Trace Around Your Heart

Huntington filmmakers find success in their newest project.


It’s only appropriate that a story about making movies would begin in a movie theater. Ian Nolte was working in the theater in the Huntington Mall in 2005 when a friend, Michael Valentine, proposed that they make a movie. Neither knew how to do it, but they decided to give it a try. “We’ve been working together ever since, learning piece by piece as we went along,” says Ian. Over time, more people got involved in their movie-making venture, bringing new skills and ideas. Eventually this group of people—Ian and Michael plus Max Nolte, Kyle Quinn, Seth Martin, Glen Brogan, and Courtney Holschuh—formed into Brainwrap Productions. “It’s been a long, hard road,” Ian says. “But here we are, seven or eight years in, and we just released what we consider our best project to date.”

He’s talking about their new short film, Trace Around Your Heart. Brainwrap Productions had been producing web shorts for YouTube called Seth Martin and Friends, featuring puppets made by Kyle. It was a way for the group to hone their skills and develop an audience, but after that project came to a close, Brainwrap was ready to move on to a more involved project. “You know how they turn your favorite TV show into a movie and everything is a little bit bigger and bolder? That’s the effect we were going for,” says Ian.

The idea was hatched when the Brainwrap crew saw a performance by Sasha Colette, a local musician, and joked about including her in a movie with a country songwriter puppet from Seth Martin and Friends, Trace Cherokee. Even though they didn’t know Sasha personally, the gang began working on a script. After months of writing, they realized that it was possible that Sasha wouldn’t be interested. “So I had to call her and say, ‘Hello. You don’t know me, but I wrote a 30-page short film about you,’” Ian says. “Luckily, she thought it sounded fun.”

The movie features Trace, a puppet character living in the aftermath of a one-hit wonder with his ex-lover and fellow musician Sasha Colette. Unable to handle the temptations of a musician’s life, Trace lost his money, his fame, and most importantly, the woman he loved. When Sasha approaches him about a reunion performance and he accepts, he must come face to face with his demons. Equal parts quirky and endearing, and wholly unique, the film is a sweet release from a mundane afternoon or a long day at work. Amidst the laughs, you might notice your toes tapping along to the beat. The film features original music by local musicians as well as a live performance by Sasha Colette. “We wanted to make a movie about music, and we were lucky to have tons of talented musicians pitch in,” says Ian.

The movie, filmed in Huntington, took more than a year to produce from start to finish. All of the members of Brainwrap work other jobs, so the filming and editing was done in whatever spare time they could muster. “We spent a lot of time stressing out over how long it was taking, but we never gave up,” Ian says. “We just kept chugging along, inch by bloody, painful, back-breaking inch.” Their effort paid off. The film premiered at the Appalachian Film Festival in April, followed by a showing at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. “[It] had become this idea we had sweated over and sweated over. It felt good to sit back and listen to a theater full of people laugh at it.”

The film was released online less than a month ago, with the hopes that as many people as possible see it and get a laugh out of it. With Trace Around Your Heart finished, Brainwrap is focusing on their live music web series, Live at Trackside, and meeting regularly to talk about their next project. “We’ve got a couple of ideas we’re slowly working into shape,” Ian says. “Whatever it turns out to be, we’ll all work on it together. And then hopefully we’ll get some people to watch it. That’s all I really care about.”

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