Friday, April 13


So, my hometown newspaper decided to run an article on yours truly...

Local screenwriter hopes to launch career at Tribeca

| Thursday, Apr 12 2007 10:15 PM

Last Updated: Thursday, Apr 12 2007 10:19 PM

It's almost something out of a movie: Small-town guy travels to ultra-hip New York City.

It's his first time on a plane.

He'll pitch his screenplay to movie industry bigwigs.

In this case, the small-town guy is played by Arvin's Erik Martinez, 29.

He and his co-producers are going to the Tribeca Film Festival to meet with film industry executives and potential investors later this month.

Martinez's screenplay, "Beyond the Mat," is part of Tribeca All Access, a program that gives minority filmmakers one-on-one meetings with Hollywood's movers and shakers.

These meetings could lead to financial backing to make a full-length film, parts of which may be filmed in Kern County, Martinez said.

The story is among 32 projects chosen from more than 300 entries for the all-access segment of the festival.

"Beyond the Mat" is a coming-of-age tale about two best friends in a small town, minority experiences in America and high school wrestling. The story idea came from director Van Pham, who Martinez knows through film school.

He didn't know his co-producers submitted the script for consideration and learned of the script's acceptance via e-mail.

"I seriously thought it was spam, some Nigerian money scam," he said.

But Martinez is confident about the script's appeal.

"I honestly feel that the film will get made and we'll all see our careers become what they are meant to become," he said.

Martinez has other projects in the works, including a western and two stories that will be published in comic book anthologies.

Longtime friend Rocio Cantu is proud of him and thinks he'll handle success well.

"Not only is he book smart, but friend-wise, he has this great ability to work well with people," she said. "He's such a positive person."

Martinez's writing interests started with "really bad poetry" in eighth and ninth grade, which turned into halfway decent short stories. He was a teen journalist at Arvin High and wrote for the student newspaper at Cal State Bakersfield.

Judith Pratt, an assistant professor of communications, advised The Runner while Martinez was on its staff as a writer and editor.

"His wheels are always turning," she said, "and much faster than a lot of other students that I've had encounters with."

Ultimately, journalism wasn't the kind of writing he wanted to do.

He transferred to the University of California, Santa Barbara, to study film. From there, he attended Chapman University's film school and has a master's in fine arts in screenwriting.

To pay the bills, Martinez tutors students and writes for a DVD Web site. His schedule gives him time to write during the day.

Martinez wants his words to express the multicultural reality he knows. He's encouraged by programs such as "Ugly Betty" and "George Lopez."

"Minorities are so underrepresented in popular culture ... there needs to be a better balance of the world we live in in our entertainment and media."