Published: Oct 23, 2012 06:00 PM
Modified: Oct 23, 2012 06:02 PM
HOLLY SPRINGS - Charles Witosky had never been to a film festival – until his homemade short debuted at the Austin Film Festival last weekend.
A week before leaving for Texas, the 16-year-old wasn’t sure how he’d handle himself as his work flickered onscreen at The Hideout Theatre, a downtown Austin joint. For most of his year-long career, his audiences have been friends and family.
“When I hand my scripts to my parents, I don’t like watching them read it,” he said. “They get very judgmental looks on their faces.”
But his work, apparently, has been judged pretty well. Witosky’s “Free Clones” was one of 15 teenagers’ short films to be displayed at the prestigious festival this year. The gathering, now in its 19th year, has attracted names from Oliver Stone to Wes Anderson.
The Holly Springs High School junior threw his hat in the festival’s selection pool at the urging of a screenwriter friend, figuring he could see family in Texas while he was at it. He has produced a number of movies on his JVC camera and Apple computer but settled on “Free Clones” as the best candidate.
The two-minute film is anchored by an editing trick that makes it seem as if actor Andrew Nicklaw has been cloned – and the copies are having a bit of a tiff. They can’t seem to decide who exactly has the rights to their cloning machine.
As the festival tagged it: “No one discusses the legal implications of cloning yourself.”
“Usually I don’t look for ideas; a lot of times an idea will just come to me,” Witosky said. “ ... A lot of times it’s really bad. I look at my script, and I think, ‘I can’t shoot this.’ ”
Witosky also makes promotional videos for the town of Holly Springs as an intern.
“Charles is 16 going on 30,” joked town spokesman Mark Andrews.
“I think I’m going to keep writing,” Witosky said. “I like to make as many (films) as possible. I’ve been told that each one is a little bit better. I’m just going to keep making movies.”
As the Austin festival approached, Witosky was preparing for a few frenzied days. He was scheduled for a question-and-answer session about his film, a meeting with a director and introductions to stars.
And if anyone asks about the meaning of the twist ending to his surreal short, he might admit that he doesn’t know either.