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“Shock Value”: A New Sci-Fi Fantasy With Catholic Roots


Eugene Gan - published on 10/23/14 - updated on 06/07/17

Directors Curi and Ambrosio chat up their new film with their former Steubenville professor

Recently, I got to do something very thrilling. I got the chance to reconnect with two former students who are not only using their skills and talents in big ways, but are also living out their faith joyfully in the real world of media: Julian Curi (writer/co-director) and Rocco Ambrosio (co-director) are set to make the film “Shock Value.” 

It’s good to be in touch with you again Rocco and Julian, and I’m really happy to see your passion for what you do! I already like the title: "Shock Value" – sometimes I think we need to shock audiences to live their lives fully! Our Lord himself did that – people listening to Jesus speak were shocked, but I’m getting ahead of myself. For the benefit of our audiences, let’s cut to the chase and tell us about your new project. What is it all about?

"Shock Value" is our first feature film as Alabaster Films. It tells the story of a young actress struggling with purpose in her life. She is employed by a company that helps its clients find the meaning and purpose of their lives by taking them dangerously close to the moment of death.

What can audiences expect to see in the first few crucial minutes?

Shock Value begins with the "beginning of the end." It hits the ground running with a high energy foot chase, and sets the stage for the dark and eccentric world our main character will someday inhabit. It lets the audience be omniscient through the story because they know the dread that awaits as a consequence of the lead character’s moral choices.

What inspired you to make this?

Julian: As a senior at Franciscan University, I took a leap with electives and signed up for a Sci-Fi/Fantasy writing class. I enjoy grounded fantasy, so the more I grounded this concept, the closer to reality it became. After moving to LA, I had found the perfect backdrop for "the quest for purpose" in a young person. Big cities tend to attract people with high hopes for themselves. But high hopes can sometimes eclipse purpose – leaving successful, popular, attractive shells struggling to connect.

What kind of response have you been getting?

We’re so grateful. Responses often go something like: "When is it coming out? I need to see this! People need to see this!" After which we respond, "I know, but it only gets made when enough people contribute." And that’s where the struggle has been greatest. Hundreds of people have said they support it and want it to be made, but few contribute even the smallest amount. If every person who has verbally supported us contributed as generously as is in their power to do so, this film could be funded very quickly.

How is this film different from other films out there? What makes it unique?

It asks Life’s Big questions without compromising entertainment value, complexity, and detail. It’s too easy to let the concept of a story do the heavy lifting. Even Truth should be packaged well. So in so many words, it portrays the contemplated life as edgy, intelligent, and frankly… badass.

What’s the difference between a film that’s engaging and a film that’s inspiring?

They’re both very different actions. A world that’s unoriginal, repetitive, or common doesn’t engage, but a detailed, personal perspective on the world does. Though you may be telling a familiar story, you’re sharing your point of view. If you craft that well, it gives audiences brand new context for the lives. That’s when inspiration comes in. If they believe the world you’ve created, they’ll be far more likely to accept the ideas within it.

What’s important to you when making films?

Truth and beauty. Truth in the story and characters…people can tell if something is inauthentic. By beauty we mean the craftsmanship of the film. The overall uniting vision of all the pieces coming together to form the whole…it must be well crafted.

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