The Horror of Chris LaMartina
As a kid who grew up on 80’s horror films, it is no wonder that Chris LaMartina has become a horror film writer and director himself in the local Baltimore scene. He began making movies at the age of twelve, and grew extremely passionate about the horror genre at the age of fourteen. It was not until he was a student at Towson University that he made his first feature film as an independent study project, Dead Teenagers. As Chris discusses each of his films, he continually repeats how each film taught him lessons about filmmaking. The Book of Lore, a hundred eleven minute long feature made in 2007, taught Chris one of the biggest lessons to be learned in filmmaking. He learned that such a long feature with a low budget would not get bought as easily, if it had been shorter. Each film presented its own set of problems, though LaMartina and his crew were always able to find some sort of solution. One such example was the set for President’s Day, a film about a killer that dresses up as Abraham Lincoln and rampages through a high school. The original location fell through last minute but Chris was able to find another school to use.
Chris shared with our class a good amount of advice on working with distributors. One of the most important things he has learned from working with distributors is “[you] need to be able to describe [your] feature in a single sentence, so it makes it easier to sell” (Class Visit)1. Especially today with social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, it is essential to be able to get your point across effectively in the least amount of words, as to not lose the attention of your audience. Not only do you need a short, interesting tag line but there also needs to be sex and violence within the first five minutes of the film. There is a noticeable progression towards incorporating these integral aspects within his films. For example, this can be seen through the growing number of nude scenes in each consecutive feature film of his.
In Chris’ latest film, Witches Brew, he went all out, not holding back on anything, especially the special effects. At the beginning of pre-production, he was in the mind set that Witches Brew would be his last movie in Baltimore, before moving out to Los Angeles, since he knew he would be losing his job at Mayor’s Office in Baltimore City, due to budget cuts. Chris ended up having to stay in Baltimore for financial reasons, and is now working at a local production company. In terms of future plans, “[Chris] will continue writing scripts with George [co-producer] no matter what, he [Chris] acknowledges that he doesn’t know if it makes sense to make another no-budget feature” (Baltimore City Paper)2. While Chris may no longer direct low-budget horror films anymore, he definitely enjoyed his time making his past feature films. He emphasized that he never was trying to achieve Hollywood level horror films; rather he enjoyed the restrictions that were created from his limited resources. In the end, Chris made his films for his audience, “don’t make art for yourself, [it] always has an audience” (Class Visit)3.
1, 3 – Baltimore Filmmakers Class Visit
2 – Gardner, Lee. “If You Think Watching Chris LaMartinaâs Low-Budget Horror Films Is Unnerving, Try Making One.” If You Think Watching Chris LaMartinaâs Low-Budget Horror Films Is Unnerving, Try Making One. Baltimore City Paper, 12 Oct. 2011. Web. 16 Apr. 2012. <http://citypaper.com/film/if-you-think-watching-chris-lamartina-8217-s-low-budget-horror-films-is-unnerving-try-making-one-1.1216432>.
Link to a trailer of one of LaMartina film’s, Witches Brew: