Milton Horwitz, 32, a recent alum of the CSU film program, and Ryan Forte, 21, a current senior, hopped on an airplane to L.A. a few hours after they'd finished the final edits on their movie Moonshine Kingdom. They'd made some DVD screeners and intended to pitch their low-budget action flick to studio executives at the 2013 American Film Market Convention.
Horwitz and Forte bought tickets to the convention as exhibitors — which they were not — in order to get a list of potential clients.
"We were pretty guerilla in our tactics," Horwitz says in a phone interview. "We literally were knocking on doors. A lot of people, I mean, Sony was like, 'We don't take unsolicited screeners, get outta here.' But other people were like, 'You guys are pretty ballsy.'"
Ultimately, a company called NanoTech Entertainment bought the rights. NanoTech is a media conglomerate which leverages sophisticated new technologies in its distribution methods. It will make Moonshine Kingdom the first film to stream in 4K on its Nuvola NP-1 device (which runs on Android operating software) later this month.
That sounds like gibberish to most folks, and Forte acknowledges that at this point it's still a niche interest, but he's excited about the opportunity.
"Literally the only way to view our movie is in the highest quality available," he says.
Not to be confused with Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom — "We thought that would help," admits Horwitz — Moonshine Kingdom follows the travails of an Amish man who is shunned by his community after military service overseas. He stumbles into the underground world of "shining" and the violent, racially charged feuds it engenders in the Amish foothills.
Forte and Horwitz, both from Mayfield, shot their film on location in Cleveland and in Huntsburg, Ohio. They rented equipment from Dodd Camera (where Forte works) and Fletcher in Detroit (recently acquired by VER) and spent three months mining Cleveland's theater scene for top talent.