15-year-old filmmaker Max Galassi can add another success to his already burgeoning resume.
Galassi -- a student at Newtown High School and the Regional Center for the Arts -- debuted his mid-length film Youth as part of the Newtown Arts Festival Tuesday night, just hours after putting the final touches on the film.
"Honestly, it's not even done yet," Galassi told Patch. "I don't think an artist can ever be satisfied with his or her own work. But just from finishing it so early before showing it to the public, it made me a little more nervous and vulnerable than I would be."
As the film screened to a sold-out audience of about 180 at the Newtown Congregational Church, Galassi was on the edge of his seat -- the most nervous, he says, he's ever been. He was surrounded by residents, friends and the crew he worked with on the film.
"I just sat there until the credits, hoping nothing would go wrong," he said. "I couldn't sit back, relax and take it in how I normally would. When it was over and people started clapping, I took a sigh of relief."
Youth is the next film from Galassi, whose previous work includes Astral and Moonlight. The young filmmaker started posting videos on Youtube when he was in 8th grade, and his films have gone on to win awards at national film festivals. Youth is a 30-minute long departure from his usual experimentalism.
"It’s about love, loss, and being free," he writes on his Indiegogo page. It's about change and escaping and realizing what really matters in the shadow of an intricate adolescent mind. It's about internal struggle while physically striving to not become a single impression on someone. It's a story about friendship, and realization. But most importantly, it's a story about being a kid, and being wild before you can’t anymore. It's about being a kid and being everything you can before things change."
"We filmed over a little less than 16 days, but the whole process made this group so close together," he said, thanking his actors: Nikomas Leman-Logston, Jeremy Eckl and Hayley Tate. "It's a very emotional film. As a director, I had to surface these actors and actress' emotions and make them use them to substitute certain moments in the film."
If he could sum up in one word the reaction he heard from those in attendance, it would be real.
"One guy came up to me and said all the events, all the acting and else everything that happened could actually happen. For actors, that can be hard to play at some points. You're ultimately playing a character that's so close to home that it becomes hard to play something so close to you, to portray that sense of reality."
Galassi also thanks executive producer Johnny Williams, who teamed up with him after reading about Galassi's work in Patch. Williams is a woodworker who recently earned a $1,000 Newtown Cultural Arts Commission grant and sponsored Youth.
"It was so nice to work with him," Galassi said. "I gained a great friend. He stuck by my side throughout the whole process."
He also thanks musicians from around the world who contributed to Youth's soundtrack, including Irish singer-songwriter Conor Ebbs, North Carolina's Indigo DeSouza, Trumbull's Gabriel Weitzman and Greece's Stellita Loukas (Galassi's aunt.)
Galassi says Youth will be available online -- and hopefully on DVD -- in the near future. In the meantime, he plans to take the film on the festival circuit this fall -- and hopefully complete at least two more short films before the end of the semester.
The Newtown Arts Festival continues through the week, culminating with a two-day, multi-stage event at Fairfield Hills Saturday and Sunday.