Art Center College of Design - Class of ’08

Enrolled in film school to polish his craft after making two low-budget features on his own.

Barnhart already had two horror movies in the can before considering film school. Now, at 31, the self-made director plans to shoot his next feature, “The Ballad of Angel Face,” for a grade.

“Our program is pre-professional,” explains Art Center film chair Ross LaManna. “Instead of having Brian do idle exercises that only his mom would be interested in, we thought, ‘Why should we stand in the way of his making a feature when he’s ready?’”

Barnhart opted for formal training after his second feature, “Hollywood Gothic,” proved a tough sell, hoping to graduate from guerrilla to commercial moviemaking.

“I needed something to separate me from the amateurs,” he explains. “I want to be able to talk film, work with professionals and raise the bar. Looking at what I’m shooting now compared to two years ago, it’s bringing tears to my eyes — I see the direction I want to go.”

Barnhart describes “Ballad,” his grindhouse-style horror-Western hybrid, as “my love letter to spaghetti Westerns”: “You’re going to be watching a guy in a Mexican wrestling mask with a sawed-off shotgun bringing down a storm of vengeance on those who did him wrong.”

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