Imagine “The Goonies” meets “National Treasure” meets “Escape Room” made by an East Dallas native. That is what you get with Xandy Smith’s new movie, “Solver,” which fittingly comes out on National Puzzle Day, Jan. 29.
Smith grew up in Junius Heights and made his first movie when he was 4 years old. His father held the camera while Smith manipulated his toys and added music and sound effects to move the story along. “I was surrounded by storytelling and creative arts from a young age,” he says. His father is an author and his mother is a teacher and storyteller.
He honed his skills at Woodrow Wilson High School while making films around East Dallas and White Rock Lake. Next, he majored in film at New York University, where he found an abundance of acting talent. “My friends partied; I didn’t,” he says. “Nothing but making movies.”
After college, he moved to Los Angeles for 12 years and made commercials for everyone from Verizon to local orthodontists.
While in Los Angeles, he married his high school sweetheart. In 2015 they wanted to plant roots near their families and split the difference between his travels for work. “Dallas is a perfect place if you are going to be shooting in New York or LA,” he says.
Smith connected with “Solver” through his friend and cinematographer Mike Moghaddam, who recommended him to the film’s writer, Jack Kelley. The crew shot the movie in upstate New York over the course of a month. Smith edited the film in his home studio in Little Forest Hills. Though it is rarely done, Smith sees the value of both editing and directing a feature film. “As the director, you can cut it in your head and know what shots to get,“ he says. “I just shoot what I need.”
The movie includes music from fellow Woodrow grads Trey and Clay Pendergrass, who have played with Jackopierce and John Pedigo (formally of the The O’s), making “Solver” a local collaboration.
Although a feature film is more arduous and time consuming than commercials, Smith says he enjoys bonding with the crew. “It was nice becoming a family with everybody that was involved and a great experience to be so close to these people,” he says. “It was a mountain to climb together each day.”
Smith is working on other scripts, including “The Bone Wars,” a historical drama about the fierce competition between 19th century paleontologists.
“Solver” will be released in limited theaters across the nation and will be available for download on iTunes and Amazon Jan. 29. Check out the trailer here.
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