Cannes is calling: Local filmmaker screening film at famed festival
THE WOODLANDS, Texas – A graduate of The Woodlands High School is currently soaking up the sun in Cannes, but he's hoping to come home shining bright because his short film steals the show.
Chasen Parker, 24, is screening his movie American Fishtrap at the Cannes Film Festival.
The movie takes place the day after the Civil War, when two Confederate brothers-in-law return home only to have to leave again to rescue a kidnapped family member.
"The story at it's core is how far people are willing to go for the ones they love, and its told from the perspective of the slave," Chasen said.
Chasen became interested in storytelling before he could even read.
"As a kid, my parents always read me really extravagant popup books and things like that," Chasen said. "It transferred to my love for film."
It's also in Chasen's blood. He is the grandson of three-time Oscar nominee Eleanor Parker, who played the role of the Baroness in The Sound of Music. His parents, Rich and Andee Parker met on the set of the 1988 film Die Hard.
Chasen, born in California in 1994, landed his first acting role in an Arby's commercial when he was 2, which then led to roles on daytime TV's Sunset Beach, 7th Heaven and General Hospital.
The family eventually moved to The Woodlands to be closer to Andee's family. Chasen graduated from The Woodlands High School in 2012.
Although his small-screen acting career began when he was just a little boy, his on-stage theatre career didn't begin until he was in high school – and it was literally by accident.
"I was playing basketball very seriously, especially with my summer travel team," Chasen said. "The summer of my junior year I broke my right foot in nine spots, on a trashcan of all things, when I was trying to help my mom put some stuff away. Dumbest thing, but it was meant to be.
"So I was scootering around my school, knowing I was done with sports. I saw a poster for (the play) You Can't Take It With You, and tried out on a whim. I was fortunate to get the lead."
The play left an impression on Chasen that he still feels to this day.
"The play is about doing what you love, not for the money but because you love doing it," he said. "That really sunk into me. I personally believe God had a hand in my shift from basketball to theatre."
Chasen went to Sam Houston State University in Huntsville to study film for two years before transferring to Emerson College in Boston for writing, directing and acting.
American Fishtrap is his fourth film to be shown at Cannes. The other three are Left Behind, a story behind a high school shooting; Group Love, based on the story of Charles Manson, and Paladino, about a Boston mobster.
Upon his return from Cannes later this month, Chasen hopes to have generated enough buzz to where he has the opportunity to turn American Fishtrap into his first feature-length film.
And while Chasen still enjoys acting – he often appears in his own films -- he also loves the magic that goes into making movies.
"We shot American Fishtrap in July, were in postproduction August through January, and then I started rehearsals for a play at Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston – a challenging role because I was onstage for 1.5 hours straight each. So ideally my daily life is preproduction or post-production on a film while starting rehearsals for a play. But the ultimate point is that I'm doing what I love with who I love in a way I love."