Fresno Beehive

This filmmaker from Selma is headed to France and a prestigious film festival

Michael Morales and his film crew had just one week to put together “Guardia de mi Hermano.”

They took three days.

The five-minute film was shot in just six hours in California’s East Bay, on a budget of next to nothing.

“It pretty much came down to gas money,” says Morales, a Selma native and broadcasting student at San Francisco State University. Morales spent another 12 hours editing the film before submitting it to Campus MovieFest, where it beat out hundreds of other shorts to take the top spot in the competition.

It also was selected as one of 24 creations to be screened at Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner in France, this May.

That’s no small deal. Cannes is a worldwide, prestigious event, the kind that draws megastars and insiders from across the globe. Which is why Morales hopes to travel to France to represent his film at the festival and has put together a GoFundMe account to cover the costs. He estimates it will run $3,000, which doesn’t include airfare and food. Morales has raised the $1,500 needed to secure a spot through Campus MovieFest, according to the GoFundMe page.

“Guardia de mi Hermano” was shot in Spanish and inspired in part by the Netflix show “Narcos,” which Morales was deeply into at the time. The film tells the story of two brothers trying to make ends meet and getting caught up in the world of drug trafficking.

“It leads to an unintentional betrayal,” says Morales, who also served as the film’s producer and came up with the major plot points.

Michael Morales, center, with the crew of “Gaurdia de mi Hermano.” The short film will screen as part of the Cannes Film Festival in May. MICHAEL MORALES

Before all this, movies were Morales’ side hustle, the thing he did mostly for fun when he wasn’t working two jobs or being a full-time student. His high school in Selma didn’t have a video production class until his junior year. He took it – and the advanced class the following year – but hadn’t worked on a proper movie until he got to college, where he was enrolled as a computer science major.

In fact, Morales wasn’t sure he would have time to make “Guardia de mi Hermano.” But the whole thing came together quickly.

The reaction the film has received opened Morales’ eyes to the power of storytelling. And to his own talents. Which is why he’s looking forward to being at Cannes, networking with other storytellers and being there on behalf of his community.

“To represent it there is very important to me, to be a beacon like that, for people,” he says.

And there’s the chance he’ll get to meet his favorite actors.

“It’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale.”

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee