Sonoma State students get short films accepted at Cannes

"We're the first from Sonoma State to take a film to Cannes," producer-director Alex Bretow told KTVU on the Rohnert Park campus.

In fact, Bretow and writer-producer Mary-Madison Baldo had not one, but two short films selected out of thousands that were submitted.

Monday evening, the pair received applause and congratulations from their professor and fellow students in their film industry class.

But their two movies were made outside of class, on their own time and at their own expense.

"Hello Mister Tarantino, how are you?" laughed Baldo excitedly, referring to her idol, director Quentin Tarantino.

"We're only going to the most famous red carpet in the world!" chimed in Bretow.

They have reason to be euphoric. The congratulatory letter came March 16, and they're still finding it hard to believe.

"You'll meet industry professionals that write, produce, direct and edit some of the worlds best films," read Bretow, from the Cannes email. 

"That was the most exciting part," Baldo broke in.

"I think about it every day," 21 year old Baldo added. "This is such a dream come true."

Both shorts are action-thrillers. One, titled "Snake Eyes," took three days to shoot in the desert near Palmdale, California.

The other, titled "Rampage," was filmed in a Forestville trailer park in just one day.

"We made that one on the fly because I love horror films," smiled Baldo.

The two students formed a partnership, Baldo-Bretow Productions, two years ago.

They've collaborated on about a half dozen projects before this, and they've attended some film festivals, but nothing on the grand scale of Cannes.

"It's the biggest, most prestigious film festival in the world, "exclaimed Bretow, in the production suite where the films were edited.

"It's my passion. I've been doing this literally since i was eight years old, running around with a camera, making films."

There is one plot twist to overcome, however.

To get to the South of France in May, the filmmakers need to raise about $11,000 for airfare, lodging and expenses.

A GoFundMe page has generated about $2,000 in donations so far.

They are determined to accompany their films and present them, so they can enjoy the audience reaction.

They also want to make valuable contacts, because they have many more stories to tell.

"I think I counted how many ideas I have in my notebook, it's about 135 ideas right now," admitted Baldo.

The two are also proud to bring recognition to Sonoma State University, which doesn't even have a film major program.

"We were found and plucked out of the crowd," explained Bretow, "so we're trying to help other filmmakers too."

The filmmakers have posted the two short movies "Rampage" and "Snake Eyes" on YouTube.