Local comedy film gets a world premiere at Latchis

Local comedy film gets a world premiere at Latchis

BRATTLEBORO — On Friday, April 6, the world will finally have a chance to meet Lil' Balzac, a wannabe rapper willing to go the extra mile to realize his dreams of working with his favorite record producer.

Lil' Balzac is the title character of a homegrown 30-minute absurdist comedy film shot in Brattleboro with a local cast and crew. It will have its first preview screening from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m., at the Latchis Theatre, a fitting place for the film's debut.

Lil' Balzac was born in the imaginations of Latchis Theatre staff members Austin Rice and Alexander Passino, according to a news release.

“Alex and I came up with the idea of Lil' Balzac when we were both working at the Latchis Theatre. It's cool that it started in the theater lobby and now it's premiering in the Main Theatre,” said Rice, who is the film's director, co-writer, and co-producer.

The event includes the debut showing of the film, a Q&A with many of the people involved in it, and a gag reel. Admission is by suggested donation of $5 - more is welcome - with proceeds going to support Rice's next project.

Passino stars as Lil' Balzac, a wannabe rapper who believes he just got his big break - the chance to work with his favorite producer. The trouble is, he needs $4,000 to pull it off, and he's actually just a dirt-broke stoner living in a tent.

Determined to realize his dream, he jumps at the chance to raise the money by facing off against an undefeated beast of a man in an underground fight club. What happens? Well, you just have to see for yourself.

Lil' Balzac is the latest project for Rice, who honed his filmmaking skills at The Compass School and River Valley Tech Center. He screened one of his earliest films, Noah, at the Latchis Theatre in 2011 when he was 17.

Four years later, he screened short comedic films during the Local Artists Showcase at the Latchis. He has also taught film at The Compass School and done videography and editing for several other local projects.

Two-and-a-half years in the making and filmed at many locations throughout Brattleboro, Lil' Balzac may have started as the brainchild of two friends and colleagues at the Latchis Theatre, but it quickly grew to encompass the talents of many other local people.

In addition to Passino, the cast includes Joshua Cunningham, Jan Van Oene, Maechyl Lloyd, David Lloyd, Teo Radev, Darren Goldsmith, Joel Kaemmerlen, and Keely Eastley. Music is by Jan Van Oene, Maechyl Lloyd, and Evan Lincoln. Rice reached as far as Boston for help with animation by Steff Egan.

Then there's local filmmaker, editor, and videographer Angus Reid, who was first pulled in as a last-minute substitute for a day of filming but became more and more involved, eventually serving as director of photography, visual and special effects director and, ultimately, co-producer.

“I think it will surprise people as a highly entertaining, watchable, and sneakily impressive piece of work,” Reid said. “Though I know that a stoner comedy about a total loser won't be everyone's cup of tea, I do think it will find its audience, and if it does, what I would love to hear from them as they file out of the Latchis is: 'Wow, I can't believe that was made here in Brattleboro.'”

After the world premiere, Rice is hoping to enter Lil' Balzac in festivals, and he's hard at work on two screenplays.

The film isn't rated, but if it were, it would probably carry a PG-13 tag for profanity and drug references. For more information, visit www.latchisarts.org or lilbalzac.com.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates