Photos courtesy of Digital Nitrate
A new film collective is making its mark on the Portland metro film scene, and it’s diving into several different genres and platforms. Digital Nitrate was founded in 2015 by Matthew Merz, a local filmmaker with a drive to develop a film incubator in the region.
One of Digital Nitrate’s spotlight projects is Solus, a time travel-themed web series that evokes a dystopic, melancholy vibe reminiscent of French science fiction. The series was originally developed by fellow Digital Nitrate member Nate Losinger, who shot four original episodes in his garage, acting in four different roles and engineering his own CG for the series.
Solus is being rebooted under the Digital Nitrate banner with six episodes and redesigned CG. “We’re very excited to get the show out there,” says Merz. A new episode of Solus will be released every other week in Winter 2016, with the first season utilizing five actors and the second season calling for about 20 actors.
Matthew Merz’s career in media production solidified in the mid-2000s with a Portland-based public access TV show called Drinking with Darren. The program, which Merz produced, featured the host visiting breweries and pubs in the region. As the TV show gained notoriety, it expanded to include a weekly appearance on the former KUFO radio station at 101.1 FM in Portland.
Merz also expanded his own projects, working on documentaries and features over the next several years. As he worked, he began to recognize the need for increased collaborative efforts in the local film community. In 2015, Merz and some of his collaborators launched Digital Nitrate, a filmmaking collective, with the intention of pooling talent and resources to ensure that the collective’s media makers would have consistent work. “We want to be able to make three or four pictures a year so everyone can have a job year-round,” says Merz.
The collective has seven screenplays at some stage of development, with location scouting starting on Galactic Rush, an homage to ‘80s teen movies. Aesthetically, the film will feature three landscapes: the rolling hills of Central Washington, palm trees, and a seaside town like Astoria. “Teenagers miss color. They live in a world of endless war with nothing to inherit,” comments Merz. “They’re looking for a brighter future.” Merz hopes that this film and others like it will bring color back to the world.
Digital Nitrate also recognizes the potential—financially and creatively—of the low-budget horror genre. The collective is working on Malibu Sleepover Massacre, a “Lloyd Kaufman-inspired USA Up All Night-type movie.” Merz says, “There is a loss of psychological fear in many horror films these days.” Malibu Sleepover Massacre, according to Merz, recaptures some of this fear in a psychological twist at the end of the movie. The added benefit, according to Merz, is that “these cheaper budget films help establish our track record.”
“Our goal is to unify people under a single banner,” Merz pledges. “We want to find success for at least one of us.” The hope, of course, is that the entire collective will succeed.
Visit www.digitalnitrate.com for more information and to watch the Solus web series.