Clovis News

Movies shot in Valley give filmmakers boost

Three filmmakers with Fresno ties are showing you don't have to be in Hollywood to make movies.

It'll be lights, cameras and action for Fresno May 9-27 as Clovis High School and Fresno State graduates Diana Vu and Johnny Soto shoot their low-budget, independent film "Showboys" here. And Matt Sconce's movie, "Stricken," shot entirely in the Central Valley, is getting national attention.

"We have always been committed to shooting the movie in Fresno," Vu says. "We know how supportive the community is, plus we have family and friends here. We also want to give opportunities to kids and students who want to be a part of making movies."

Vu won't say how much "Showboys" will cost to make but stresses it's a small, independent film being funded by a Fresno backer who at this point wants to remain anonymous.

The feature-length family-friendly comedy is loosely based on a short film Vu and Soto made with their own money about a young man attending a collectible magazine show. It screened at several film festivals.

Hollywood auditions were held last month for principal roles. A post on the "Showboys" Facebook page says "General Hospital" actor Ronnie Marmo and adult film star Ron Jeremy have been cast. Because this is a low-budget production, a majority of the acting roles and technical staff will be hired locally.

Jobs to fill include production designer, costume designer, key hair and make-up artists, script supervisor, set decorator, set dresser, prop master, accountant and a second assistant director.

Auditions will be March 26-27. The location and exact times haven't been finalized.

"The main jobs will be paid positions. We can also use all the volunteer help we can get," Vu says. "Also, we are still scouting locations in Fresno and looking for any help we can get from local businesses."

The location work's not a big worry because of the pair's familiarity with the area. Soto majored in theater arts at Fresno State while Vu earned a degree in mass communications.

They've worked as actors, filmmakers and in post production in Los Angeles since 2008 before they launched their own production company: An Open Mind Productions.

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While Vu and Soto work to get their movie made, Sconce is watching his career take off as "Stricken" gets national exposure on AT&T U-Verse's and Dish Network's Video On Demand through the end of July. If enough people view it, "Stricken" will be available on Comcast's On Demand.

"I am excited to see how it does. It it does well, it'll open up many other doors," says Sconce, a North Fork resident.

It would be available to a much bigger audience -- 35 million homes, compared to 15 million now. And it might land a distributor for a DVD release.

"Stricken," written and directed by Sconce, is the story of a young woman who fears she is losing her grip on reality. When people she cares about start to die, she believes she may be next.

The movie was shot in Fresno, Oakhurst, Coarsegold and Avenal for less than $50,000.

Contacts made through "Stricken" have helped Sconce get his next project, "Magic," into pre-production. Portions of the film, budgeted at $40 million, are scheduled to shoot in Fresno late this year.

If you don't have cable, you can see "Stricken" during the Rogue Festival at 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 11, and 5 p.m. Saturday, March 12, at 1212 N. Van Ness Ave. Tickets are $8. For more information go to