Metro-East Living

This Freeburg graduate is shooting a feature film in the small towns where he grew up

Freeburg graduate is shooting feature film 'Trapped in Schizophrenia'

A 2000 Freeburg High School graduate, Carlos Hagene, is shooting feature films in small towns where he grew up. The psychological thriller, “Trapped in Schizophrenia,” is about a series of murders that happen in a small town.
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A 2000 Freeburg High School graduate, Carlos Hagene, is shooting feature films in small towns where he grew up. The psychological thriller, “Trapped in Schizophrenia,” is about a series of murders that happen in a small town.

Carlos Hagene’s projects have become a family affair, so it’s not surprising his next movie will be partly shot in Smithton, where he grew up.

In fact, Saturday’s planned shoot at Mueth’s Tavern is a block away from his parents’ home, Bill and Mary Hagene. He expects to see familiar faces during their filming in town, and in Red Bud.

Besides, the locale fits. The psychological thriller, “Trapped in Schizophrenia,” is about a series of murders that happen in a small town.

Hagene, a 2000 graduate of Freeburg High School, has basically been making films since he was a teen.

“I live for this stuff,” he said. “I was very inspired as a kid. I’m a very energetic person. I was always outgoing in high school.”

His company is called Arch Films, and his previous business was Mid-West Entourage Company.

He wants to get Hollywood’s attention.

“We love shooting here, and it’s good to use local talent. The St. Louis market is overlooked, and it’s sad,” he said. “There’s a lot of great locations to use. St. Louis has a lot of very talented people, and our goal is to use them.”

Hagene is what’s referred to in the business as a hyphenate. He’s a producer, director, actor and model. However, he has concentrated more on the behind-the-scenes aspects since 2013.

Some of the short films he has made include a romantic comedy, “Seven Minutes”; “The Right Kind of Wrong”; “Mariah”; “Stopping Before We Go” and an anti-bullying message movie, “The Wreckoning.”

Hagene’s wife, screenwriter Julie M. Hale, is co-directing the new feature-length film with him. Married for seven years, the pair, who lives in St. Louis, often collaborate and have numerous projects going simultaneously. They met at a photo shoot.

Carlos and Julie Hagene
Carlos Hagene and his wife, screenwriter Julie M. Hale, are co-directing a new feature-length psychological thriller called “Trapped in Schizophrenia.” Provided

They have regular day jobs — she owns a chef and catering company, and works as a chef part-time at Washington University.

A graduate of Vatterott College, Hagene also attended Southwestern Illinois College, and studied engineering and computer technology. He works for a fiberglass company.

“We mesh really well. We have a lot in common. We’re both adopted, too,” he said. “Writing is her passion, and so is cooking. It goes hand in hand. We’re going to be a power couple.”

“We share a lot,” Hale said. “With our full-time jobs, and our film work, it can be challenging. It doesn’t leave us a lot of time for us.”

But writing has been a passion since her youth.

“I love writing. I had poetry published when I was 9, a book published when I was 12 years old. I have written five full-length scripts. We’ll see how this one goes,” she said.

One thing is for certain. She loves writing this type of genre. “Just call me the Queen of Horror!” she said.

She researched serial killers and schizophrenia to write the script.

“Moments are loosely based on a true story. I knew a person who struggled with schizophrenia, and there are a lot of his situations in the script. We sat down and talked about it,” she said. “He was abused; his mother was a drug addict. He has terrible experiences. Some of the stuff really happened. Not all of it is true — he did not turn out to be a serial killer.”

When her husband read the script, he thought it was “too dark.” But he sent it out, and response was favorable. Script Mechanics, a free screenwriting workshop sponsored by MCA of St. Louis, a media and film organization, has table-reads of selected scripts and their session was productive.

“We got positive feedback on the script, and we’re shooting what’s probably the seventh or eighth draft,” he said.

Hale laughed. “More than that! We went to Script Mechanics, I talked to a ghost writer. Several glasses of wine and cups of coffee later, we had three-to-four more rewrites,” she said.

She thinks people will respond to the film.

“It’s real. People can relate to the detective’s character. He works a full-time job and tries to provide for his family,” she said. “He’s constantly trying to balance everything. There’s something for everyone in the movie.”

While Hagene spends more time now networking to get projects financed and made, he wants to create more opportunities in this area and the Midwest.

“It’s not just St. Louis, but also Chicago, Springfield and Kansas City,” he said.

He also is working on an outlet, such as Amazon, where people can see his films.

Born in the Philippines, his parents adopted him when he was 6 years old. Hagene has used the last name of his first foster family, Valenzuela, sometimes too.

“Trapped in Schizophrenia” has a planned release date set for Dec. 6, 2019.

Aaron Smolinski, a Hollywood-based actor, is playing the villain. Hagene said they will be shooting around his schedule. They have a scene at the Red Bud IGA planned for March 3-4.

Hagene calls him “Superman,” as Smolinski played the baby Clark Kent in the 1978 “Superman” movie starring Christopher Reeve. He played a communications officer in “Man of Steel” in 2013.

Hagene said he knew Smolinski and asked him to be involved. They have created a family of fellow artists, too, who share their passion for movie making. He has worked before with director of photography Aaron Markham. First assistant director is Steve Poggomiller.

“The film crew becomes a family. We become a family,” Hale said. “We have such a good relationship that we spend time outside of filming together.”

Hale said that the local film community is connected in a nurturing way.

“Everyone wants to see others be successful. We’ll get calls asking for help or advice,” she said. “St. Louis is so small that everyone helps each other out, and we’re all pushing for each other. I just love this.”

Shawn Chevalier, who plays a supporting role as Sharon, a detective’s wife, said she made “Mariah” with them several years ago.

“I know they have a couple of awards under their belt and I’m hoping that momentum will continue with this one,” she said.

Arch Films’ next project is a “Star Wars” fan film called “The Battle for the Holocrons.”

Star Wars fan film
Movie poster for “Star Wars” fan film called “Star Wars: The Battle of the Holocrons.” Provided

Hagene will be up in Chicago for Jedi training next month.

Arch Films can be found on Facebook and Twitter, and there is also a separate page for the “Trapped in Schizophrenia” film, too. For more information, e-mail