Maxx C. Merlo decided to attend one of Hart High School choir’s performances on a whim and to support one of the school’s organizations.
As he looked around, he noticed a lack of his fellow students.
“I thought it was a shame because a lot of the people on campus didn’t really know about the show choir programs or about the auditorium and its events in general, because I didn’t see a lot of students there,” said Merlo. “I thought more people should know about it.”
Merlo got out of his seat when the show was over to congratulate his peers and discovered the world behind the curtains.
“I went back to just say hi to them behind the stage after the curtains closed after the show and it was like a whole world back there,” said Merlo. “I thought that was really cool.”
Merlo left the Hart auditorium with inspiration he wasn’t expecting – to create a film about stage craft.
Merlo is a student filmmaker who was, at the time, looking for his next big project.
He took the inspiration he got from that night and combined it with his want to release music. Thus “A Snowfall” was born.
“A Snowfall” is an original Christmas musical about a kid who wants to be on the stage in the school’s production of “Elf” the musical and how he copes with being overlooked.
The film has five original songs, with one being a cover. All were written and produced by Merlo, who is self-taught in guitar and piano.
Merlo described the film as his “biggest undertaking.” The cast of 26 including Hart students, Academy of the Canyons students and College of the Canyons students was the largest cast Merlo had worked with.
He even recruited an employee at Ooh La La Panini to be a part of his film.
It took six months to create from start to finish, forcing Merlo to make Christmas every filming day.
“When you watch the movie, it just looks like Christmas everywhere because I had all these Christmas decorations that I brought myself,” said Merlo. “Like stuff that even my family uses for Christmas every December.”
He was hanging lights, dusting snow across surfaces and setting up decorations for hours on end.
Merlo felt that creating this film was his best experience as a filmmaker yet.
“It just really made me see a lot more production that I never probably would have seen if I just went and got coffee for people on a film set or did anything like that,” said Merlo.
After months and months of not showing anyone but family and a few friends, Merlo debuted his film at Hart High School’s student film movie night on May 26, a student-run event and student-held fundraiser.
“It was honestly magical,” said Merlo. “It was really cool because a lot of the jokes were landing and people were really engaged and I had a really good crowd. After people just came up to me and they’re like, ‘We really liked it.’ And I was like, ‘That’s super cool. I’m really glad you liked it,’ because, I mean, I was a little worried that they would be expecting a lot.”
The fundraiser raised $269 for both Hart TV and Hart Theater.
To watch “A Snowfall,” visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK-80jdekAw. To listen to the “A Snowfall” soundtrack, visit open.spotify.com/album/6Nxxwqh7NOAT0EieRUBkhi?si=zQUOpfcvS_2dtdq87DMVpA.