WESTPORT — Over the past 20 years, Vincente DiSanti has gone from being the 2002 Standard Times Athlete of the Year to “Mr. Friday the 13th” for his thriller, “Never Hike Alone.”
“In sports, I always wore 13 for my football or baseball number…everything was 13,” DiSanti, 38, said.
The Westport local said he lives near a pond, which he thinks is a perfect hideout for Jason Voorhees, the murderous villain of the “Friday the 13th” franchise. “I loved horror movies. I grew up watching all of Jason’s movies,” he said.
“As I got older, that’s really what led me to want to work in film because I just wanted to know how these films were made.”
In 2017, DiSanti attended Worcester State University majoring in television and film production. After graduating, a friend invited him to Los Angeles to help the visual effects team on the set of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
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“I was getting Chinese food for all the artists that made Brad Pitt look like an 80-year-old,” DiSanti joked.
His goal was to work his way through the industry and eventually stumble upon a “Friday the 13th” project. However, the franchise hit a wall around the same time.
“It had been in development for almost eight years, because they kept canceling movie after movie and going back to the drawing board,” he said.
So instead of waiting, DiSanti decided to make his own movie.
Make a fan film
“I just got tired of waiting, and I was like, you know what, I’m just going to have fun and do it myself,” he said.
He started a production company called Womp Stomp Films and started out hanging out with fellow filmmakers on the weekends, riding in a van on Fridays, riding in the California mountains, taking photos and filming concept scenes, with DiSanti in disguise. as a villain. Jason voorhees.
The band then stumbled across an abandoned camp, like it was straight out of a campy 80s slasher movie. “It was its own horror movie unto itself,” DiSanti said.
“As an independent filmmaker, you don’t like big sets, you don’t have access to a lot of things.”
He said it was where his fan movie, “Never Hike Alone,” was born.
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Producing a fan film does not infringe any copyright issues; in fact, it falls under the Fair Use Copyright Act as long as it’s clear the filmmakers are making a fan movie within the official title or tagline.
The film can make money, but cannot generate profit. Money earned from fan films usually goes to charity or is put back into another budget to make future fan films.
There are also a few additional rules that are on a case-by-case basis for the fan film being produced, such as not being able to use actors from the original film. However, DiSanti said the creators of the “Friday the 13th” franchise are pretty relaxed with additional restrictions. For example, in the DiSanti fan film, actor Tom Matthews, who appeared in “Friday the 13th, Part Six,” made a cameo.
Fan film premiere
In 2017, the 55-minute film premiered at the Telluride Horror Show on its Friday, October 13 launch day. DiSanti said he was nervous. “We didn’t know if that concept would translate because it wasn’t a body count movie,” he said, adding that there were no girls running through a death scene. bloody or shirtless with tons of fake blood.
“For me, I just wanted to make a ‘Friday the 13th’ movie that was scary again, that made Jason scary again and focused on that.”
The film was an overnight success with incredible reviews such as Birth Movie Death writing, “This is the well done product of someone who truly loves, understands and fears Jason Voorhees.”
Viral Youtube channel Dead Meat, known for videos tallying “death counts” for movies with a comedic narrative by host James A. Janisse, reviewed “Never Hike Alone,” skyrocketing the number of viewers of their film to millions.
Currently, the number of views on the fan film is 3.5 million views.
Shortly after the premiere, the “Friday the 13th” franchise encountered another hurdle when its planned film was scrapped by Paramount after its previous horror flick “The Ring Two” flopped at the box office.
“They looked at Friday the 13th and said, you know what, we’re not making a $25 million bomb. They canceled Friday the 13th,” DiSanti said.
Then in 2019, the future of the franchise suffered another blow when it was sued for copyright by original screenwriter Victor Miller.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, there is a provision in copyright law that allows authors, after waiting 35 years, to reclaim copyrighted material by ending subsidies. They have been on trial ever since.
So DiSanti took the opportunity to keep fans filming by turning to crowdfunding websites to raise $200,000 to budget for their next movie.
But just as they were about to start production in California, the pandemic hit.
“We went into the pandemic, not really knowing what was going on, I had three more movies planned, but I was putting them on hold until we knew more about what was going on,” he said. she stated.
On the set of ‘Finestkind’ in New Bedford
In 2022, DiSanti moved back to Westport to be with his family. “I wanted to spend some quality time at home because I’ve been away for 14 years,” he added.
Upon his return, he learned that “Finestkind” would be filming in Fairhaven and was able to do so on set as a production assistant.
“It was a breath of fresh air. I felt like I was on a set in Los Angeles but I was in my backyard,” DiSanti said. “And that’s what I always wanted…that experience to be able to shoot here.”
He said it was great to see Oscar-winning director Brian Helgeland working with his team. “When you watch these people work, you see the efficiency happening at the highest level, you can take those nuggets of knowledge and then bring them to your smaller ensemble.”
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DiSanti said he would like to discover more local filmmakers in the SouthCoast area. “I want to meet all these people,” he said. “When people start working together, they want to stay together and they keep those teams working together for as long as they do.”
He hopes to start producing other projects in the area and hopefully put it on the map as a place to come and film.
For now, DiSanti will be releasing another fan flick, “Never Hide from the Snow,” and will return to Los Angeles in the spring of 2023, to begin filming a sequel to “Never Hike Alone.”
On June 5, Womp Stomp Films announced that it is also teaming up with Mako Animation to present the first-ever “Friday the 13th” animated film titled “Ghost in the Fog.”
“If someone has a passion to do something in their life, don’t wait, do it, find it, and find the people who are going to take that journey with you,” DiSanti added.
“I wanted to do something, and I just jump in and see where it takes me. And it got me here. I love it.”
Standard-Times editor Seth Chitwood can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.