With the Austin Revolution Film Festival set to kick off this Tuesday, September 20th, the anticipation for a slate of exciting and diverse cinematic offerings begins to grow. While many stellar features from established veterans and young renegades alike showcase the very best the indie world has to offer, it is the short films that often have the power to steal the show; the bounty of independently produced shorts appearing at this year’s Austin Revolution Film Festival are no exception.
The engine that powers a successful short film is, quite simply, one artist’s vision and the wherewithal to see it through to realization. It should come as no surprise, then, that most memorable short film directors are often exposed as meticulous workaholics with the ability to focus on a million tiny details without losing the big picture. Lisa Belcher is one such intrepid soul.
Based on a 2004 short story by her brother, author, and entrepreneur Steve Wayne, the idea of The Gift as a short film floated through Belcher’s mind for years. Likely, it was simply Belcher’s love for the story that spurred her onward, but perhaps the fact that the plot embodies so much of what it means to be an independent craftswoman of short films is the same thing that made it a very necessary story to tell.
The cast in place, the crew assembled, the script was revised and polished umpteen times. All that remained to be secured was a budget. While many would-be filmmakers allow themselves to admit defeat at the sight of a five-figure budget, only the driven press onward.
If The Gift is just that—a present—then Belcher is Santa Claus to a lot of newcomers who find themselves exposed to the international film community. First-time actors without a credit to their names are now being nominated for acting awards; a mostly novice crew was able to cut its teeth on a professional quality production they can be proud of; and Lisa Belcher herself has launched a flare into the sky and dramatically announced her coming out as a talent to watch closely in the coming years.
Lisa Belcher and The Gift may be nominated for 7 awards at the Austin Revolution Film Festival—including Best Texas Director, Female Filmmaker of the Year, and Best Foreign Short—but the real testament to Belcher’s independent spirit is the very existence of The Gift itself.