Persistence pays off – just ask Anthony Riazzi.
The New Mexico-based filmmaker began the project “Biomass” in 2012.
Nearly a decade later, the film premiered at the Cinequest Film Festival last week. The online festival wrapped up on March 30.
“It’s been a really long process getting to this stage,” he says. “We shot this in 2012, and the big issue for this film is that it was very visual effects, heavy. There are 400 visual effects in the film.”
Riazzi also had to take a break from postproduction of the film to earn a living.
“The last two years, it’s been a sprint to finish,” he says. “The pandemic gave me some more time to get the film completed.”
“Biomass” tells the story of a whistleblower who leaks a disturbing video of human experimentation from a secret biological research lab and then disappears. His friends, a local news reporter and a pair of amateur bloggers decide to find the lab and their friend while recording all the events.
Their journey takes them to a remote site in the New Mexico desert where they access a bizarre labyrinth of underground tunnels. When they realize a biological contaminant has afflicted all the workers with a mysterious disease, what started as a rescue mission turns into a fight for survival and escape.
The film stars Juliet Lopez, Brenden Wedner, Matt Page, and Alejandro Montoya Marín, as well as Steve Cormier, Katalina Parrish, Zach Dulin, Matt Berlin and Nomar Rizo.
“I tried to keep all of the cast aware of the status of the film,” Riazzi says. “Many of the cast members have gone on to make their own lane in the film industry. It’s been amazing to look back nearly a decade and see how far everyone has come.”
“Biomass” is Riazzi’s first feature film. He has decades in the film industry, mostly working in digital and visual effects on projects such as “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “Resident Evil: Extinction.” He was the technical director of “The Matrix Revolutions.”
Riazzi also wrote the screenplay for “Biomass” and produced alongside former Disney executive Alicia J. Keyes, who is now New Mexico economic development secretary.
Riazzi says the production filmed over 14 days in three weeks.
“We did two five-day weeks and then one four-day week,” he says. “We kept our actors on a strict eight-hour day. It was a small production with big end results.”
Riazzi hopes to submit it to other film festivals and is hopeful it will become available on streaming platforms.