Urbana resident and famed filmmaker Eduardo Sanchez is working hard to turn Frederick County into a hotbed of movie-making.
This summer, Sanchez, the director of 1999’s “Blair Witch Project” and several other horror flicks, spearheaded what was a short-lived campaign to film a movie at the abandoned Frederick Towne Mall.
Carl Glorioso, director of the Frederick Film Office, approached Sanchez and his partners about shooting a movie at the mall before it was torn down.
“It’s an empty mall; it’s a horror filmmaker’s dream. It’s filled with dark corners, and back alleys, and remnants of civilization, basically,” he said.
The location inspired the idea for “The Maulers,” an action horror movie about a group of kids who throw a party in an abandoned mall in the middle of an abandoned community that fell apart during the housing crisis.
“And basically, they go into this rave. … Then things start going badly for them, and you realize these people have set a trap to kill as many people as they can,” he said.
Sanchez, who grew up in Takoma Park, Md., said the Frederick Towne Mall was his first choice for location due to its proximity to his home and the “center of creativity” that Frederick County has become for artists. Sadly, after much work, Sanchez said he was not able to a mutually beneficial agreement with the Frederick Towne Mall. While he is currently scouting other locations, Sanchez said his plan for “The Maulers” is still to use all Maryland actors, cast and crew.
“There’s an amazing number of talented people around here,” he said. “People are so eager here and have this really great energy. … There are a lot of talented filmmakers in this area.
“All of these projects that take me away from Frederick, take me away from the family, you have to do it sometimes, but I’d much prefer to make my living here. It’s much better for me professionally and obviously personally.”
Sanchez said he is working with the Frederick Film Office to qualify for state tax incentives for local filmmakers filming movies in the state. He added he is exploring the idea of creating a production hub of sorts in the area, allowing filmmakers to shoot, edit and complete their film products locally.
“I would love the idea of being able to build something here in Frederick County,” he said. “I think the thing that would really help Frederick … is a soundstage. If we had a soundstage, especially a soundstage with a green screen, we could attract so much more production.”
He said he likes the idea of making movies in the area, because it allows him to come home to his family at the end of the day. Sanchez and his wife have three kids — a 12-year-old daughter, 9-year-old son and 4-year-old son.
“For them, they like the idea of the making movies in Maryland because they know I’ll be around,” he said, adding his daughter has been involved in some of his movie projects in the past and is excited to potentially be a part of “The Maulers.”
In addition to “Maulers,” Sanchez has several projects in the works, including writing, with his partner, “The Quest,” a reality show for ABC coming out in January, which Sanchez described as “Lord of the Rings meets Survivor.” He is also working on “Exists,” a movie to be released potentially next year about friends who go to the woods for a weekend and are stalked by Bigfoot. Additionally, he’s collaborating with a local writer on the sci-fi horror movie called “Portal,” which he said he hopes to shoot at Fort Richie.
Sanchez also wrote and directed a 12-minute movie called “A Ride in the Park” for V/H/S/2, a sequel horror anthology movie that was released in June in theaters and video-on-demand.
“I love making movies, and I’m a pretty lucky guy that I get to make a living doing that,” he said. “The art of directing, at least for me, is finding the right people; … giving them enough information and enough inspiration to get into the material; and then kind of letting them go, and letting them find their own way to a certain extent.”