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Alberto Achar Talks Fantasy Film Design on Intrepid

Achar on set

Remember when the pairings of the biggest stars for films was the trend? While this provided opening weekend box office sales, it did not result in films with “legs.” The DNA of successful films has inverted with many of the major studios taking on the affect of Indie films. This is good for audiences and creative professionals in the industry because creative boundaries have exponentially expanded. We find ourselves in an era where the lines between big budget productions and smaller funded films are in justifiable competition with each other. While artists shudder at the word [competition], it’s undeniable that this is a benevolent effect as it offers greater freedom to said artists. The latest of films proving this premise is the Adventure/Fantasy Intrepid. Director Alexa Tuttle’s vision (written by Tuttle and Bryce Cyrier) is an entertaining adventure into the popular world of youth sorcerers. It doesn’t take a Rowling novel or a bespectacled Daniel Radcliffe to send audiences rushing to their seats for this genre. If the Potter ($7 Billion net) and Tolkien ($6 Billion net) film franchises have taught us anything, it’s that a great story with a dazzling presentation in this genre has a limitless audience.

The reality of creating a film that holds its own with mega-budget fantasy productions is overwhelming. Intrepid’s production designer Alberto Achar had the mammoth task of manifesting this fantasy world envisioned by Tuttle on a fraction of the aforementioned franchises. Creativity is the engine of artists such as Achar and his team. The subject matter of this film would exercise every bit of that ability. Intrepid is the story of Hazel, a witch who is a student at a prestigious university of magic. In order to graduate, she must pass three trials that encompass highly advanced use of spells. Unable to perfect the final trial, Hazel breaks into the university’s library to steal Merlin’s spell book to obtain answers. When the library comes to life in order to protect the book, Hazel must use her wit and magic skills to escape. It’s only when she sacrifices that which she wants most that she proves herself to the governing body of the school.

While VFX definitely played a role in the visual world of Intrepid, the largest percentage of the audience buying into this world was the general appearance of the university. The school needed to communicate a sense of history while still being relevant. As a living organism, the school library created the greatest challenge for the production team. Remarkably, Achar split his design for the library between two locations; a soundstage and a Mexican restaurant. Alberto describes, “There are a lot of VFX in this movie, it’s a requirement for films of this genre, but we knew from the beginning that I’d be in charge of designing and creating the bookshelves that come to life and chase Hazel.” In a coordinated dance involving practical effects powered by dollies, casters, and ever reliable real human beings, the menacing library of Intrepid proves that sometimes tradition exceeds beyond digital trickery. Director Alexa Tuttle was enthusiastic about Achar’s designs proclaiming, “Alberto’s approach is creative and inspiring! He was able to build a believable fantasy world with limited resources and a tight budget. He’s crafty, resourceful, intelligent, positive, inspiring and, perhaps most importantly, fun!”

Intrepid has already earned a number of awards including Best Action/Thriller/Sci-Fi at the LA Independent Film Festival Awards, Best Short Film at the KaPow Intergalactic Film Festival, and others. Upon viewing, one understands that skillful storytelling supersedes all other factors in filmmaking. As it makes a path across the planet at various festivals, this film continues to accumulate fans and comparisons to some well-established productions. Casey Ruggieri (lead judge of the Los Angeles Film Awards) stated about Intrepid, “If Harry Potter had an older, sassier, American sister, it would be Hazel from Intrepid. A delightful film with all of the favorite elements fans of the genre know and love! Alexa Tuttle directs a charming cast headed by Valerie Rose Lohman. The score, art direction, and design flow seamlessly, creating a mysterious and magical world audiences are sure to be enraptured with!"

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