Backyard Horror Turned Into Movies

August 13, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer GR PHOTO

Chad M. Mellendick, 18, calls himself an artist whose milieu is film.

"I have trouble with a paint brush, so I paint with film," he said.

Since he was a child, he has been transferring his ideas to videocassettes.

"It started way back when an uncle let me use a video camera," he said.

Then, he tinkered with his own toy camera. With their Finksburg back yard as the backdrop, he and his stepbrother, Mark Tuminello filmed a minute-long horror skit.

"It was a guy-chased-by-a-killer thing and pretty silly," said Mr. Mellendick. "We would get in front of the camera and do stupid things. We still look at them, though."

At 14, he talked his mother, Patricia Tuminello, into financing a camcorder. His mother feared his infatuation with filmmaking would evaporate, he said, but his creative juices have kept the camera rolling.

"I am just an amateur learning from my mistakes."

Although he has become more sophisticated in subject matter, he still dabbles in the horror genre that fascinated him as a child.

"I thought the only way to entertain people was to scare and confuse them," he said.

His action film "Sleep in Heavenly Peace" aired on Channel 19, Carroll Community Television, at Christmas and won a Volly Award from the station for best first effort.

Failure Productions -- which he runs as Chad Matthews, dropping his last name and pluralizing his middle name for easy recognition -- now has about 75 films to its credit. Among them is "Time Thieves," which received an award at the Maryland State Media Festival in June and is competing in the International Media Awards. Winners will be announced next month.

The eight-minute film, which he took along to his preadmission interview at the School of Visual Arts in New York, may have helped him earn acceptance to what he calls "the best film school in the East."

With "Time Thieves," he stepped away from violence and "got more into dialogue." Filmed in the Westminster High auditorium, the movie stars his stepbrother in the role of a separate personality trapped in the mind of another person. The film ends as the hero escapes to "a dull reality."

"The judges said the movie overwhelmed and fascinated them," he said. The film, which airs on Channel 19, was one of his first attempts at script-writing.

"I used to just go along with the camera, now I make up definite scripts," he said. "Every shot is in my head before I start to write."

The Westminster High graduate often asks his friends if they want to be in his pictures.

"I may have to broaden to actors," he said with a laugh. "A lot of people are not willing to waste hours in the sun for no pay."

Weeks of planning preceded last week's shoot of "Eye-Con," the story of "a kid with a Polaroid camera which takes him anywhere he focuses."

He had one stint in front of the camera recently as an extra in John Waters' "Serial Mom."

"Kathleen Turner bumped right into me in a club scene," he said. "I don't think it will be cut."

AHe said he felt at home as an extra standing around waiting for a scene to be shot.

"It didn't seem all that different from what I do and the way I do it," he said. "There were just a lot more people and cameras."

In a few weeks, he leaves for college in New York, where he is "planning to major in film and see where it goes. If I get through film school, I can make anything," he said.

would like to avoid "the Hollywood scene," he said.

He envisions making "no major films but full-length features shown in selected cinemas."

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