Orrington native Julio DeSanctis grew up in a family that loved movies — going to them, collecting them on video, watching them on television. So it only made sense that he’d eventually follow his childhood passion for movies into a career in the film industry.
DeSanctis’ first feature film, the horror movie “Alive,” which he co-wrote and produced with Chuck McCue and which was directed by Rob Grant, will premiere on Amazon, iTunes and other streaming platforms Friday. The Bangor Drive-In hosted the Maine premiere of the film this past weekend.
The film comes none too soon for DeSanctis, 43, who professionally is known as Jules Vincent. Though he’s had several small acting roles in short films and has also worked as an assistant director, “Alive” is his first screenplay and first major film.
“The journey getting there has taken a lot longer than I expected but I’m thrilled to be at what, if I’m lucky, is the start of something more,” DeSanctis said.
The son of longtime local defense attorney Julio DeSanctis, who died in 2011, and local Methodist pastor Joan DeSanctis, the younger DeSanctis not only was a film nut growing up, he also acted in plays and musicals as a student at John Bapst Memorial High School. It took time for him to get to Hollywood, however, as DeSanctis was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011. Though he made a full recovery, he said the experience was one of several things that inspired the story that became “Alive.”
“No matter how wonderful all the nurses and doctors are to you, it doesn’t keep you from feeling trapped there, and you don’t know if or when you’ll be able to leave,” DeSanctis said. “My writing partner, Chuck McCue, and I have long brainstormed horror ideas which could put a new spin on a classic segment of the genre … It allowed for me to tap into some rather therapeutic writing of my well entrenched medical phobias.”
“Alive” tells the story of an unnamed man and woman (Thomas Cocquerel and Camille Stopps) who wake up post-surgery inside a hospital with no memory of who they are or how they got there. The only other person in the hospital is a supposed doctor (Angus MacFayden, best known for roles in “Braveheart” and “Turn: Washington’s Spies”), who subjects them to bizarre treatments until they are able to escape.
The film first hit film festivals in fall 2018, and over the course of the following year took home more than 20 awards on the festival circuit, including the Audience Award for best horror film at the 2018 Austin Film Festival. “Alive” was picked up for distribution by Cranked Up Films earlier this summer.
DeSanctis and McCue have written another script, which DeSanctis describes as an oddball comedy about the first ever world champion in professional darts, taking place in the U.K. in the 1970s. Work on getting that film produced stalled out as the pandemic struck, however.
“There were a few things in the works pre-pandemic, so as things get back to some semblance of normal hopefully those will start up again,” he said.