Sonoma State University senior Alex Bretow was working on the set of a new Steve Jobs biography film when he got the email on March 16: "Congratulations, you've been officially accepted into the Cannes CMF program!" Says Bretow, "I literally ran outside and was jumping up and down."
When the producer/director called his filmmaking partner and fellow SSU student, writer/producer Mary-Madison Baldo, she had a similar reaction "I literally screamed," she says. "I was home for spring break, so I tripped up the stairs yelling, 'Mom!' She came out of her bedroom in a panic because she thought that I had hurt myself or something."
Both are appropriate reactions to finding out you've had not one, but two films selected for the most prestigious film festival in the world this May.
"It came as a shock to us, and we're extremely honored by the news," says Bretow.
The two films (out of the five that the duo submitted) won first and second place in the Campus Moviefest at Sonoma State, in addition to best horror film and best actress. Both films are in the Campus Moviefest Film Festival, which takes place July 9-12 in Hollywood.
The project challenged student filmmakers to make a five-minute movie in a week. The action-thriller "Snake Eyes" was filmed in three days outside of Palmdale, Calif., and "Rampage," a horror flick, was filmed in a day in Forestville and features fellow SSU students Anna Luna, Kayley Kemp, Charlie Baker and Jason Weiss in the film. "We both love horror films," says Bretow.
"To have stories that I have written and characters I have created leap onto the screen and be seen in front of such a large audience is both thrilling and terrifying," says Baldo. "I'm over the moon about it, truly."
The junior, who is double majoring in English and early childhood studies, has been writing stories since childhood. She moved from New York to Los Angeles at age 11, and hadn't really been to the Bay Area before attending Sonoma State. Aside from the Cannes selection, she says her proudest moment is singing a solo with her school choir in Carnegie Hall at age 17.
Bretow, a senior business major at Sonoma State, hails from Oakland, and has been making films since he was a young child. He also played bass in an East-Bay band and took some film classes in high school. He currently works for an Emmy-winning production company in San Francisco.
Since releasing their two award-winning films, the SSU filmmakers have started their own production company, Baldo-Bretow Pictures.
They've also created a GoFundMe page to raise the $11,000 it will take to get to the festival in the South of France.
Watch "Rampage" here:
Watch "Snake Eyes" here: