Teen creates film from bullying incident
Most 7-year-olds love watching movies, but how many of them decide to star in movies – and then actually do it?
Alec Ybarra was age 7 when he appeared as an extra in his first film.
"It was a short film and a Colorado Film School project. By age 7, I had decided I wanted to be an actor," said Alec, who is now 14.
He said his parents, Lauren and Fred Ybarra, didn't push him into acting; it was his own idea. His dad lived in this area and attended Culver High School from 1979-81. The family now lives in Denver, Colorado.
Alec was asked to be a background extra in a few more short films, then graduated to supporting roles in the movies "B12," a 2013 adventure-comedy, and "Heaven Sent," directed by Michael Landon Jr., which appeared on the Lifetime Channel in 2016.
While his acting career was going well, things were in turmoil at school, where he was being bullied.
The situation got so bad that he changed schools, then was inspired to make a movie about what he had been through.
The result is "Unmarked," an independent film, which he wrote, directed, and acted in, and which has won several awards.
"The movie is based on a true story that occurred to me over one year," he said, explaining, "I was friends with a person who stole money from me. The person's mom made up lies about me and went into my school and turned everybody against me."
Alec said his new school, Parker Performing Arts, where he is now an eighth-grader, is great and very supportive of his filmmaking effort.
"I was 12 when I wrote the script. I wrote it in two days and it's 100 pages long," he said.
To finance the film, Alec said his parents helped a lot, and he used a website called Seed&Spark to launch a crowd-funding campaign. There were also some private investors.
The script required 30 actors with speaking parts and 70 background extras for the school scenes.
"I had connections from my past film work, and I used a Facebook post for a casting call for Denver area actors. I hosted auditions for all 100 parts and then cast the actors," he said. He also hired a composer to create the film's musical score.
By age 13, Alec was shooting and directing the film, which was filmed in the Parker and Castle Rock areas, near Denver. It took one month to film, then he spent half a year editing the movie. "From writing the script to the final cut took 1 1/2 years," he said.
He submitted the finished product, "Unmarked," to numerous film festivals, where it has garnered several awards including: Winner of the American Filmatic Arts Awards, and Official Selection of the Los Angeles Film Awards, both in 2017; and Finalist in the Los Angeles CineFest, and Honorable Mention: Young Director in the Festigious Los Angeles International Film Festival, and Official Selection at the Oniros Film Awards in Aosta, Italy, both in 2018.
Trailers of the film can be seen on YouTube under the title "Unmarked antibullying film official trailers one, and two." "Combined, the trailers have had 50,000 views," he noted.
Asked if he'd had any reaction to the movie from the woman who caused his bullying, Alec said that was not the point.
"My goal in making the movie was not to get a reaction. It was to teach others to stand up for themselves. To take a negative situation and turn it into a career starter and something positive," he said.
He is now working on distributing the film. "My goal is to have 'Unmarked' in select theaters early this year," he said. Alec is eyeing a career in filmmaking and noted, "I have another film project in development."