Local Filmmaker Profile: Grant Carsten

Grant Carsten

Grant Carsten, a 21 year old student at University of Utah is following the passion for filmmaking he developed as a Park City high school student.

Originally, he wanted to be an actor. In the fall of 2011, he took a script-writing class which sparked his desire to direct.

In 2015, as a high school senior, Grant participated in the Miner Film Festival with a short film entitled Grade Camp and was recognized by the judges with The Sundance Passion for Filmmaking Award.

“I won this award, according to judge Andy Cier, because Kyle Fish, my film teacher, told a story about how I secured the Eccles Center for a shoot through a process taking six months and involving a stunt during school's talent show. We filmed 4 angles of a full crowd giving an authentic standing ovation, all thanks to a speech I disguised as part of the pre-show.” Ironically, Grant ended up deleting the scene because it didn't enrich the story.

His feature Sanctuary Dream, an autism simulation experience, takes the viewer into the life of an autistic teen in a home dominated by an abusive father. We see the impact of this tension on the teen, his brother and mother and are hopeful they find a pathway to safety.

Writer/director Carsten describes himself as a formerly low-functioning but now a high-functioning autistic person. “I had to adapt my autism into a more intelligent image from the perception of others.”  

This mission began at a very young age with voice lessons to learn how to articulate. “The more I understood music, the more I was able to concentrate on catching clarity in mumbled speech.” He learned to stitch lines from movies and other forms of media to experiment with how words work.

Carsten's first full-length project took some time. The writing process alone took 3 months. “I had to reflect on why certain portions of my disability are the way they are, thus there are 15 drafts; the last 3 making sure the story became tighter.”

Filming took 3 months and editing a whole year. “Mostly because it was a one-man band and manually syncing the audio because the program didn’t have an automatic option was a painful 4 months.”

Any film project is dependent on funding and the majority was funded by Grant himself with his two year savings of $7,000. A Park Record article also brought in funding along with word of mouth from participating friends and family.

Grant has submitted the film to Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals. Here is a link to the movie's website: http://www.sanctuarydreammovie.com.

Film, Youth FeatureBarbara Bretz