Courtesy Photo



Director Keith Schwalenberg

This short film portrays a late night, texting-inspired escapade by a teenage kid who sneaks into a backyard and stumbles upon a scene that he’ll never forget. And not in a good way.

Where did the idea for this story come from?

When I was young, I often snuck out to meet up with friends or to shoot night photography. In the small suburban town I grew up in, at 2 a.m., there is real silence. House after house asleep. Walking in this quiet, my 13-year-old imagination would cook up situations, a drug deal gone wrong with a shoot out, everyone runs, but the cash remains. Take it? Call the cops? Or a domestic fight is going on, do you step in to help the victim? I always told myself, I’d be “the hero,” and take the risk.

I’d often have to trespass onto peoples lawns to avoid being seen by the very bored police or to get to a friends backyard without their parents hearing me. It was there where I thought up running into something much more troubling and more morally complicated. It stuck with me for years and I wanted to present that question in a film.

Your handling of the manic texting that we all do now was great. How did you figure out how to display that form of communication?

We had to edit that scene a few times after test screening it, you have to keep a fast pace to make it seem real but still slow enough for reading retention. I felt that having Oliviah under the sheets with Manny for a split second helped us feel the human connection and context for his excitement.

Was it difficult to find young actors? Was there any more difficulty because the film deals with taboo issues of sneaking out/in and, well, I don’t want to ruin it, but other taboo issues?

Casting is always hard on an independent budget, but we were very lucky to meet Manny and Oliviah; they both were professional and extremely creative. I think finding a mature minded young person is key to be able to communicate. Otherwise you might be stuck with what you got in the audition.

What’s your Santa Barbara connection?

When I left Connecticut after high school, I came right to Brooks Institute of Photography and met many amazing people I still work with to this day. We made many films here and loved the art friendly community, it was a wonderful place to introduce me to California. My producer Joey Joyce was also a Brookie and lives in Ventura with his wife.

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