They’ll be on the screen in southern France.

Max Renner, 19, and Kyle Metz, 20, are theater arts majors with a command of the film genre. “Showdown,” their 4-minute parody of spy films, will be shown at Cannes as part of the Campus MovieFest.

SDSU sophomore Kyle Metz as Axel Blades in the Cannes-accepted short “Showdown.” Image from

“Showdown” was filmed in three hours, ending at midnight, and edited the following morning by Renner. It will be one of 30 student films to screen at Cannes.

“The [original] competition we were involved in gave you only a week to produce a film, and our team produced six films — four of which were finalists,” Renner said.

“We filmed it in Parking Structure 8, and then Storm Hall West, which was a 10-minute walk away. We entered it into the largest student film festival, Campus Movie Festival. The film won The Jury Award, and won me Best Actor at SDSU.”

To defray trip expenses, Metz and Renner are crowdfunding through (and have raised nearly $1,000 as of Thursday).

But Cannes is only the beginning, say the pair on track to graduate in 2018.

“I really want to be on SNL,” Metz said via email. “It’s a dream of mine, and I’m working hard to achieve that goal.”

Renner — who with Metz founded an improv comedy troupe at SDSU called Party of Dos, says he would like to have his own TV show, “whether it be a sketch show like ‘Mr. Show with Bob and David,‘ or a more traditional TV style like “Always Sunny In Philadelphia’.

Renner and Metz took part in a joint email interview this week:

Times of San Diego: How long have you known each other? Previous projects?

Max: Kyle and I have attended the same schools since preschool up in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have been best friends since then, and we both attended the Clayton Arts Academy together, the same high school where Blake Anderson and Kyle Newacheck of the Comedy Central show “Workaholics” originated.

Kyle: We’ve been making home videos since middle school, and have been entering into film festivals since high school, winning a first-place award for a comedic music video at the Ohlone College Theater Arts Festival (in Fremont).

Related social media accounts:

Max: We also hosted an event called “Improvaganza,” which was a districtwide improv competition that Kyle Newacheck of “Workaholics” came to judge. We raised over $2,000.

How many films have you made, or made as part of your comedy troupe?

Kyle: We currently have 30+ videos on our official YouTube channel that range from music pieces to sketch comedy to cartoons.

Max: A video I made for Gamma Phi Beta sorority at SDSU went viral on the social media site,
Total Sorority Move.

Kyle: Another video that the group made (Tickle Dojo) has over 10,000 views, mostly from people in Europe oddly enough.

Any films in high school? What were they about?

Max: We had a film that I wrote called “Naked and Afraid: Office Space Edition,” which took the survival concept of the original show, and juxtaposed it into a business setting. So you have these naked businessmen trying to fix printers and send faxes wearing nothing but their ties. We’re going to be remaking that one soon because we like the concept.

Kyle: We only did a few films while in high school.

Max: Kyle and I mostly performed on the stage during that time. We captained our improv team together, and starred in almost every play. I was involved in a variety of theater organizations outside of school, and was a member of multiple touring choirs.

Kyle: I was our senior class president and valedictorian.

What classes are you taking now?

Max: I’m taking advanced acting, Greek Classics, European studies and theater tech
lab (where we learn how to light sets and build scenery).

Kyle: I just transferred into the major so I’m taking the intro classes.

Who are your most helpful, influential teachers at SDSU? What do they think of

Max: Randy Reinholz has been the most helpful. He was the head of the Acting Department, and now he’s the director of the whole program. He has been helping me grab scholarships so that I can afford Cannes, and he’s said that he sees me becoming an influential and successful alumni of SDSU. He enjoys “Showdown” and thinks it’s very funny.

Kyle: Adrian Alita, current head of acting. He has also been monumentally helpful in integrating me into the major. He thinks that “Showdown” is a blast.

When did Cannes notify you of selection? Your reaction? Your celebration?

Max: Cannes notified me a month later after the Campus Movie Festival victory. I was filled with joy, and felt extremely validated. To celebrate, I let Kyle know, and then we began planning the path it would take to actually be able to afford and attend the festival.

What might you win potentially at Cannes?

Kyle: An internship, or a writing/performing job would be the biggest. That’s something that’s more earned than won, however. “Showdown” itself is up for Best Comedy as part of the Campus Movie Festival Finale, and Max is up for Best Actor nation-wide.

Who will go to Cannes representing “Showdown”?

Max: Kyle and I will be attending.

Will Cannes put you up, or do you pay for your own lodging?

Kyle: We are paying for our own lodging and are currently in debt because of it. We are trying to fundraise money so that we can afford the experience without being in debt.

How many people have seen “Showdown”?

Kyle: Between the festival runs, the YouTube page, and the various approval stages it went through, I’d say up in the several thousands.

Which specific spy movies contributed ideas to “Showdown”?

Max: Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.” For a franchise literally named Mission Impossible, he sure has completed a lot of missions, so that’s ridiculous right off the bat. The whole series feels like a vehicle to promote how “hip” and “cool” Tom Cruise still is.

And then there’s this scene where Tom Cruise is fighting this behemoth of a man, and this mongoloid doesn’t feel any pain. It made me wonder, what if these villains actually behaved like real people? If you broke through a glass window on a motorbike, you’d at least sprain your wrist, or get some sort of concussion. Or get stabbed with a real knife.

Where did the Axel Blades character name come from in “Showdown”?

Max: I’m a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson, and I had watched his movie “Boogie Nights” a month before I started writing the script for Showdown. Dirk Diggler highly influenced the named Axel Blades. It’s a cocky name that no parent would ever name their kid.

Who are your favorite directors?

Max: Paul Thomas Anderson, Woody Allen and Stanley Kubrick. Also Tim Heidecker and Eric Warheim.

Which are your favorite films?

Max: “There Will Be Blood,” “Midnight in Paris” and “Doctor Strangelove.”

Where does Party of Dos perform, and when? How many in this group?

Max: We are currently teamed up with the SDSU Improv team Iota Eta Pi. Comedic improv shows will be coming up shortly.

Kyle: We release original videos every Wednesday. We have also done commercials for local businesses, and have done comedic ad campaigns for student politicians.

Max: There are six of us. Kyle and myself founded the group. And then we have Travis Johnson, who plays the schlubby comedy roles. Aaron Calimlim is our handsome supporting man type. Lauren McCarthy is our leading lady. And Elias Martin is a versatile character actor. I write and edit a majority of the content.

Tell me about your families — jobs of your parents, siblings, etc.

Max: My mother (Susanne Renner) immigrated from Germany, and works for an organization called Challenge Day which prevents bullying in schools. My father (Charles Renner) is a family physician and isn’t sold on me becoming involved in the arts. My sister (Veronica Renner) is currently applying to colleges, and my older half brother (Chris Mills) is a construction manager.

Kyle: My father (Mike Metz) is the classic business man, and my mother (Denise Metz) works as an accountant. I have three brothers. My eldest brother (Mike) is into comedy writing, with another brother (Tyler) going to college at LMU, and a third brother (Ryan) working as a waiter.

What’s your next film project? Any chance of a feature-length film?

Max: Currently, I’m working on a mockumentary that follows the exploits of a professional studio audience member. I’m also involved in a leading role in a professional film in San Francisco as well as SDSU’s current musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone.

Kyle: I’m making connections and doing my circuit through a variety of student films on campus. Party of Dos releases 5-minute sketches every Wednesday, so we gotta keep up with that as well.

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