One of the days that Travis Andre Ross has been preparing for, for years, is finally approaching. The Gustine High 1999 alumni’s first feature film “Central Valley” will be playing at the State Theatre in Modesto on Aug. 4. The movie has been in the works for many years from first conception, to script, to production, post production and final cut. Since being “put in the can” so to speak, in February, Ross has been busy in the film festival circuit introducing his movie in Sedona Arizona, Hollywood and Los Angeles California, Dubuque Iowa, St. Petersburg Florida, and Long Beach Island New Jersey.
“Central Valley” was awarded Best Actor, Best Young Actor and the Audience Choice Award at First Glance Film Festival in Los Angeles. The film won the Audience Choice Award at the Lighthouse International Film Festival in New Jersey, also. “That award is the highest to me because it comes directly from the people watching the movie,” Ross described.
Being accepted to the film festivals is no easy feat. Receiving the official selection is a distinction in itself and receiving an award is another level, especially for a new-comer in the industry.
The festivals offer opportunities to build contacts, to network, to speak first hand to others about his movie. He is passionate about the story his film tells. Being relatively unknown in the industry he has to open his own doors, get his foot in, and do the leg work. He enjoys the work. He believes in the power of his movie and enjoys speaking with people.
At the Lighthouse festival in June, Ross met a woman who has been a film critic for 30 years. She watched his film. “I’ve always known it’s a good film but when she told me she was taken aback by it, that the film left her at a loss for words initially, that was a different level of validation for me,” Ross proudly acknowledged.
So far, since completing the film in February and having it played in six festivals, Ross has received two offers for “Central Valley.” He hasn’t accepted either yet but feels positive about making a deal by the end of the year, keeping his options open for a bit longer. He anticipates the movie being eventually shown in select theaters and/or streaming services.
With the film festivals breaking for the summer, a window of opportunity opened to find a venue for a special viewing. Ross reached out to the State Theatre management, who were thrilled to accommodate. “I was hoping to bring the film to the central valley this summer,” Ross mentioned, before the festivals pick up again in the fall.
The chance to bring the film to the area near where the original story took place and the film was primarily shot, was important to Ross. “I look forward to sharing the film with friends and family who are much a part of this story,” Ross expressed. He is grateful to Gabi Guerrini, the General Manager of the State Theatre, offering the special one-time viewing.
Ross wrote, produced and starred in the film which is based on true events of his own life. The film was mostly shot in Santa Nella, Gustine, Newman and Patterson where the storyline took place in real life.
The film’s story is personal to Ross; Moreso the message the film reflects is personal. The story is based on his own upbringing, the choices he made and the struggles he endured. Viewers will find there are many layers to be revealed throughout the story but the overall message is simply, learn to love yourself. “The ending may just surprise people,” Ross told Westside Connect in an earlier interview.
The film summary posted online reads, “When his younger brother suddenly passes away, Tim, a 35-year-old drug peddler who has never been able to take care of himself properly, must decide what to do with his 10-year-old nephew: let him go into foster care, or rise to the occasion and straighten his life out.”
Ross credits his co-stars Joseph David Jones and Gabrielle Walsh, their director Niv Klainer and his co-executive/producer Todd James Myers. “If our film can help even one person out there, our goal was achieved,” the film maker stresses.
The movie has not been rated yet but Ross said he doesn’t believe it is appropriate for kids. There is foul language and drug use. The audience demographic is 18-40 years-old.
Showtime at the State Theater is 7 p.m. on August 4th. The run-time is 90 minutes. Tickets cost $10 and may be purchased online at thestate.org or in person at the box office weekdays 12-3 p.m. Call 209 527-4697 for more information about the State Theatre or visit the website.