Valley native to debut short film at Cine El Rey

McALLEN — Valley native Carlos Moreno Jr. remembers realizing he wanted to be more than just an actor.

The PSJA High School graduate was running a scene during acting class at the Beverly Hills Playhouse in Los Angeles.

“‘You’re a leader; you’re not a second banana,’” he recalls hearing from his instructor, the late Milton Katselas. “‘You need to stop thinking like that.’

“It was that teacher that made me realize I was more than an actor. I’m a artist.”

He was encouraged to direct and craft scenes, which he said led to creative exploration as a filmmaker.

Moreno will screen his 22-minute short film, “Panacea,” Saturday at Cine El Rey in McAllen.

With roles in films like “Coco” and “Transformers,” and TV shows like “Community,” “The Bridge” and “Dexter,” Moreno hopes to use his experience to tell his own stories.

“I want to make you laugh. I want to make you cry,” he said. “I want to make you think.”

“Panacea” is “about love, family and friends,” he said, and was written in a day. A friend had access to a high-end camera for a week which prompted Moreno to plan the production within a few days. The film explores a unique twist on saying goodbye.

“I sat down and I just thought, what would it be like to be my last day here on Earth?” he said of writing the film. “I became alive.

“I began to notice the heat of the Sun, and (specificity) of the leaves and how they rustle by themselves and the bird chirping and touching the grass. I got really connected to life.”

Moreno co-wrote, directed and co-stars in the film, which was shot in nine hours over two days.

The film, and screening, is sponsored by the locally run Legacy App, which is a delayed-delivery video platform. Saturday’s event doubles as an opportunity to learn about the application, which is featured in the film.

Legacy App co-founder Devon Smittkamp called the pairing a “divine coincidence.” Smittkamp’s business partner knew Moreno, who thought the theme of his script could be a good showcase for the software.

Unlike applications built to share content immediately, Legacy App is about “controlling when things are going to be delivered,” Smittkamp said.

The most obvious use case for the application is timing messages after one’s life, which requires the developers to challenge the societal stigma of death.

“Really, it’s about staying connected, even if you can’t be there,” he said. “The idea is to build a platform in which you can use those shared memories to remember fondly.”

The event begins at 6 p.m. and features a question-and-answer session with Moreno.