HE WON'T BELONG, 22min., USA, Drama
Directed by Dominic Mercurio
In the midst of a storm on a desolate strip of California’s lost coast, Theo spots a young shivering stranger named Connor on the side of the road and brings him back to his home for shelter. While they wait for the storm to pass, they begin to uncover each others past wounds.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
A personal experience I had with a close friend kicked off the initial concept, but there were so many more moments of inspiration along that way that continually made me so excited to make this film. After the bones of the story were in place it became really exciting to be telling a story that played around with audience expectations. Especially expectations we have when two gay men are at the center of a story. I also was very motivated to offer my portrayal of anxiety / panic attacks / nightmares on screen. It was very cathartic.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
From the very first idea of it…oh boy. Far too long due to covid but…it was almost 5 years.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
As with any film, there were so many. Filmmaking oftentimes feels like a series of seemingly insurmountable obstacles until you just kinda find that alternate path. But to focus on an interesting one – the power at the house we were shooting at cut out when we had just 3 or 4 shots left to shoot after 3 long days of filming. and these weren’t shots we could just cut, they were essential. We had no choice but to wait for what was surely over an hour in the dark just *hoping* the power would come back so we could finish the film. There was a sort of humor to it all, like it just felt unbelievable that’d we’d made it so far and a power outage is what finally got us. But probably the more accurate but boring answer is covid.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It’s always such a thrill to hear people echo back to you sentiments and concepts you weave into your work hoping people will pick up on and resonate with.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I mean looking back there were plenty of signs that filmmaking was in the cards for me at a very early age, but it was when I made my first short film in 8th grade that I began to see the magic in bringing something from your mind to reality in that way. It was love at first sight.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
It’s gotta be The Nightmare Before Christmas or Pee Wee’s Big Adventure simply because as a kid I’d sometimes watch those movies multiple times in the same day. The amount I’ve seen them is just countless. I don’t tend to rewatch films much unless I’m showing someone else the film. The most impactful films to me just ring so vividly in my mind for years after seeing them.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I always love meeting other filmmakers, so I think screenings in theaters and ways to connect with the other selected filmmakers are essential. Especially in this post-covid time when so many people seem content to *not* go to the theater anymore.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
FilmFreeway definitely makes submitting to festivals incredibly simple.
10. What is your favorite meal?
This is just simply an impossible question for me. But I suppose if you put a perfectly juicy steak in front of me I’d be quite happy. Or should I have said mushroom pasta to tie in with the film? Too late!
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I’m definitely writing another film at the moment, but it’s a bit too early to talk about it yet.