Festival winner

Nowhere Nevada

<i>Nowhere Nevada</i> producers Brian L. Sutherland and Nick Ramirez pose next to their award.

Nowhere Nevada producers Brian L. Sutherland and Nick Ramirez pose next to their award.

Photo/Ashley Hennefer

For more information on the film, visit www.nowherenevada.com.

Winning an award as a first-time filmmaker is rare. Winning several across the country is hard to fathom, according to Brian L. Sutherland, producer of Nowhere Nevada. As the name might imply, Nowhere Nevada is a Nevada-made film, and it’s been more than three years in the making. Recently, it won the top award—Best Feature Film—at the San Francisco Global Movie Fest, and has been accepted in other festivals around the country.

The awards are exciting, says Sutherland and fellow producer Nick Ramirez, but they also stir up bittersweet emotions. The writer of the film and Ramirez’s fiancée, Marianne Psota, passed away suddenly in 2004. Several years later, Ramirez and his friends decided to make the film a reality. The name of the production studio, Marianarchy Productions, is an homage to Psota.

“Mary would have been amazed at the response we’ve gotten,” said Ramirez. Making the film was a healing process for Psota’s loved ones, says Sutherland.

Nowhere Nevada is a feature-length film that takes place in the state, and offers no shortage of drug use, sex and crime. A trailer can be viewed on the website. When the film was shown at the San Francisco festival, it was paired with a short film, which just happened to be about the negative impact of drugs.

But Sutherland insists that Nowhere Nevada isn’t endorsing reckless drug use. “It’s about choices, and how drugs affect those choices,” he said. Regardless, he says, it’s also a “fun, rock and roll drug movie.” In another film festival, Nowhere Nevada was placed in the “Crime Films” category.

“We’d never thought of the movie in those terms,” Sutherland said.

The film has a very “Reno vibe,” says Sutherland. When asked what that means, “It’s a little bit dirty,” Ramirez said. “We’re not plastic.”

“Reno is gritty and real,” Sutherland agreed. “You have to take the good with the bad here.” He brings up the lack of competition among Nevada artists. “We’re not in this big pressure cooker. We don’t do that. We lift each other up. When one wins, we all win.”

The film is full of the quintessential Nevada imagery—featuring casinos, open roads and mysterious figures with ulterior motives. This perspective on Reno has drawn a global audience for the movie. After receiving the award in San Francisco, Sutherland said viewers were fascinated by Reno’s culture, and he was approached by Indian filmmakers who want to distribute the film. Finding a distributor that helps get the movie to the right channels is the goal, Sutherland says, and he has several possible deals in the works.

“Where it goes next is extremely important,” he says, acknowledging the efforts of the cast and crew, which consisted of more than 97 people.

Ramirez said a sequel is also possible. “Mary had created an entire universe for this story, so there’s definitely a potential for more.”

The soundtrack was a huge part of the film’s production, and Ramirez and Sutherland hope to make the soundtrack available as part of the movie distribution. Music acts from Nevada were approached to make the music, so the soundtrack features bands like Weapons of Mass Creation, Merkin and the Schizopolitans.

To make something so locally inspired receive accolades from other filmmakers is “validating and awesome,” Sutherland said. “The movie shows a contrast of Reno having little to offer.”

But there’s plenty for locals, too. “If you’re from Reno, there are a bunch of Easter eggs,” said Ramirez, many of which might take multiple viewings to notice.

Because of the positive response to the movie, Ramirez and Sutherland anticipate more national and global exposure for Reno’s film scene.

“We know the talent is here,” Sutherland says. “We want others to know it’s here.”