(Editor's note: This story originally aired in April. The film "The Track" will be show at the Las Vegas Film Festival, which started Tuesday)
The film explores the dangers of underage sex trafficking. It was filmed in Las Vegas and features veteran actors Missy Yager and Sam Trammell. Mariah Kirstie stars as a teenage prostitute in her first film.
How did you arrive at this subject?
I was living in the Bay Area, in Oakland, teaching film out there. I wanted to make a short film and I just became very aware of a young woman on our street corner, who was 16 years. Not what I envisioned a typical prostitute would look like, looked like a very suburban girl. But she was going in and out of cars throughout the course of the day and I came to the realization that she was an underage prostitute.
I did some research in the Bay Area. Cast [the short film], shot it, used my students as crew and we made this super low-budget short film and it played festivals and it was kind of a great experience. It reinvigorated my passion for filmmaking. It got me keyed into this issue of underage prostitution.
What is the “The Track?”
The ‘track’ is a slang term to describe the area of town where prostitutes solicit customers. For Las Vegas, that area is Boulder Highway. That’s where a Jon would go to pick up a prostitute.
How does a 15 year old get into prostitution?
That was the most interesting thing. What I learned was a lot of times these young women will get sucked into it because they’re looking for love and the pimps prey on that. The pimp [she talked with] said what he would look for is the girl that had that lack of confidence, who kind of had a chip on her shoulder. And he would go after that type of women and become a boyfriend figure for them and then would transition into the pimp. He would ask her to do a favor for him and slowly bring her into prostitution.
How did you draw some of the actors in the movie to this project?
We are definitely a low-budget, independent feature film. We raised the budget for our film via IndieGoGo. And we had a couple of local investors who came to the project. We are super low budget. So we knew we had to attract someone who had a passion for the subject matter and would be excited about the opportunity to play this role because of that.
What is a low-budget movie?
A low-budget movie in my mind would be anything under $100,000. We utilized a lot of the resources at UNLV especially the film department came through for us in a major way. A lot of the equipment came through them. A lot of the crew was all film students, film alumni, and faculty. It was a passion project. We all came together. We donated our time. No one really got paid besides the actors.
What was it like directing the two main actresses Missy Yager and Mariah Kirstie?
Well “Caren,” played by Missy Yager and Mariah Kirstie, who plays “Barbie,” I think they’re amazing actors individually, but they come from two different places. Missy has been doing this for a long time and Mariah, this is her first feature film. She’s new to the industry. They kind of approach things differently but for whatever reason when they came together they had a spark they had a chemistry. They had a working relationship that worked really well.
Brett Levner, director of the movie, "The Track" and assistant professor in the Department of Film at the University of Nevada/Las Vegas