Earlier this year, Vimeo, Dolby, Ghetto Film School, and Little Ugly (a production company founded by Blindspotting director, Carlos Lopez Estrada) teamed up to create the Emerge! Filmmaking Lab, an initiative to provide up-and-coming creatives with the resources and support networks to make their own short films. Applicants were asked to provide treatments for shorts revolving around the themes of identity and place. Then, three creators were chosen to receive $5,000 and mentorship from a writer, director, and producer in order to produce their pitched short film.
Recently, it was announced that writer, director, and producer Lexx Truss is the inaugural grand prize winner of the Emerge! Filmmaking Lab for his short film, “Zarina”. His winning work is a psychological thriller that paints the haunting tale of a woman who endures frequent nightmares about her own death. The film made us hold our breath for a solid four minutes, so you know that Lexx’s work is the real deal.
Hailing from Greensboro, North Carolina, Lexx has been cutting his teeth as a creator for years. In 2015, he graduated from Point Park University's Cinema & Digital Arts program in Pittsburgh. Since then, he’s freelanced on various productions and even participated in the Cannes Short Film Corner through TIFF’s “We Made It In Toronto” Filmmaker Institute. His writing has also attracted industry attention, as he was selected as the winner of the 2018 Shore Scripts Logline Contest for his comedy short, “A Kid Named Leslie.”
Lexx hopes to keep his southern roots as an influence on his future projects: “I want to do three types of films. One that is a semi-autobiographical project that reflects experiences in my life and the things around me. Next, Southern fables that are basically moral tales that are not totally grounded in reality but the morals are. These staple stories that are set in the south, mainly based in North Carolina. And films that are about the things I care about. Social satire. Political things. I wouldn’t say I try to have those things in all my films, but those are three types of films that I want to make.” To find an artist so invested in keeping the energy of the place that raised him alive in his work is not something to turn a blind eye to. That kind of loyalty can be hard to come by in this industry, and finding that in Lexx feels like coming above water after a hold-your-breath-underwater-to-prove-a-point contest.
"The more we remind ourselves as filmmakers to learn from each film, the better we will grow and show that opportunity to make our next film."
In terms of the Emerge program, he says it was one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences he has had with filmmaking thus far. “It was really fun to shoot the project but super stressful after the fact. We basically had to turn the film in 10 days. My quickest turnaround yet. So we did five days with editing. I still have some PTSD over it!” says Lexx. “Then we had to turn it in for picture lock and color and then we turned the film in five days after that. It was late July or early August when I found out that I was the winner. And I was lost for words…It was definitely the top of my year for sure.”
The program was an unforgettable learning experience for Lexx, and he hopes that future applicants of the project open themselves up to the lessons, too. “Remind yourself to learn. It was a learning lesson. I am learning and not showing how much of a master I am at the craft. I am still learning to get to that level. The more we remind ourselves as filmmakers to learn from each film, the better we will grow and show that opportunity to make our next film,” says Lexx.
As part of the grand prize, “Zarina” will be screened to industry players all over LA.. We personally can’t wait for the day when the rest of the world can witness the mind-bending beauty of Lexx’s work on the big screen.