It should come as no surprise that Max Kessler wants to make movies. He literally grew up at the Magic Lantern Cinema in Ketchum, which will host the premiere of his debut short film "Desperation" on Thursday, Jan. 4, at 8:30 p.m.
Kessler's father, Rick Kessler, owns the Magic Lantern Cinema, and his mother, Sheri Kessler, performs in The Fabulous Vuarnettes combining a heritage of talent for Kessler to pursue acting, writing and filmmaking.
"I always wanted to write," said Kessler. "I was in a first grade program writer's workshop to be creative. We wrote cartoons like crazy, and I wanted to do animation."
Kessler attends Emerson College in Boston, Mass., where he has been studying writing and acting in various projects. However, it was his past experience writing for the Young Voices program—a Company of Fools program for young writers—where he found his calling for filmmaking.
"My senior year I was chosen by Company of Fools with about eight kids to write short plays and perform them at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey. It went over really well, and that's the piece that I made into 'Desperation,'" Kessler said.
Kessler showed the script to his roommate, Kyle Morrison, who had worked on several film projects and was looking for something new to do. The two joined forces because they wanted to make their own movie.
"I knew how to write a script for a practical film," Kessler said. "I would rather go heavy on the post-production, which students don't get to do because there is no money left in the budget when they are finished filming. They spend too much on shooting the film. It looks good with great camera equipment and film stock, but that's it."
Morrison and Kessler had no money and decided to put together a plan to find investors. "Kyle is a producer with a natural knack for what needs to get done," said Kessler. "We put together a budget, a 16-page script and our intentions in a 10-page packet. Then I put on a coat and tie and began to approach people."
Talking mostly to Blaine County residents, friends and people who Kessler was told to talk with about funding, Kessler and Morrison gathered the funding to make "Desperation." Filming took place this past spring and through connections for post-production as well as helpful Emerson contacts, the film was completed.
"Desperation" is a 15-minute film about two teenage boys transitioning from high school into the next phase of life. The film is a funny high school comedy, but it's not a cliché according to Kessler.
"It's a coming of age film where people can relate to that period of time of losing one's youth," he said.
Kessler promised the investors in "Desperation" the film would be taken to festivals, and he has found a publicist who is a marketing major at Emerson who is creating a "real" press kit and press release for the film. Kessler and Morrison want to establish an LLC for their production company, 8/0 Productions, to continue making movies.
"After working on 'Desperation' I recognized the importance of production," Kessler said. "I am set on writing but now interested in more."