By Rich Henrich
Sound the horns! Call in the jesters…the sons of Gondor have returned! You will be hard pressed to find anyone as proud to call the Coachella Valley home as award winning Hollywood director, Christian Sesma. The Valley native returns to share another film from his rapidly growing library of action cinema. The screening will be free and open to the public on a first come first serve basis and will include a star-studded red carpet.
FILMWEALTH.COM and several local businesses have come together to present the special event and screening of Vigilante Diaries at Mary Pickford Theatre in Cathedral City on June 18th.
Christian Sesma and former desert TV personality and actor/producer Mike Hatton will be in attendance as well as appearances by stars Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (UFC, The A-Team), Michael Jai White (Spawn, Black Dynamite), Chavo Gurrerro (WWE legend), Paul Sloan (I am Wrath), and more. “I like to make it a habit to bring back the films I make to the Coachella Valley to say ‘thank you’ to the community that helped support me for all these years,” says Sesma. The screening will take place a couple days prior to the Palm Springs International Short Fest, the one that gave Christian the first taste of screening his work before an audience. “It always feels great to share my work with my friends and family here,” he adds.
In addition to Vigilante Diaries, Sesma also has two more films set for release later this year. “I’ve been working hard! I have a film I did with SyFy/ Starz coming out soon and another one that I can’t say much about but that one is with Universal,” the sense of accomplishment echoes in his voice. With such a demanding schedule, Sesma has turned to CrossFit to meet the grueling demands of production. “The days are long and require a lot of stamina. Rampage and White are pretty serious athletes, you know, so it’s like keep up with the Kardashians!” This event will allow the community to see the film just before the film goes into wide release.
‘Vigilante Diaries,’ is set to be unveiled on June 18th at 7:30pm at the Mary Pickford Theatre in Cathedral City in a one night only event hosted by the film’s director, Christian Sesma and the film’s producer and co-star, Mike Hatton. “It’s a first come first serve event but it is free to the public and portion of the concessions will be donated to Variety Children’s Club of the Desert,” beams Mr. Sesma, a believer in philanthropy. The screening will take place one week before the international release of the film. Anchor Bay Entertainment (a Starz Company) has announced it will distribute the highly anticipated action comedy this summer in select theaters and on iTunes on June 24, before expanding to On Demand, Blu-ray and DVD on July 5.
Sesma, a life-long valley resident and Hollywood filmmaker frequently screens his films locally as a way to give back to those who supported and encouraged him when he was first starting out. “This is the same theatre I see movies in with my friends and family, so it’s only fitting that I show them my latest film as a ‘thank you’ for their continued support,” he says. In 2014, Sesma was presented with the Hillery Vision Award by AMFM FEST, in recognition of an individual with a vision for a future yet to be built and the entrepreneurial spirit and drive to achieve great heights. There is no doubt; Christian Sesma is still climbing while remaining grounded in his roots.
Hatton, a former reporter for CBS 2’s Eye on the Desert, met Sesma on an audition for Christian’s first Palm Springs based feature, “6:30.” The pair have collaborated on 7 feature films together and have several more in the works. Hatton added, “The desert is where Christian and I started working together. Now that we both work in Los Angeles, it feels good to bring our biggest project right back where it all began.” Aside from their local ties, several scenes in the film were shot in the Coachella Valley and the film featured several local talent, including local actress Mara Fimbres and KMIR-TV’s Gino LaMonte, Thalia Hayden, and David Reese.
After the screening, attendees will have a chance to speak with the cast and filmmakers at a Q&A moderated by KMIR-TV’s Dan Ball as well as attend an after party with the cast at a location to be disclosed at the screening. Based on the popular web series on Chill.com, ‘Vigilante Diaries’ was co-written by Paul Sloan (who also stars in the film) and Sesma. Besides Sloan, who portrays the eponymous character, the action comedy features an all-star ensemble cast that includes Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Michael Jai White, Jason Mewes (Clerks, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back) and Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill). ‘Vigilante Diaries’ revolves around a team of black-ops agents turned crime-fighters, led by an elusive, brooding anti-hero of near-mythical physical and weapons skills, known only as The Vigilante. Abandoned by governments, corporations and his handlers and with a bounty on his head, The Vigilante’s jam-packed missions of rescue and revenge take the audience from the mega-mansions and underbelly of Los Angeles to far-flung locales including Iraq, Armenia, Russia, and the UK.
The action film introduces a cast of colorful, dangerous and hilarious characters who all have to carry out a mission. Mewes plays Beverly Hills documentary filmmaker Michael Hanover, who records the exploits of The Vigilante and is thrust headfirst into the middle of the story he is documenting—becoming a high-value target himself in the process. Mix in a trio of Asian femme fatales, a cadre of ruthless Armenian mobsters and at the top, a pair of deep cover super-spies hell-bent on throwing the world into chaos, it’s no wonder it’s up to The Vigilante to sort them all out.
‘Vigilante Diaries’ is an Oscar Gold Productions, Seskri Produktionz and Ton of Hats Production, in association with Vallelonga Productions. The film was produced by Mike Hatton, Asko Akopyan, Nick Vallelonga, and Joshua Mandel.
Red carpet arrivals for the film screening will commence at 6:45pm.
Sesma on the film:
“Much like the movie’s title character, Vigilante Diaries was the project that would never die. It began back in 2013 when Paul Sloan, the creator and co-writer, and I were in between projects figuring out how to pass the time. We came up with a crazy web series inspired by graphic novels we loved that we could make with our friends. A hard as nails, ultra violent action comedy that would follow a YouTube video maker (Jason Mewes) who follows this street superhero known as The Vigilante (Paul Sloan) on his bloody exploits to exact justice.
Few months later cut to Chill.com putting up the money for two episodes and debuting this nutty web series with Jason Mewes at San Diego Comic Con in 2013. It got some attention. People seemed to like it. It was on YouTube’s Machinima channel for a bit and that was that. Paul Sloan and I went on to make a few more feature films and a year later, at the premiere of one of them my good friend and Producer, Mike Hatton approached us with Exec Producer Asko Akopyan about putting together another action indie film. Hatton came up with the idea of utilizing the already produced 20 minutes of the original Vigilante Diaries web series and shooting another hour to make a full length feature film. And in early 2015 we finished that movie. This time “bigger and badder” with new cast members Quinton Rampage Jackson, Michael Madsen, Chavo Guerrero and James Russo, not to mention the returning original cast with Jason Mewes, Paul Sloan, Jacqueline Lord and Jessica Uberuaga.
After screening that movie for a slew of execs the excitement grew. And there was a suggestion to make an immediate sequel after the positive response so as to sell it as a 2-film package. Thus spawning Vigilante Diaries 2.0. Exec Producer Asko Akopyan was adamant we travel to Yerevan, Armenia where his countrymen would lay out the red carpet for an American production and we go make an international action movie sequel. And we did. Add London and Scotland into the mix and we now had another amazing action film.
Once into post-production I realized that there was a rare opportunity here. I asked the question. What if we were to take both films, combine them and make what I believe to be the biggest action indie film I’ve ever seen- a literal mini-Mission Impossible or Fast and Furious type movie. So now, in it’s third trimester, if you will, Exec Producer Paul Hertzberg and Cinetel Films came in and had us shoot a new action opening and ending to tie all this footage together, adding Michael Jai White as the final key cast member. Thus the penultimate and final version of Vigilante Diaries came to be.
The project that had a life of its own. A will to be made. Every time we thought each shoot was done and over with, something else came along to give it new life. Paul Sloan and I worked very hard on the story to make this patched together narrative work seamlessly. And fortunately it organically worked with the original concept of the web series. A segmented, or “diary” entry style film where we follow a series of adventures that coalesce to form one over arcing massive story.
So the project that was just meant to be a web series for fun with friends became one of the most amazing journeys across the globe creating the kind of international action films that inspired me to become a filmmaker in the first place. Vigilante Diaries is my “Kill Bill meets Mission Impossible,” very much in the vein of the 90’s Michael Bay and Bruckheimer films that defined the current mainstream action blockbuster today. And so, just as the saying goes, the story of making a movie is many times just as entertaining as the movie itself.”
Trailers can be viewed here:
For more info, go to: facebook.com/VigilanteDiaries