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Buffalo film collective's short to screen at Cannes

A locally made film is on its way to Cannes.

“To Have and to Hold” by the Buffalo film collective Pan-American Film Division beat out more than 200 shorts from around the world to take the Best Picture honors at the 2018 Four Points Film Project competition. The film will now screen at the Short Film Corner at the 2019 Festival de Cannes and at the 48 Hour Film Project’s Filmapalooza, March 6-9 in Orlando.

The zombie romance also won best writing, best production design, best actor and best makeup. It was the runner-up in the categories of best editing and audience choice.

“To me it’s crazy. What a great prize. We get to go to Cannes,” said collective member Rich Herbeck of Kenmore, who wrote the short film.

The Four Points Film Project is an online global competition in which filmmakers are given 77 hours to complete a short film (4 to 7 minutes) from writing to editing. Right before the competition starts, they are given two genres to choose from along with other details they must include. These were the requirements for the most recent contest:

  • The genre could be either a zombie movie or a romance.
  • It had to include the following line of dialogue: “Did I receive a package in the mail today?”
  • A character named Lloyd or Linda who was a public notary.
  • A hamburger.

Collective members gathered to get the rules and start the contest. Once they picked their genre ("We decided to do both," Herbeck said), each person went off on their own for about 20 minutes to think of story ideas. Herbeck's came to him right away: What do you do if your wife is pregnant and becomes a zombie?

"I don't love zombie movies. But when we got the genre I thought 'why don’t we do something we haven’t seen before.' I wanted to keep it human," he said. He questioned the idea of how to legitimately deal with having the woman you love turn into a zombie and not knowing whether your child will be born a monster.

Video: To watch "To Have and To Hold" click here.

"Will the baby be a zombie? I liked the drama of it," said Herbeck, father of a one-year-old son. “I wasn’t specifically thinking about him when the idea popped in my head, but it was definitely an influence.”

Once the collective members voted to use Herbeck's story, they worked together. “While the original idea came out of my head, it evolved creatively as a team. It was very collaborative. There’s a lot of ongoing conversation," Herbeck said.

Since they knew their time was limited, everyone had made a list of their assets before they got their assignment. “You don’t know what you need – a rowboat, a big patch of grass. One person wrote down ‘two-week-old baby,’ " Herbeck laughed. The baby is in the film.

"To Have and To Hold" was directed by Travis Carlson and stars real husband-and-wife Marc Braun and Maria Braun as the couple in the film. The other collective members who also worked on it are Aaron Rizzo, Ben Woody, Capri Mesi, Clyde Burley, Cheri Leight, Cole Bielecki, Crew Rizzo, Jason Holler, Jenny Rizzo, John Profeta, Lee Becker, Linda Mesi, Luke Haag, MacLaine Russell, Marc Davies, Megan Gonsalves and Shakora Purks.

This isn't the first time Buffalo filmmakers will have the chance to take a film to Cannes. Some of the collective's members were also part of the group that won Buffalo's 2017 48-Hour Film Competition for the film "Ride of Your Life." It later won best cinematography, was in the top five films nominated for best film, and was nominated for best editing at the international 48 Hour Film Project Awards at the Hôtel de Ville, Paris in 2018. It then screened at the Cannes festival.


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