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Up in the air with Alex Fortmann

Young man earns major film awards


by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Alex Fortmann in May landed top honors at the Singapore International Student Film Festival for his movie, Flight.A young man with Lake Oswego roots returned home last week laden with silver-screen laurels.

Alex Fortmann, who just graduated from the Singapore American School with a 4.15 GPA, landed top honors at the Singapore International Student Film Festival in May for his movie “Flight,” taking home awards for “Best Overall Production” and “Best High School Narrative.” “Flight” relates Fortmann’s boyhood dream of gliding through the air and was selected to be screened at the National Film Festival for Talented Youth, held this April in Seattle.

And, like the proverbial maraschino cherry on top, he’s been accepted into New York University’s film production program at Tisch School of the Arts. He begins this fall.

The concept for Fortmann’s award-winning movie came while he was penning answers to college essay prompts that asked about his passion. Moved to put down a smart-alecky response for fun, he came up with the idea of “flying” as his passion — in the Superman sense of the word, a love birthed from the sweet daydreams of childhood.by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Alex Fortmann lived in Singapore for seven and a half years, spending summers and holidays in Lake Oswego. Before heading to Singapore for high school and middle school, Fortmann attended Forest Hills Elementary School.

Fortmann says flight for him soon transformed into “a metaphor for creativity and inspiration,” and a film idea hatched. He realized he had always loved taking wing, and it shaped who he is.

At one point in his “Flight” voiceover narrative, Fortmann says, “I found that drifting into the sky helped me to see things from a different perspective. Whenever I got upset or felt hurt about something, I tried not to let my feet touch the ground.”

Written, filmed and edited by Fortmann,the film describes how his love for flying became more complex with adulthood, exemplified through his filmography, fascination with mechanics and finessing of ivory keys. Fortmann composed and performed a gentle, classical piano piece to accompany the quiet narrative that overlays scenes of a joyous boy in a red cape and a young man seated before a baby grand or wielding a screwdriver.

“Though now I find myself grounded in more realities than I do in dreams, I still enjoy exploring a landscape of imagination, and in those quiet moments I still find a place to fly,” he says, hitting a powerful chord on the piano to signal the end of the film.

The film’s star, Ethan Nesbitt, silently acts out a series of activities awash with the golden hue of memory: playing with Legos, coloring, riding a swing into the sky. Fortmann or a body double plays him in his young-adult incarnation. Fortmann says he chose Nesbitt because he’s a family friend.by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Alex Fortmann not only is academically head-and-shoulders above most students but literally is head-and-shoulders above most other students at 6 feet, 1 inch tall.

“I picked him because we knew him beforehand, and it’s always good to know your actor before you film,” Fortmann says.

With his YouTube channel, FortmannFilms, Fortmann offers up his other movies, such as his senior video and a promo for a movie one of his middle school teachers, David Hevey, nearly completed before dying of cancer. Hevey’s wife finished it for him.

Fortmann remembers tinkering with a little video camera borrowed from his mom when he was in the seventh grade, and how encouraging Hevey was. Now, the 18-year-old packs a Nikon Digital SLR D600, which he shares with his father. His dad is Intel’s human resources manager for the Asia region and the main reason why Fortmann lived in Singapore for seven and a half years, spending summers and holidays in Lake Oswego. Before heading to Singapore for high school and middle school, Fortmann attended Forest Hills Elementary School.

As a high schooler, Fortmann unsurprisingly was in the National Honor Society and served as president of Film Society, but he also pursued another passion as president and co-founder of the Electronic Vehicles Club. He and his friends never did finish restoring that old electric golf cart, but he learned a lot doing it.

He also loves writing, which is as integral to film as music, he says.

His mother, Linda Fortmann, says it has been fantastic to see him honored for his film work.

“This is something that he loves to do, so he spends hours and hours on it, and it’s really neat to see him recognized for that,” she says.

Has Fortmann achieved so much because of all his practice flying?

“My time soaring through the air was a time when I could be whoever I wanted to be and do whatever I wanted to do,” he says in “Flight.” “When I learned how to fly, I became empowered to reach heights I never knew existed, and with flight behind me, anything was possible.”

View it

See Alex Fortmann’s film at www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbHUHKDYAck.


By Jillian Daley
Reporter
503-636-1281, ext. 109
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