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Valencia man crafts cosmic film

Dominique De Fazio’s feature film is garnering accolades in bunches

Posted: December 21, 2013 10:32 p.m.
Updated: December 21, 2013 10:32 p.m.

Valencia resident and film director Dominque De Fazio talks about his movie "Dancing on a Dry Salt Lake," which is currently playing in Beverly Hills.

Dominique De Fazio is no stranger to the stage.

The longtime Valencia resident, who also lives for part of the year in Italy, has been an actor and acting teacher for decades.

He studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute for years and is a lifetime member and teacher of The Actors Studio in New York.

He has put on stage shows that have toured the world, from Germany to Italy to Los Angeles.

But after years of success, De Fazio began kicking around the idea of taking his methods and vision from the stage to the screen.

That vision came to a head earlier this year, when De Fazio put the finishing touches on a feature film, “Dancing on a Dry Salt Lake,” which has already garnered dozens of awards from film festivals and is currently showing at Laemmle’s Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills.

But actually getting to that point was a creative endeavor more than a decade in the making.

De Fazio first began mulling over the idea for what would eventually turn into the film in 2000, drawing part of the inspiration for the film from conversations concerning cosmology that he had with scientists in the field.

After that he began crafting a script, finishing the first draft in 2002.

De Fazio said he actually wrote a good deal of the script locally, at a Barnes & Noble bookseller in Valencia.

“It was like my bookstore,” he said during an interview Friday. “I would pull books off the shelves to read for research.”

The film centers on Warner De Santis, a cosmologist played by De Fazio who is obsessed with finding the truth that underlies the origin of the universe.

His obsession leads him to lose his job at NASA and lose his wife because of his own neglect.

He drives from Los Angeles toward the desert in search for the answers he has long strove for.

“So the film is about reaching so far he can’t see it,” De Fazio said of the character.

The film is structured in an unorthodox style, De Fazio said, and is not necessarily a beginning-to-end narrative tale.

“I wrote it like concentric circles,” he said. “And I tried to let people see how the present doesn’t cause the future, it blossoms out.”

Part of the reason for its unorthodox structure, according to De Fazio, is that he wants the viewing experience to be an organic one.

“I want people when they see this film to feel like they aren’t watching a film, they’re being brought to a place,” De Fazio said.

The movie also has a different tone than many other releases, De Fazio said, as it trades in gaudy effects or gratuitous violence for a more subtle tone.

“It’s not a film that’s going to impress you with its special effects,” De Fazio said. “It’s all natural.”

That has made some people skeptical of the film, at least initially.

“Some people would say, ‘What? No sex, no violence, no special effects? Is this a movie?’” said a laughing De Fazio.

De Fazio said he hopes those that see the film feel as though they are a participant on the film’s journey, not merely a bystander.

“I think the greatest gift is to take someone somewhere where they make a discovery, not be instructed how they make it,” he said.

Since Wednesday, “Dancing on a Dry Salt Lake” has been screened at Laemmle’s Music Hall 3 on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For information on showtimes or to purchase tickets, call 310-478-3836 or visit


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