University of Nebraska-Lincoln alumni Ehren Parks, one of the producers of "La Flamme Rouge"

Brothers Derek and Brent Maze grew up watching classic crime movies in Falls City, Nebraska, and now they’ve made one of their own.

The two University of Nebraska-Lincoln alumni are making their directorial debut with their new film, “La Flamme Rouge.” The neo-noir thriller follows an injured professional cyclist and a renegade detective navigating the criminal landscape of the art scene. According to Brent, the film was inspired by the pair’s favorite movie genres growing up. 

“We wanted to make this very surreal, nightmarish, crime-thriller piece,” Brent said. “It was a collection of all the things we love from our favorite films, whether that be old 1950s Japanese yakuza movies or even a lot of influence from comics and video games. It’s a love letter to all of that stuff we loved growing up.”

What was once an 11-minute short has now evolved into a full-length feature being entered into the film festival circuit. The movie premiered on March 13 during the 16th Annual Omaha Film Festival. 

“The festival was fantastic,” Brent said. “They did a really great job of supporting us this year and getting a great turn out on the biggest screen we could get here. It went really well and everyone responded well to the movie.”

The team of brothers started writing the original 11-minute script in 2015, but began transitioning the short film into a feature film in 2018. In May 2019, they began production, where the two faced the most challenges in the logistics of actually making a movie, Derek said. 

“Everything about writing the script was very natural and fast,” Derek said. “It’s everything that comes after that, that’s the hard part. Things like raising money, getting casting, production, scheduling. It’s a very big undertaking.”

The movie stars Balthazar Getty, Clint Howard, Todd Lowe and many others who the Maze brothers grew up watching. According to Brent, the connection between this cast and their favorite genres made it easier for them to connect and shoot the movie. 

“Getting to work with these people was just kind of wild,” Brent said. “A lot of them are people we grew up watching in ‘True Blood,’ ‘Twin Peaks’ and ‘Apollo 13.’ There’s a reason they were in the art they were that attracted us to them. We connected with them all on a really good level and saw eye-to-eye with the lead cast before even going into shooting.” 

In an effort to prove the cinematic value of their home state, the brothers shot the entire movie at various locations in Nebraska. 

“We have always felt that you can bring a big production into Nebraska,” Derek said. “We have a lot of great resources here and the infrastructure to accommodate people at a good price. I think we wanted to just make it a proof of concept that you can do a Hollywood-level production in Nebraska.”

In the future, the pair said they plan on continuing to make movies in Nebraska. For now, the brothers are working on getting “La Flamme Rouge” through the film festival circuit before finalizing a public release. As their careers begin to take off, the duo said they are thankful for their education at UNL and the connections it provided them with.

“We really appreciate going to school at the university,” Brent said. “It gave us a lot of great opportunities to network and meet people that became really valuable in our careers, getting started. It’s great to just have that continued support.”