Michael DeSanto is honored to be selected Toledo’s Best Filmmaker by Toledo City Paper readers. It just kinda came out of nowhere.
“One of my filmmaking friends, Jack O’Hare, nominated me. And I was like, ‘Oh great, now I gotta go and campaign,’” DeSanto said with a laugh.
The recognition really shouldn’t be such a surprise. DeSanto has been steadily making his mark as a director in the Glass City for over a decade, from early no-budget short subject shoots, to the debut of his first feature-length project, Max Anderson: Private Eye in 2013, to the opening of his own studio, Bad Atom Studios, in 2017.
“My goal is always to entertain a wide audience,” DeSanto said. “That’s always my impulse, I want to make something that everybody’s going to enjoy. So I think the films that I create have a wide appeal, and then people respond to it.”
Movies have been a part of DeSanto’s life for as long as he can remember. Despite his interest in filmmaking, he never attended film school. His skill set doesn’t come from a classroom, but from the real world and practical experience. Everything he knows has been self-taught, since he began making short films in 2006. That do-it-myself attitude extended to Max Anderson seven years later, which he wrote, directed, produced and edited.
“I was a little crazier back then, I think— putting on an entire feature pretty much by myself. I didn’t have the help that I have now— I was a one-man film crew. And now, the difference is, I’m collaborating with other local filmmakers and writers, and production companies, which can up the bar as far as quality.”
That growing sense of collaboration among Toledo artists is one of the things that DeSanto is most proud of. Taking part in groups like the Glass City Screenwriters (along with that rascal Jack O’Hare), DeSanto has been a big part of a revolution that has seen Toledo filmmakers working together, pooling their talents to create something grander than what they’d be able to do alone.
“My goal is to bring everybody together, because you get a better end result. You get better films, we have collaborative projects coming up. I was just down in Perrysburg last night, we were doing proof of concept for a film coming up with Capture One studios,” DeSanto said.
The Glass City Screenwriters will soon be collaborating on a new project— a horror film titled Choice.
“That’s all of our production companies getting together to make a group film to get the Glass City Screenwriters up. We all wrote the script collaboratively, put the screenplay together from everybody’s outlines, ideas and notes. So we have that coming up pretty soon.”
DeSanto’s solo plate is plenty full, as well. His most recent short film, Ten Minutes to Earth, has been making the rounds at film festivals, and he’ll soon be debuting another dark short called Exit Interview at the Glass City Film Festival on May 17. He’s also working to complete a sequel to his comedy Spy College, as well as a web series entitled I Hate My Job.
“I have my own style for my films, that’s been consistent throughout. And I really think the difference, though, is just doing more of it. As long as you’re doing something continuously, you’re gonna get better at it. And like I said, having other people involved, it forces you to raise your standards and get better,” he said.