In literature and film, it’s called a “nested story” or mise en abyme. Translation: a story within a story (or film within a film). Think of the gangster flick Angels with Filthy Souls that Kevin watches in Home Alone, or the fake German propaganda film in Inglourious Basterds. A new Colorado movie, Actor Martinez, takes this concept a step further by building a story around a Denver actor (Arthur Martinez) who hires two indie filmmakers to come to the Mile High City and make a feature film with him as the lead. And the movie industry seems to be responding: It’s screening at the renowned Tribeca Film Festival later this month.
Directors Nate Silver and Mike Ott do double-duty as they both appear in the film, while also as calling the shots behind the scenes. (The producing team is primary Colorado-based, including Britta Erickson, festival director for the Denver Film Society.) “We like these Iranian films that start with a person’s life and then add fictional elements into the film without the viewer knowing necessarily what is fact and what is fiction,” Silver says. The pair’s unique style—Silver and Ott worked off a two-page outline rather than a full script—suited the concept perfectly as the directors attempt to discover the true Martinez, both on-screen and off. The concept itself is firmly rooted in reality; the directors met Martinez when he was a volunteer driver during the Denver Film Festival two years ago. “I found him to be extremely eccentric and fascinating,” Silver says. Martinez approached Ott about making a movie with him; Ott agreed as long as Silver could co-direct. The rest, as they say, is history.
Silver and Ott would love to see the film sold at Tribeca, but the directors are also looking to continue screening it at festivals all over the world. “It’s the kind of movie people either really like or really hate,” Ott says. “But it was the most fun shoot I’ve ever been on.” Let’s hope the film makes its way to Denver soon, so we can watch the fun unfold ourselves.