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Alonso Mayo realizes filmmaking dream

Maryland International Film Festival-Hagerstown

April 07, 2013|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE | crystal.schelle@herald-mail.com
  • Director Alonso Mayo checks the framing for a shot.
Submitted photo

Writer-director Alonso Mayo has had his filmmaker's dream come to fruition: the premiere of his first full-length feature film.

"It's exciting," Mayo said during a phone interview from a vacation in Lawrence, Kan.

Mayo's film, "The Story of Luke," opened in limited release on April 5. For Hagers-town audiences, the film will be shown at the Maryland International Film Festival-Hagerstown  Saturday, April 13, at Academy Theater.

The 34-year-old said he was in high school when he realized he wanted to become a filmmaker. He was enrolled in a media class that made news reports, music videos and similar video productions.

"I always like movies, but I guess it always seemed kind of unreachable," he said. "But once I finally got hold of equipment and learned to edit, and figured out I actually could do it. I just kept doing it. I think that's the way with most filmmakers. If you're a filmmaker you don't want to do anything else because you want to do it so bad."

Mayo studied film and journalism at the University in Lima, Peru. He had grown up splitting time between Lima and Lawrence as a child.

"The Story of Luke" is a comedy about a young man (Lou Taylor Pucci) who has autism and embarks on a quest for a job and a girlfriend. The film also stars Seth Green, Cary Elwes and Kristin Bauer.

The film is a personal one for Mayo, who was inspired by the work of his mother, Lilian Mayo, who created Centro Ann Sullivan del Peru in Lima. The nonprofit helps those with special needs, including autism like the film's character, Luke.

"I was always around the teachers and the professionals and the kids," he said. "So to me, it was always normal."

When he was a teenager he worked for Centro Ann Sullivan to make training videos about how some of the students were entering the workforce.

"Specifically, I had been around a lot of young adults to do real jobs," he said. "That's when I saw a lot of the challenges and I saw the cool things that happen when somebody you think has a disability, suddenly is working and they do a lot of different things."

By the time he was older and living in Los Angeles as a filmmaker, Mayo said he always knew he wanted to do a project about his experience there.

"I always wanted to make it very light, not something very dark, dramatic movie," he said. "Because my experiences had been like that — a lot of laughter, a lot of laughter, a lot of happiness. It's very uplifting there. My experience is that it's tough, but people get through it."

He said every time he returned to Lima, he kept in touch with the young adults he had spent time with. As they got older, he realized they were also dealing with real world issues as dating, living on their own, trying to earn more money.

"A combination of everything led me to writing ("The Story of Luke')," he said.

But Mayo said he wanted to do more research, so he returned to Lima with a camera to gather information. What happened was that he had enough film to cut a documentary.

In 2007, Mayo finished writing "The Story of Luke." He said because of the economic downturn of 2008, it took longer than he anticipated to get the finances, but he believed in the project.

"We always fortunately had a good response," he said.

In 2011, Mayo said he received the financing including a grant from Ontario, Canada, where the movie was shot. He said the filming took five weeks, about 23 days.

"It was short, but it was enough. You always want more time. You always want more money, but it was what we needed," he said.

As for casting, Pucci was attached early on, Mayo said. Green as well showed early interest.

"These people really don't need to do it for the money. They do it because they responded to the project," he said.

As Mayo rides the wave of "The Story of Luke," he still has several projects in the works including a webseries  called "Untitled Fiction Project," which is unscripted. He also has another script he's finished he hopes to find financing for this summer.

When Mayo isn't behind the camera, he's teaching at New York Film Academy in Burbank, Calif. What does he try to teach his students?

"I try to convince them not to do it, even though I shouldn't," he said with a laugh. "It's a hard life. I think if you really want to do it you have to be good with failure and be OK with that and realize that not everything's going to be great. Especially in the early years when you're just starting out. Practice makes perfect. You have to keep doing it, keep doing it, keep doing it. If you are hard-headed enough and keep doing it and listen to people and you get better at it, then I think you have a chance."




If you go ...

What: "The Story of Luke"

When: 6:52 p.m. Saturday, April 13

Where: Academy Theater, 58 E. Washington St., downtown Hagerstown

Cost: $10, which includes film "Titanic Love," which will be shown at 6:30 p.m.

Contact: To purchase tickets, go to http://www.mdtheatre.org%20 or call 301-790-3500.

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