We caught up with local filmmaker Lisa Belcher to chat about her new short film “The Gift” which premiered in Austin at the end of January.
Lisa has been working in the film industry for the past 17 years, and “The Gift” was her first chance to call the shots. It was a feat that she admits she may not haven been fully ready for, but she surrounded herself with an experienced crew and remained open to suggestions along the way.
“The Gift” was a film she always wanted to make, and the opportunity arose while Lisa was living in Hong Kong. The film centers around a young boy’s (Bobby) journey through adolescence. His father gives him a gift at birth that he takes along with him, desperately trying to remain faithful to it despite the challenges he faces along the way. It is a true coming of age tale, and touches all of the major themes: feeling different, standing up for what you believe in and holding on to your gift.
For Lisa, the entire experience was one of collaboration and chance. “So much had to come together, I can’t believe it happened,” she shares. This was her first time directing, and her DP, Derrick Fong, lent a helping hand. “He was open to all of my dumb questions,” and took a chance to work with her in order to make The Gift happen. Without a large budget, Lisa invested time in working with local resources in Hong Kong, often trading services for cameos in the film. She recalls the generosity of the Santa Fe Moving Company offering transportation for art, equipment and the cast and crew throughout the entirety of filming. In exchange, she included their moving boxes in a scene. The mothers of some of the young actors offered their help with costumes and hair without even having to be asked. “So many people gave to make this movie happen, it was a win-win experience. There are always opportunities to give to others in this life that it is worth your time to help,” says Lisa.
In Austin she has found a similar mentality. The film community is an interconnected and supportive group. There are tons of ways to connect with other creatives including at the Austin Film Meets and Austin Revolution Film Fest. For anyone eager to break into the film industry, Lisa says a great attitude is the best attribute. “It’s easy to get involved with the right attitude. As long as people are willing to be flexible, ask questions and just be excited!” Lisa is currently working on multiple scripts and potentially directing more features in the near future.