Local filmmaker Matt Sconce has announced plans to start work on his next independent film, “ALTAR” -- a project that will literally be a 24-hour per day job.
The horror film follows a group of former college classmates who take a trip into the Sierra Nevada mountains for a college reunion campout. However, “they stumble onto something much darker and must battle to escape the evil they unleashed to not only save their own lives but their souls as well.”
The film is currently in preproduction and is scheduled to be released in early 2016.
Sconce, the co-founder/creator of Movie Heroes, which revitalized The Met in Oakhurst, is no newcomer to independent film. He has won awards for a number of projects he has worked on, including “Firefall,” “Stricken,” and “PUSH.”
He also produced “The Astronaut” which recently premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in France, and was named Nova Artist of the Year at the Northern Virginia International Film Festival.
However, his newest venture presents new challenges, as he plans to take a found footage approach to the filming of “ALTAR.”
Found footage is a style which is most recognizable in films such as “The Blair Witch Project” or the more recent film “Project X.” The name is self-descriptive -- the film is presented as though it was filmed on camcorders, then found later and watched as is.
What makes this project different, especially as compared to Sconce’s other works, is that he plans to shoot it in just seven days, during which the actors will be in character the entire time -- an extreme method acting approach which will surely test the cast and director himself.
“If it’s not directed well by me, it will feel forced which could ruin the whole thing,” Sconce said. “I need to bring my best directing game to those seven days to help those actors bring out their best, to give the actors what they need to bring out the performances that are real.”
While major plot points will be outlined, the actor will improvise from point to point. Sconce is employing this method to harness a natural atmosphere and genuine emotions with the project.
“It just needs to feel like it’s real,” he said. “That’s the difficult part of found footage -- making the audience believe what they are seeing could actually happen.”
“Filming in Firefall was setup after setup, but it was very linear. Whereas, ALTER is going to be very organic. We will always be filming, and it will be more like a live event.”
The actual filming will be conducted locally and in the Central Valley, and will be done in 4K - the latest in high-quality filming which is nearly four times as refined as traditional high definition video.
The original idea for ALTAR was kicked around by Sconce as early as 2011. He began writing the movie and was serious about filming, but eventually decided that it wasn’t the right timing.
The idea was rebirthed when he launched a Facebook for the movie which took off, receiving more than 2,500 “likes” from around the world.
“So I am optimistic about its reception and its success. Because we are getting a response for a movie that has not been made yet, I think it would be well received when it’s released,” he said.
To Sconce, the appeal of making a horror film is the ability to put the dichotomous battle between good and evil into the spotlight, and good horror movies are the ones that capture this battle in the right way. However, he stresses the he is not a horror filmmaker. Rather, he is a story teller.
“I just want to produce good story; I love a good story; If it’s a good story I am there,” he said. “A good story is one that makes people feel something and sticks with them when they leave the theater. I hope (the viewer) experiences thrills, adrenaline rushes, laughter and an overwhelming sense of excitement when they see this film.”
This also marks the first feature film that will be completely, from start to finish, a “Movie Heroes Studio” production -- the movie making branch of Movie Heroes.
Those interested in more information on the film and to keep up with any casting news can find it at facebook.com/altarthemovie.