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The Journal Gazette

  • StonePark Productions Producer David A. Melendez 

  • StonePark Productions Harrison Samuels stars in "One Penny," which will screen Friday night at Hobnobben Film Festival.

Thursday, June 15, 2017 1:15 am

Hobnobben Spotlight: Producer David A. Melendez

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

If you go

For a full schedule and ticket information for the Hobnobben Film Festival, which runs Thursday through Sunday, go to www.hobnobben.org.

The film "One Penny" will screen at Hobnobben Film Festival at 6 p.m. Friday. It is the debut feature for Baltimore-area filmmakers David A. Melendez and Michael DeVita who have been friends since high school. They co-wrote the film, which DeVita directed.

They began making short films in their teens and are now promoting "One Penny," a coming-of-age action film that follows an abandoned boy, Dylan, that is taken in by a homeless man. The film has won awards at festivals around the country including the Maryland International Film Festival and DC Independent Film Festival.

"One Penny" producer Melendez answered some questions via email about the movie, filmmaking and Hobnobben. Responses have been edited.

Q. You co-wrote the film. Where did the story of "One Penny" come from and why settle on it as your debut feature project?

A. Michael DeVita and I are huge fans of underdog stories so we knew “One Penny” had to follow characters you want to root for. Because this was a low budget film, we had to write based on the resources and locations we knew we could get. The characters of Dylan and Collin are loosely based on us. Their friendship, business struggles and go getter mentalities all stem from our experience growing up. It was a perfect story for our debut.

Q. You're working hard to get word out about the project, and it has been having success at film festivals. What are your goals for "One Penny," and how does it play into what comes next for you as a filmmaker?

A. Making a film is hard – promoting it is just as difficult. We’re always honored to get selected into festivals because they are our film’s life line. Our goal with “One Penny” is to get it out to as many people as possible. It’s a heart-felt film and audiences leave feeling inspired. Harrison Samuels and Carson Grant give phenomenal performances – which makes us more motivated to get the film out there.

As filmmakers, Michael and I wanted to prove that we could not only make a film, but tell a good story in the process. I think we did that with “One Penny” and I’m excited to show what we have next.

Q. Putting out a feature-length film is something you have been working on for quite a while, but you never went to film school. How important do you think that formal education is for a filmmaker?

A. It’s very important and I would encourage people interested in film to go (to school). Michael and I had a different path, which forced us to learn everything on our own - there is no right or wrong way. If you do go the no-school route – my advice is to get a partner to split the responsibilities.

Q. Do you remember your first experience with movies? What inspired you to pursue being a filmmaker?

A. Michael has always wanted to make films ever since he saw “Star Wars” as a kid – I was a little different. It was after I saw “American Beauty” at the age of 17 that I wanted to become a filmmaker. I knew Michael would direct and I would produce – didn’t know it would take 17 years! What’s amazing about “American Beauty” is I had a totally different prospective when watching it in my 30s.

Q. What is the importance of a festival like Hobnobben to filmmakers and film lovers?

A. Having a festival like Hobnobben gives filmmakers and film lovers a place to connect, and enjoy independent film. Without it, films like “One Penny” wouldn’t be able to reach their audiences. We’re very grateful to be a part of Hobnobben 2017!

cmcmaken@jg.net