A hometown filmmaker’s award-winning short is scheduled to premiere in Ketchikan on Saturday after a trip around the country on the festival circuit. Emilio Miguel Torres’ short “The Ladder” is coming home for a pay-what-you-want showing at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center ahead of its streaming release scheduled for Nov. 11.
“It focuses on a fisherman named Arthur, who’s played by local actor Keith Smith,” Torres said in an interview. “Arthur can’t fish anymore due to his age, and he finds out that there is this new technological procedure, which allows people to basically take their consciousness and transplant it into a synthetic body. So people effectively get a second chance at life.”
Torres says he got his first camera at 10 years old and spent his childhood in the West End of Ketchikan making movies with friends and working on productions with the local theater group First City Players. He says he always hoped to make a movie in Alaska after graduating from NYU’s film school.
“Because that’s my hometown, and that’s where I discovered my love for storytelling, and so I knew I wanted to make a story about Ketchikan,” he said. “This story specifically just made sense because I wanted to explore themes about family, about technology, and it all just made sense to film it in Ketchikan.”
Along with a cast filled out by Ketchikan residents like Jeff Karlson, Dave Kiffer and Katherine Tatsuda, Torres shot “The Ladder” in Ketchikan last July on a crowdfunded budget of $20,000.
Now Torres says he’s looking to expand the short into a feature film. He’s got a screenplay ready to go and is courting investors, hoping to raise between $100,000 and $250,000.
“It involves more characters and shows off more of Ketchikan. And for me, it’s really important that this movie is like a love letter to Ketchikan, so I want to feature as many local sights as I can and get as many people involved with it as possible,” he said.
Torres says he’s grateful for the support he’s received from the community so far.
“This film wouldn’t have happened without the support of people in Ketchikan. And the response for the film has been really great. So I’m very excited for it to release and for people to see it,” he said.
Saturday’s premiere is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center. Torres will also give a talk at the screening, appearing virtually from his home in Phoenix, Arizona. There’s a suggested donation of $5, and attendees are asked to RSVP online.
The short will be released on Torres’ YouTube channel Nov. 11.
There’s more information available on Facebook. An extended version of KRBD’s interview with Torres is below.