CSU Film Students Sell Their Movie to Revolutionary Distributor

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On the Moonshine Kingdom set.
  • On the Moonshine Kingdom set.

Milton Horowitz, 32, a recent alum of the CSU film program, and Ryan Forte, 21, a current senior, boarded an airplane to L.A. a few hours after they’d finished the final edits on their movie Moonshine Kingdom. They’d made some DVD screeners and intended to pitch their low-budget action flick to studio executives at the 2013 American Film Market Convention.

Horowitz and Forte bought tickets to the convention as exhibitors — which they were not — in order to get a list of potential clients.

“We were pretty guerilla in our tactics,” Horowitz says in a phone interview. “We literally were knocking on doors. A lot of people, I mean, Sony was like ‘we don’t take unsolicited screeners. Get outta here. But other people were like, ‘you guys are pretty ballsy.’”

Ultimately, a company called NanoTech Entertainment bought the rights. NanoTech is a media conglomerate which leverages sophisticated new technologies in its distribution methods. It will make Moonshine Kingdom the first film to stream in 4K on its Nuvola NP-1 device (which runs on Android operating software) later this month.

That sounds like gibberish to most folks, and Forte acknowledges that at this point 4K viewers are still a niche market, but but he’s excited about the opportunity nonetheless.

“Literally the only way to view our movie is in the highest quality available,” he says.

Not to be confused with Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom — “We thought that would help,” admits Horowitz. — Moonshine Kingdom follows the travails of an Amish man who is shunned by his community after military service overseas. He stumbles into the underground world of “shining” and the violent, racially charged feuds it engenders in the Amish foothills.


Forte and Horowitz, both from Mayfield, shot their film on location in Cleveland and in rural Huntsburg, Ohio. They rented equipment from Dodd Camera (where Forte works) and Fletcher in Detroit (recently acquired by VER) and spent three months mining Cleveland’s theater scene for top talent.

The film’s $32,000 budget was supplied in large part by an Israeli investor who runs a network of gold and jewelry shops in the Cleveland area.

“We made a commercial for him, which never made it on TV,” says Forte, “but then he was like, ‘do you want to make a movie?”

Horowitz sees the experience as an incredible stepping stone. He’s already working on a script — potentially involving the Horseshoe Casino — which he and Forte hope to develop soon. He’s also applying for admittance at the American Film Institute.

“I sold my first film in Hollywood the same semester I graduated,” says the CSU film product, “so that’s pretty exciting. It’s just almost ironic that the first 4K streaming movie is all about Amish people. ”

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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