Interview with Filmmaker Jack Hessler (SHY LITTLE BOY)

SHY LITTLE BOY played to rave reviews at the March 2022 LGBTQ+ Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

– I moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming in high school. I was in the closet for the majority of my time there with next to no LGBTQ+ role models or representation. Years later, when I found a story about a queer person there, I jumped on the opportunity to tell part of their story! My goal is to shed light on the LGBTQ+ community in Jackson Hole to give young people (and people of all ages) the queer role models that I never had.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

– I began pre-production in January 2020, then did the main shoot in mid-February 2020. I started editing over the next few months, and spent a long time exploring different paths with the footage and getting distracted by other projects. It wasn’t until about a year later, March 2021, that I finished the first rough cut, and not until January 2022 that I picture locked and did the color correction and sound mix. So all in all, it took around 2 years.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

– Stripped-down drag

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

– This was a pure passion project with no budget or crew. Thankfully, I was able to borrow camera/sound gear and had some talented friends help me with production. In my experience, when a film has no budget and no hard deadline, it tends to drag on for a long time. Other projects come in, you get busy and creatively drained, and lose momentum on the original project. You keep editing occasionally, but never quite give it the time it needs to really let the story emerge, so you lose faith in the project and it becomes this cycle. But, if you persevere long enough you can hopefully finish it eventually! So the biggest obstacle was not having a budget.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

– It was so fun watching the audience feedback! It was very encouraging and heartwarming to hear that people related to the message. There were a few people from California and they appreciated getting to see queer culture in a place that’s much different than the accepting liberal world they’re used to.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

– When I was in college, I finally started to come out of the closet and realized how depraved of queer culture I’d been for entire life. I was studying psychology, learning about how the world around us and our culture shapes us, and how related self-acceptance and mental health are. Right around when Donald Trump got elected, and when racial tensions were beginning to boil in the USA, I remember having a conversation with a friend about how to change the world (as a naive 20 year old does). We decided that you can change the world through making movies, that you can change the way people think by sharing stories about amazing, underrepresented groups of people – help prove to people that we’re all just another human living on this world trying to be happy and take care of the people and things we love! But also, when I started working in film professionally, I fell in love with the craft itself, of getting to know awesome people, and trying to curate their story in a way that people can relate to.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

– In my life, Zoolander. In recent years, Get Out.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

– It would be great to have some type of virtual cocktail hour or mingle with other filmmakers and programmers. What would be really amazing, would be to set up some type of speed pitching with directors/producers and investors/networks!

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

– The platform is great.

10. What is your favorite meal?

– Chicken tikka masala

11. What is next for you? A new film?

– I’m currently working as the head of post production at WZRDmedia, a film production company in Salt Lake City, Utah. I’ve been spending lots of time screenwriting over the last few years, mainly in the genre of queer psychological thrillers/horrors. I’ll have a short finished in the next few months and am excited to find a way to make a scripted feature soon!

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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