PARKER, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado teenager takes on bullying in the new film “Unmarked” with a unique take on the age-old problem at school by telling his own story as actor, writer, and director of the project he started at the age of 12 and will premiere in March almost two years after he came up with the concept.
“The storyline follows this former friend’s angry mother,” explained Alec Ybarra, 14, the creator of the film. “Who tries to destroy a student after she realizes this student knows information about her son that could lead him to jail.”
Ybarra says it’s based on a true story involving him that lasted about a year. He and the character he plays in the film feel marked by that mother out to ruin their lives and protect her son.
“My goal is to walk away from this situation unmarked,” Ybarra said about the meaning of the title.
The events that played out over several months were turned into a movie that runs a little more than an hour. The process of making this film helped Ybarra to get over that experience.
“It really impacted me deeply,” he said. “Especially living through it for a year.”
He started writing the film in the summer of 2016 after the bullying ended. Ybarra hoped someone would buy the script and produce the film but he later realized he was the best person to direct it and star in it as well. It gave him a chance to use his passion for film to take on a topic that he knows affects a lot of students. This was the first film he has ever written or directed.
“Well since I lived this experience and I know what it was like,” Ybarra said. “It would be more true to the story and true to the film if I played myself.”
He has some experience as an actor but had to teach himself about production and editing to complete “Unmarked” based on what he found online. The film was shot across Colorado in the summer of 2017. He used the website Seed & Spark to raise around $20,000 to help pay for the film.
“I definitely learned a lot from this experience,” he said. “It certainly was unexpected.”
By keeping the film in state, he kept expenses low and gave local talent the chance to be a part of his project in front of and behind the camera.
“I wanted to include the Colorado film community,” Ybarra said. “I know there are a lot of great actors out here.”
It wasn’t always easy to get a team of almost 100 people to listen to a 12-year-old at first, but he eventually finished the film late last year. Ybarra hopes anyone that has been bullied can connect with his story and find strength in seeing it play out on the big screen.
“I feel like the film is going to help a lot of other people,” he said.
You can learn more about the project and must buy tickets in advance to attend showtimes on March 19, 20 and 21 at unmarkedmovie.com.
Ybarra says he has moved on from his bullying experience and is excited about his future.
“Unmarked” is just the start of the long career ahead he looks forward to in this industry.
“I plan to make movies for the rest of my life,” he said.