Filmmaker finds niche back home in Indiana

At 11, Richmond native Zack Parker was bitten by the same species of filmmaking bug that purportedly sank its teeth into junior versions of Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, if unauthorized biographies are to be believed.

?I would say around the time I was 11 years old, my dad got his first video camera and I started playing around with it,? he says. ?The California Raisins and ?Avoid the Noid? were really popular at the time, and so I started making clay animation movies.?

Like most people interested in careers in the movie business, Parker ended up in Los Angeles for a time. Parker moved back to his hometown in 2005 to raise a family, yet his career has only gotten hotter since then.

Parker says he will shoot his latest script, ?Proxy,? in July in locations throughout Indiana that are only now being scouted.

He says he can?t reveal too many plot details but he is looking for Hoosier actors and technicians to fill out his cast and crew.

People who are interested in learning more can email Veronica Diaz at [email protected]

Parker?s most recent film, ?Scalene,? received rave reviews in the New York Times and the Village Voice and won the Grand Jury Award at the Dances with Film festival in 2011.

Also, last year the film won Best Film and Parker won Best Director at the Cincinnati Film Festival.

?Scalene,? in which Parker experiments with linear and non-linear storytelling, is a thriller about a crime and its aftermath told from three different points of view.

? ?Scalene? is a slow swirl of triangulated tension,? wrote Jeanette Catsoulis in the Times, ?a psychological puzzle that never quite gives up its dead.?

Parker says his quest to get a film made started at Ball State University in 1996.

He went to the school believing it had a film program. It did not and does not.

?I was taking a class in the history of radio and television,? he says. ?I went up to the professor afterward and said, ?I want to be a filmmaker. Does this class have anything to do with filmmaking or will it help with a career in film in any way?? And he said, ?No.? So I dropped it.?

But Parker pressed ahead, taking liberal arts classes and making a short film called ?Sanity? as part of a then-embryonic student-run studio called Cardinal Filmworks.

A Ball State professor who had enjoyed ?Sanity? referred him to an extension program at UCLA designed for people already in the film business who want to shift to another cinematic vocation.

In California, Parker took a job that is considered by many cineastes to be a filmmaking rite of passage: He worked as a production assistant for indie film legend Roger Corman.

?I worked on the TV show version of a movie called ?Black Scorpion,? ? he says. ?It was not a great show. But at 19 years old, it was definitely amazing to be on a real shoot behind an actual film camera.?

Thinking he had found a producer to back his first feature, Parker returned to Indiana to scout and secure locations and do preproduction work.

?I was living in my parents? house and was about to make a movie,? he says. ?I thought I was going to be a superstar and then it all fell to pieces.?

The producer pulled out of the project. Parker has been his own producer ever since.

He has made three films since then: ?Deception? in 2001, ?Inexchange? in 2006 and ?Scalene? last year. All three were shot in Indiana.

They were all embraced by the horror film community, something Parker says he is grateful for, even though he really doesn?t think of any of them as being horror films.

He says ?Proxy? will be his darkest film yet.

Parker says that even in tiny Richmond, far from Hollywood in distance and essence, he is able to pursue filmmaking as a vocation rather than relegate his dream to a hobby.

?Through residuals from past films and the fact that my wife is an occupational therapist, I am able to be a stay-at-home dad by day and a filmmaker by night,? he says.

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