Actor/producer Angelo Reyes

Va. Beach actor hopes film Sundance


Actor/producer Angelo Reyes, left, prepares for an intense scene in the short film, "Heartless," as cameraman Eric Hales and screenwriter/director Chris Abaya stand by.
Actor/producer Angelo Reyes, left, prepares for an intense scene in the short film, “Heartless,” as cameraman Eric Hales and screenwriter/director Chris Abaya stand by. (Irene Bowers)


There is heart to “Heartless,” a short film shot locally in July.

The work of actor and producer Angelo Reyes, and of screenwriter and director Chris Abaya, the movie will be submitted to the Sundance Film Festival this month.

Reyes and Abaya had three goals for the project: bring their mutual skills to industry attention, expose local film talent, and establish the suitability of Hampton Roads for the big screen.

“Our crew of 50 was all from Virginia, and mainly from here,” said Reyes. “Chris and I really believe in the area and its people, so we committed to it.”

Reyes, 35, graduated from Salem High and Old Dominion University with a degree in marketing and advertising. Ten years ago, he produced automotive lifestyle events at the Pavilion, and co-produced “Racers and Tuners,” an automotive interest program about fast cars that aired on the Velocity/Discovery channels.

Despite success, he felt the bug to act.

Biracial Italian-Filipino, Reyes grew up in Italy until age 10 and traced his dramatic ambitions to childhood.

“I really didn’t know who I was in terms of cultural identity,” he said, noting that he developed personas to meet the expected behaviors of differing cultures.

“I always played a part, trying to assimilate through various roles as a young person – Italian, Filipino, American, even Hispanic,” Reyes said. “It took me a long time to realize that acting wasn’t a survival skill but a marketable skill.”

Eventually, he commuted to New York City on weekends for acting school, while working in Virginia Beach.

He found roles here and in Los Angeles in commercials, television and cinema, but wanted more.

“I decided to make a movie and get in front of industry executives at Sundance,” he said, adding that he funded the project with personal savings.

“Heartless” is an original script written by Abaya, who works regionally as a screenwriter, director and production specialist in commercial and government movies. The action-suspense film will be screened locally in October, with specific dates and locations to be announced. He has tried to produce “Heartless” before, but said the timing was never right.

“I’m glad Angelo and I did it this way and at this particular moment,” he said, noting that events lined up perfectly to make it happen here.

The film’s gritty narrative reads like Edgar Allen Poe and explores post traumatic stress disorder. It was filmed in July, at sites in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, including an abandoned warehouse on Cleveland Street and Witchduck Road.

“We worked with Virginia Beach’s film office and the police, so nobody would worry about the gunfire,” said Reyes, grinning.

The low-budget production will compete in the short-film category. According to festival information, between 70 and 80 shorts are selected for screening at one of 11 programs. In December, Abaya and Reyes will be notified if “Heartless” was accepted for the 2015 festival.

They intend to produce the script as a feature film, and said a Sundance screening would advance interest in the longer project.

“Everyone has been supportive and excited about ‘Heartless,’ ” said Reyes. “It serves as impetus to make the movie right here in our backyard.”

Irene Bowers,

Va. Beach actor hopes film Sundances – The Virginian-Pilot (

Irene Bowers is a freelance writer for the Virginia Beach Beacon section of The Virginian-Pilot.