Solorzano unveils ‘Varsity Punks’ film to Ironton cross country team

Published 9:26 pm Saturday, August 13, 2016

Jim Walker


Food, party and fun turned to lights, camera, action.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers’ cross country team held a preseason team party that just happened to include the showing of the independent new sports teen comedy “Varsity Punks.”

The Ironton cross country team was one of only three high schools in American to view the film. The other two schools were in California, the home state of Anthony Solorzano who is the writer/director/producer of the film and was on hand to host the showing.

The new independent film that has just finished post-production and is currently being submitted to various film festivals.

The Fighting Tigers’ cross country team viewed the film on Friday following the movie party.

The term “Varsity Punks” was coined by Solorzano who ran cross country in high school because it was an inexpensive outlet for the talent of team members. A “varsity punk is a term that I have for an athlete who can’t really connect with jocks, who is just more of a punk kid.”

The team’s star quarterback A.J. Montoya breaks his hand and his only hope to team up with his longtime rivals: the cross country team, a group of nerds and misfits with potential for high school glory.

Montoya has to deal with going from a member of the school’s “coolest” group to participating and dealing with being one of the “uncoolest.”

Ironton native Mickey Fisher — writer and producer in his own right and known for the TV show “Extant” along with films “The King of Iron Town” and “Summer Nuts” — was instrumental in bringing Solorzano and his film to Ironton for a rare viewing.

Ironton cross country coach Tim Thomas was browsing through the different running websites and came across something that caught his eye.

“I saw that there was a new running movie in the works. I stayed up on it. I kept seeing new ads about it and followed it on twitter until I saw they had a kick-starter page. One of the kick-starter perks was a team screening prior to the release of the movie,” said Thomas.

“Through the efforts of Mickey Fisher we were able to secure one of three team screenings to high schools across the country.”

Solorzano and filmographer Eddie Bourne flew into the Tri-State and spent the day and enjoyed the food at the movie party supplied by Moe’s in Ashland, Ky.

“They’ve been very gracious and they’ve had a great time and our kids have been terrific and we’ve had a great two days like this event tonight. It’s pretty awesome,” said Thomas.

“I don’t know how they found out about it. Social media does wonders,” said Solorzano. “It’s very inspiring a town that is so far away from where we are and different demographics to be involved.

“It is still a universal teenage story. It doesn’t matter where you live. At the core we’re all still the same. This is also proof for us to distributors that this movie is viable and will resonate with people from all over the country.”

Solorzano drew upon his own personal experiences for the idea and development of the film.

“I was a runner. What fascinated me more than anything was the high school culture of belonging. There is a hierarchy of success between the coolest and the uncoolest and sports plays a big a part of that,” said Solorzano.

“I wanted to explore that social hierarchy of the sports and where does cross country fit in. Football is usually at the top of the food chain. I wanted to capture that essence of that teenage struggle to belong.”

Solorzano spent two years writing the screenplay. Besides directing and producing the film, he also did the poster art, location scouting and even did some of the haircuts.

He actually put the story away for a period of time until he realized it was difficult to make it strictly as a writer.

“You have to materialize it. No one is going to bank on just an idea of a cool story,” said Solorzano who then spent another half-year re-writing the story.

Next he got help from his family and friends to invest in the production. It took almost a year for the production process and another year for the actual filming and editing.

“It’s been about a four-year process,” said Solorzano.

If the movie is picked up at a film festival, Solorzano said the next step would be to get a theatrical release and eventually go to digital distribution.