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“I had six people helping me with post-production, and covid-19 threw a big wrench into everything,” said Black, 22, of Murrysville. “They said they couldn’t really work on it, they needed to focus on other things trying to make money. So I had to work on it all on my home computer.”
That work paid off, through: Black earned an honorable mention in the “Best Original Story” category at the November 2020 Top Shorts online film festival.
The film tells the story of Barry Lee Symonds, a middle-aged IT professional who is over-worked and stretched thin trying to save his career, marriage and life. The short film was shot in September 2019 during Mental Health Awareness Week, and includes themes of suicide and depression grounded in a story about blue-collar America.
“There’s a lot of poetry in those places,” Black said. “I wanted to spread a light on the (everyday) people out there. We’re not quite sure what they’re going through, we’re not sure what’s happening with them, but they have stories to share.”
Black said he enjoyed “watching the dominoes fall, in a good way,” during the creative process.
“You put so much work into it in the beginning,” he said. “But at some point, you’re kind of riding on the wave, and seeing the dominoes fall. It’s almost something you can’t control anymore, and it’s a sight to behold.”
Black said his favorite part of the film-making process is when the full story “starts revealing itself to you. That part is really, really fun.”
Revealing that story to others has also been an enjoyable process, particularly when the result was a Top Shorts honorable mention.
“It certified this sort of (feeling of) OK — someone out there was able to watch it and whatever they got from it was worthwhile,” Black said. “It warmed my heart.”
The 2017 Franklin Regional alum and Liberty University graduate said he’d like to reveal more of Pittsburgh’s beauty to others by way of his film-making.
“The city is so beautiful, there’s so much life and energy,” he said. “I feel like we need to have a movie that’s like ‘Annie Hall’ for Pittsburgh. If there’s anything I can do to help with that, I’m going to try.”
Black is finalizing legal issues surrounding the release of “What’s Left of Barry,” but a trailer is available on YouTube.
Even after it’s released, however, Black said he’s sure his creative impulses will still nag at him.
“It’s great to see the chapter flipping, but I’m a perfectionist,” he said. “I always want to flip back a few pages and scribble.”
AandE | Local | Movies/TV | Murrysville Star | Westmoreland