Preparing for a debut of his short film on Tuesday for friends, family and a panel of local cinematographers, Mountain Pointe High School senior Vincent Cota was putting the finishing touches on the piece after school this week.

“These are really just the fillers, bringing the film together,” said Cota, before setting up his equipment at a friend’s house for a scene.

In his drama, titled “Alone,” Cota tells the story of a troubled teen and her downward spiral to apparent suicide. The film will play on May 7 at the Chandler Fashion Harkins movie theater.

As his final production for a film class at Mountain Pointe, Cota said he reserved the theater for the showing, fundraised for the space, and was connected to local cinematographers.

“We just kind of took it to another level,” said Cota. “It’s just amazing how much my school has been helping and supporting me.”

With a main cast of five and a crew made up of his friends, Cota said the film’s underlying message is about being there for your friends. Though his inspiration wasn’t based on personal or even friends’ experiences, Cota said he can better tap into an idea without being personally connected.

“With an idea separate from myself, I can go anywhere. I don’t have so many limitations or feel constrained to keep it specific to experience,” he said.

Assistant director and junior Morgan Bowles said working with Cota wasn’t just fun, but a learning experience. Bowles, who helped direct main actress and freshman Maddi Arbo with a homework scene where she threw papers off the table, is hoping to take what he learned from this film into his own projects next year.

“It was very professional, much more professional than I thought a film on a school level would be,” he said. “Vincent knew what he was doing going into this.”

Production manager and fellow junior Brennan Polich described the experience as working “with family.”

Serving as writer, director and cinematographer for the film, Cota said he’s most interested in the visual aspect of filming, as he heads to New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts this fall.

Until then, Cota said he is still surprised at the support and help from his school community.

“It’s just the magnitude of it, I guess,” said Cota, with a sort of awestruck expression. “So many more people know and care about it than I thought, I would never have expected that.”

The showing of “Alone” will begin at 6 p.m. on May 7 at the Harkins Chandler Fashion Square 20, 3159 W. Chandler Blvd. Tickets are $2.

To reserve seats, visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.

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