Trilith Studios, Georgia Film Academy help 16-year-old create Make-A-Wish sci-fi film

Dan Kelly, an instructor at the Atlanta Film Academy, co-directs Zach Breder's movie, coordinated by Trilith Studios, the film academy and Make a Wish. This was shot on Friday, June 18, 2021. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com
Caption
Dan Kelly, an instructor at the Atlanta Film Academy, co-directs Zach Breder's movie, coordinated by Trilith Studios, the film academy and Make a Wish. This was shot on Friday, June 18, 2021. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Zach Breder has had heart issues but is able to co-direct the movie with professional help.

Zach Breder is missing a right ventricle in his heart. He’s had more than 10 surgeries that have helped keep him alive into his teens, including one just six weeks ago. The 16-year-old Cartersville resident also happens to love filmmaking and had a vision to create a science fiction movie.

Make-A-Wish Georgia provides wishes for critically or chronically ailing children such as sending them to Disney World, providing an emotional support puppy or becoming a zookeeper for a day. But Zach’s wish is one of the most ambitious ones the organization has ever pulled off, working with Trilith Studios in Fayetteville (home to many a Marvel movie) and the Georgia Film Academy to make it happen. About 250 people are taking part in creating this film, which involves a full crew, special effects, sets and location shots, as well as postproduction.

The film, still unnamed, will be 15 minutes long and involves a six-day shoot with three days on the road. Zach shot scenes at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School in Fayetteville, a house on Trilith property and Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Rome. The other three days were on set at the Georgia Film Academy where full-time professionals worked side by side with students to make the film happen.

His mother Valerie said the prognosis for Zach after his latest surgery is good. “He won’t play football but I think in this industry he has as much chance as anybody,” she said, while watching her son prep a cemetery scene last Friday. “I’m so proud of him. I don’t have to keep him alive but help him grow his future now. Right now, I can take my mommy apron off and watch him be the boss.”

Dan Kelly, the manager of curriculum and instruction at the film academy, has been Zach’s primary guide on the set, offering him pointers and advice, cuing him to say “action!” and “cut!” While watching a scene where four of the actors descend some creepy stairs, Zach suggests the main camera focus on one particular person and Kelly tells the talent, “Stay close together” and informs the camera operator, “Favor Chris.”

Valerie said her son has been formulating this film for awhile. “He created an alien language and has a tattered book full of ideas,” she said.

Zach Breder (center) with some of his cast on his sci-fi movie that Make a Wish set up. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Zach Breder (center) with some of his cast on his sci-fi movie that Make a Wish set up. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIB

Credit: CONTRIB

Zach, who makes a Hitchcock-like cameo in his own film as a dead body, said he was offered a Make-A-Wish three years ago. At first, he just wanted to go on the set of Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” to meet the actors. A treehouse was considered. But it eventually crystallized into this movie because “I’ve known for quite awhile I was going to be a filmmaker.”

The premise of the movie: the lead kid Chris, his sister Emma and two friends embark on a journey to find a missing uncle they think might have been abducted by aliens.

Frank Patterson, president and CEO of Trilith Studios, said the budget for this film, if everyone was compensated at proper rates, would exceed $1 million.

In comparison, Zach’s homemade movies have prop budgets of under $100. His biggest indulgence: a fog machine he purchased from Amazon.

Some of the volunteers on the film have worked on Marvel and Harry Potter franchises.

“We’re a place where creatives fulfill their dreams, where they feel like anything is possible,” Patterson said. “That’s how we want Zach to feel.”

About the Author

ajc.com