January 12, 2005

Locally Produced Ninja ‘Documentary' Premiere benefits Lexington Habitat for Humanity

Lexington, KY— His boss just fired him because he lacks the skills to make a burrito. His girlfriend thinks he's a big-time loser.  His father just wants him to be a successful air conditioner salesman.  But Mark Rotane will let nothing in the way of his dream to become the world's greatest ninja.

The Kentucky Theater in downtown Lexington will host the premiere of the locally produced independent film “Beneath the Mask: Portrait of an American Ninja” on February 3, 2005 at 7:30 p.m.  Beneath the Mask is an off-beat comedy written and produced by Cubit Productions, a small film company formed by three Lexington filmmakers Ben Sledge, Matt Wheeler, and Brian Reed.  Admission is $5.50 and tickets will be available at the door on the night of the showing and can be purchased in advance online at . Half of all ticket sales will benefit Lexington Habitat for Humanity in support of their mission to provide affordable housing for low-income families in Fayette County.

Beneath the Mask is a low budget independent production in the fake documentary genre (or “mockumentary”) that focuses on a six-week period of the life of Mark Rotane (Matt Wheeler) as he enrolls and progresses through evening ninjutsu classes at the local dojo.   The film runs approximately one hour and fifteen minutes and documents Mark's highs and lows in the experience.   Through interviews with Mark, along with his friends, family, and classmates, the film presents a lighthearted look at the real issues involved when people take risks to achieve their dreams.

The filmmakers set out on this venture in the spring of 2003 with the idea to do a short film in their spare time.  Sledge, Wheeler, and Reed work fulltime as a web designer, engineer, and pastor, respectively.  “I really thought we would film this in a couple of days, show it to our friends and laugh, but it has kind of gotten out of control,” says Wheeler, 28, who co-directed and stars in the film as Mark. The story was written over several months, and the movie was then filmed locally in Lexington and surrounding communities in the summer of 2003. The filmmakers, who funded the entire project, used consumer grade equipment and a volunteer cast and crew to work on a small budget.

Sledge, 28, who produced and co-directed the film, hopes it will have broad appeal, “I hope this film appeals to everyone.  It is definitely family friendly,” but admits some people may not get it.  “I really think that people who have a taste for offbeat comedy like Napoleon Dynamite or Best in Show will appreciate what we're doing here.”

“Yeah, it is definitely quirky,” admits Wheeler,  “but most of all, I want people to think a little, laugh a lot, and support a great charity in the process.” The filmmakers will be contributing half of all ticket sales to the premiere to Lexington Habitat for Humanity. “We really want this to be a community event,” explains Reed, 27,“we didn't want it to be something that was just for us, but something that gave back to the community that allowed us the create and show this story.”

“We are thrilled that the Beneath the Mask filmmakers included Lexington Habitat in the premiere of this film.  It is a perfect way to enjoy a local film while helping a local charity,” said Toa Veerasethakul, Marketing Coordinator of Lexington Habitat for Humanity.

>  For more information on Beneath the Mask visit:

> For more information on Lexington Habitat for Humanity visit: ###