Young Director Pays “The Fee” in Filmmaking: Temple University student follows his intuition


William Martinko smiles while viewing footage.

Clare Heller
Oxford Stories

Most people only dream of seeing their name on the big-screen, but for amateur filmmaker William Martinko, this dream has become a reality.

Currently a sophomore at Temple University in Philadelphia, Martinko has been producing films since middle school, and his works range from gripping shorts to full-length features. In a world filled with so much noise, he has used his talent to make his voice and message heard loud and clear.

His passion for movies mixed with his creative talents in grade school when he began making stop-motion films with LEGO sets based on some of his favorite blockbusters. He was inspired by films like “Tarzan” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” which he said had the power to take him “into different worlds.”

In seventh grade, Martinko’s dreams saw the first glimmer of hope when his short film, “LEGO Green Lantern” was picked up by Warner Brothers and the LEGO Company and distributed on Comcast OnDemand. From that point on, Martinko knew that he had found his calling.

“That was when I knew that what I was doing was right, and that I should keep moving forward with it,” he said.

Moving forward in his career, Martinko has experimented with his films allowing him to grow and develop his own personal style and brand. One thing that has remained constant, however, is his desire to inspire his audience.

He has released many projects, including an impactful short about sexual assault titled “Rerun,” a full-length feature “Teardrops of PainT,” and a short horror film about the Tooth Fairy called “The Fee.” Although each of his films are unique, they are all linked with the same message.

“With each and every one of my films, I want to present a theme or idea that makes the audience think about their own lives and the world around them,” says Martinko.

He said “The Fee” could be his favorite project. “There was just something about making and releasing ‘The Fee’ that felt like lightning in a bottle.”

Twisting the traditional story, Martinko turned this whimsical children’s tale into a horror film, forcing the audience to question the effect of fairytales on young kids.

“I was able to present a theme in which parents could sit and ask themselves if the fantasies of the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, etc. are actually destroying the children themselves,” he said.

To simply entertain is not enough; he desires to create films that will make the audience stop and think about the reality of the world today.

Gaspare Interrante, friend and member of the production crew, has seen firsthand the impact that Martinko’s films have had.

“Everyone in the community knows Will and his works,” he said. “Aside from his films, he has done projects for schools, businesses, and local organizations. He has even sparked creativity in others. The movie he made during his freshman year of high school “School of the Dead” … inspired those younger than him to accomplish creative projects that they were interested in.”

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Martinko with his production crew.

Martinko shows no signs of slowing down as he moves forward in his career. He draws inspiration from everyday life. Whenever an idea or story catches his attention, he records it and “when it’s time to jump onto a project, I can move through my notes and see which one catches my eye,” he said.

Despite this endless stream of inspiration, Martinko has had his share of rejection, yet he continues to push through to prove the doubters wrong. He uses this as motivation and focuses on the bigger picture.

“What I do is create worlds and tell stories that have the potential to live on beyond my own lifetime,” he said. “That’s the power of cinema.”

Filmmaking has allow Martinko to create new worlds and develop lifelong friendships with his team. Some of his closest relationships have been formed while working on projects.

“Our shoot days are some of the most fun I’ve ever had,” said Interrante. “Working with friends to create a film we care about is something I truly cherish.”

Martinko said he wouldn’t change anything about any of his films because each decision he made, right or wrong, has made him the filmmaker he is today.

Years of experience have taught him valuable life lessons. Looking back, he would tell his younger self, “Don’t question yourself because you being you is what will get you the furthest, and it’s what has gotten you to this point.”


Martinko gives direction for a scene.

Martinko continues to follow his intuition as he develops new projects and continues his film education. Describing his life as a “whirlwind,” he sees the future wide open and filled with possibilities, and is ready to see where the journey will take him.

He hopes to keep moving forward in the horror genre, saying, “It’s just such a fun genre to create within because it gives you the opportunity to be inventive with your surroundings and build a ‘tower of suspense.’”

This small town filmmaker has made his name known in his community and the film industry with his innovative ideas and impactful messages. Starting with LEGO casts, to seeing his short film “We Need to Talk” played at the AMC Empire 25 in Times Square, Martinko has established himself as a serious filmmaker unafraid to take risks and make a statement.

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