With the end of the more than yearlong pandemic finally, possibly in sight (still wear a mask, get your shots, don’t be a dope), it’s time for Maine’s filmmaking community to get back up and running again. Except, yeah, anyone who knows the Maine film community knows that nothing as insignificant as a massive global health emergency can truly keep a fiercely determined and independent film scene quiet for long. Just ask  filmmaker writer, and actor Cody Alexander Curtis about how he’s spent his lockdown. 

Cody Alexander Curtis has three films coming out this spring. Photo by Michael Cinquino

“I always plan to do things to the best of my ability, with the idea that nothing’s going to stop me,” said the Bath-based Curtis, “I’m not going to allow it.” Take that, pandemic, as Curtis has three films preparing to emerge, along with the rest of us, into spring 2021’s hopefully auspicious light. 

His debut feature, “Suffocation” (featuring Curtis in the roles of actor, producer, writer and director) was shot over this past October and is in post-production, with an eye toward an April release to “as many film festivals as we can get it into.” The “Twilight Zone”-inspired short “Nighthawks” (directed by Mainers Blake Wright and Henry Riley, with Curtis as production manager and co-producer) is also in post-production. (And has an active Indiegogo crowdfunding page to help that along.) And Curtis’ followup short, the “satirical romantic comedy about all phases of love and romance and the awkwardness that comes with that,” called “Noxious Nuptials,” has just finished its final weekend shoot, and is moving into the – you guessed it – post-production phase. (Directed by Mainer Connor Hall, Curtis is only acting, editing, and performing as assistant director on that one.)

That’s one busy, multi-tasking winter’s worth of work, something that the Maine native says has become second nature since he returned to his home state back in 2018. “That was when I really started to network and meet people, and actually got my passion for filmmaking,” explains the University of Southern Maine Media Studies graduate, citing the uniquely collaborative and welcoming nature of the local film scene for making his lifelong love of performing into something more immersive – and life-consuming. “My driving force has always been acting,” said Curtis, whose reel and resume can be found at his website, “but I really found a love for every aspect of filmmaking.”

As noted, that’s no idle chatter, as the actor-writer-producer-director has thrown himself into the Maine movie community with all his performer’s passion. “The Maine arts community has always been super welcoming to me,” enthused the Morse High graduate. “I think it’s a crime Maine hasn’t been recognized as a hub for filmmaking, as a film location, and for the arts in general.” Also as noted, Curtis is seeking to rectify that situation, joining with old and new friends also in those communities as he learns the ropes of local, low-budget indie filmmaking. 

A scene from the set of “Suffocation.” Photo by Garrick Hoffman

For the intense “Suffocation” (about a couple’s fraught relationship after the death of a loved one), Curtis’ own crowdfunding campaign raised around $5,000 with 10 percent of that going to Maine-based Greater Portland Health, in keeping with the film’s message of mental health and suicide prevention. Said Curtis of his feature debut, “It surrounds themes of death and grief, suicide and hope in people in their late teens and early 20s.” 


Of course, seeing movies in these theater-less COVID times is an even tougher challenge than normal for Maine filmmakers, with Curtis teasing plans for a red carpet, drive-in world premiere for “Suffocation” once winter finally gives way. As evidenced both by “Suffocation’s” charity-incorporating fundraising campaign and its nontraditional premiere plans, the young filmmaker has been learning on his feet as he’s had to navigate, not just being a new moviemaker in Maine, but a moviemaker in a Maine largely shuttered thanks to unprecedented hardship. 

Said Curtis of his approach to the potentially production-hobbling effects of on-set safety restrictions, “It’s about understanding the rules and making sure people are safe.” As he said of the trouble-free, mask-conscious making of “Suffocation” (with its 35-member cast and crew), “People in the community are itching to be part of projects again,” adding, “Even though all these precautions (temperature checks, masks, testing) were a learning process at the beginning, it’s all second nature now.” 

So Maine moviegoers, prepare yourself for a spring and summer of virtual (and then – knocking wood – in person) events where we can all see that the Maine indie scene has been as busy and resourceful as ever. For more information about Cody Alexander Curtis’ life and work, and the upcoming “Suffocation,” see codyalexandercurtis.com. And look to this column for plenty more profiles of busy Maine filmmakers preparing to bust out all over once this long, movie-starved national nightmare is over.

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.

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