Kyle Alvarez

Less than 10 years after graduating from the film program, Kyle Patrick Alvarez made his debut at the Sundance Film Festival last January with C.O.G., a movie he wrote, produced and directed.

The film, based on a piece from David Sedaris’ essay collection, Naked, was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the category of drama. The award, which recognizes the best dramatic submission from the independent film community, went to Fruitvale, directed by Ryan Coogler.

“Getting into Sundance was a lifelong dream of mine, so for it to come true meant the world to me,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez said his decision to adapt David Sedaris’ essay was an obvious one, since he is a big fan of Sedaris and has read all his work.

“I just really loved it and thought it was really sincere and personal and, especially, funny,” Alvarez said

C.O.G. centers on a young man who travels to Oregon to work on an apple farm. Alvarez shot the film in Portland in little less than three weeks.

The cast, led by Jonathan Groff (known for his roles in Taking Woodstock and The Conspirator), includes Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris), Denis O’Hare (True Blood) and Casey Wilson (Happy Endings).

 “They all had such strong technique and were really grounded with how they approached their characters,” Alvarez said. “It just made for a really smooth and fun experience.”

C.O.G. is Alvarez’s second feature film. His first, Easier with Practice, which told the story of a reclusive writer, was based on a GQ article written by Davy Rothbart.

Alvarez, 29, was born in Miami and majored in film production at UM. He said he had dreamed of working the film industry since he started watching Hitchcock films as an 8-year-old.

Although he graduated in 2005, Alvarez says he has stayed in close touch with some of his UM classmates.

 “I still work with a few of the people I was making student films with,” Alvarez said. “So it’s a nice feeling to keep those relationships going from college all the way to the professional world.”

Associate Professor Ed Talavera recalled Alvarez’s dedication in his advanced production course.

“He was always a filmmaker and worked extremely hard,” Talavera said. “I remember him working on Key Western, his final film at our school, and the amazing amount of time and energy he devoted to make sure it was a great film.”