SJSU Filmmakers Race to 2019 Cinequest Film Festival

Media Contact:

Robin McElhatton, 408-924-1749,

San Jose, CA – Filmmakers at San Jose State University are anxiously awaiting the showing of their new short film “American Muscle” at the 2019 Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival, a highly acclaimed international film festival held in San Jose each spring.

The film crew for Spartan Film Studios works on a scene from "American Muscle."

The film crew for Spartan Film Studios works on a scene from “American Muscle.”

Their 22-minute action drama is about an overlooked driver who exploits her brother’s reputation in the underground world of drag racing to finally get a shot at proving herself in the streets.

Nick Martinez, coordinator of studio operations at Spartan Film Studios and general manager of KSJS radio station, wrote and directed the short film. “I wanted to make the most authentic representation of what the world of drag racing is like in a narrative form,” Martinez said.  “I wanted to show everyone this underground world in a way that had not been seen yet.”

It seems the audience at the LA Indie Film Festival, where the film debuted recently, resonated with the short. Martinez won Best Director at the festival.

Being an experienced film writer, director and producer, Martinez wanted to share the professional filmmaking experience with students at Spartan Film Studios. Forty-five current and former SJSU students had the opportunity to work on “American Muscle.”  Riley Leggin, ’17 RTVF said all the students were part of the filmmaking team. “There’s no stand on the sides and watch the pros,” she said. “Everyone gets their hands dirty and we came away with a lot more knowledge and confidence on set.”

The film was shot over five days in San Jose, Sacramento and Alameda. It’s scheduled to show four times during the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival, which runs March 5 through March 17.

Ticket and Show Times

In addition to the “American Muscle” film, three SJSU faculty members from the Department of Film and Theatre are sharing their expertise and script writing knowledge at a panel discussion: “Taking a Script to Screen Successfully.” Screenwriting Lecturers Larry Schapiro and Barnaby Dallas put together the panel of industry insiders. Schapiro will participate in the panel, and Professor Scott Sublett will serve as the moderator. The panel discussion takes place on Saturday, March 16 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the California Theatre Rehearsal Hall.

About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.