Md. filmmaker wins big, continues festival circuit

Vince Brando has two passions in life: film and flying airplanes.

“I worked on film and television productions to pay for flight school, and I worked at airlines to pay for film school,” he said with a laugh.

In high school, Brando and his friends played around with amateur filmmaking, but none had the real know-how it takes to make a movie.

After four years of schooling at the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif., Brando returned to the East Coast ready to team up again with his old friends. The 31-year-old Middletown native managed to turn his love of movies into an award-winning career, with a little help from the “undead.”

During a bus trip from Los Angeles to the Palm Springs International Film Festival last year, Brando and friend Chris Magdalenski passed the time by writing what they planned to be “the small project on the way to the bigger project.”

“From LA to Palm Springs, we were passing the iPad back and forth,” Brando said of the trip, during which he and Magdalenski created Michael, a struggling New York City artist who also grapples with being a zombie. And thus, “Zombie Bohemia” was born.

Filming in New York, Brando expected to shoot for one or two weekends, edit the short film and move on to bigger ventures. A year and a half later, the director and his friends are just beginning their film festival run.

Relying on grass-roots marketing techniques such as Facebook and Twitter, Brando’s movie already received recognition when it won the Best Short Fiction Film category at the D.C. Independent Film Festival last month.

“It was a good feeling to have the first festival we applied to accept us,” Brando said of the event.

He admitted that his characters resemble that of pop culture’s zombie phenomenon, but said that his story is a bit different.

“I didn’t expect it to take on the life of its own that it has,” Brando said of his short.

Ideally, the director said he would like for the story of Michael the zombie artist to become an episodic project, something he can turn into a TV show for a company like Comedy Central.

“Or a feature,” Brando said. “(That) would be wonderful.”

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