he has ever taped in his hometown.

Actor Mike Kozlowski has the lead male role. Kozlowski has performed in several local theater productions, including Washington County Playhouse's "Forever Plaid" in 2007.

Austin's girlfriend, actress Melissa Pugh -- whose stage name is Melissa Anne -- has the lead female role.

The film cost $10,000, coming mostly out of Austin and Willis' pockets. They were able to tape most places for free and did not pay the cast or crew. He projected the cost will reach $14,000 after they've gotten it film-festival ready and start entering it on the national festival circuit.

But he said he's not hoping to make a profit at Saturday's screening. He said he hoped he could inspire others to make movies and encourage people not to worry about boundaries.

"They might be like, 'I have no money, I have no equipment,'" Austin said. "But we had no money and we had no equipment. If there's a will, there's a way."

If you go ...

What: "Walking to Maryland," film premiere

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 18

Where: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown

Cost: $10, available in advance or at the door.

MORE: For tickets and information about the film, go to

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