El Cine: URBAN-15’s 5th Annual Josiah Media Festival

San Antonio desperately needs a new generation of filmmakers to shake things up. And the younger, the better. That’s where URBAN-15’s 5th Annual Josiah Media Festival comes in handy.

Named after Josiah Miles Neundorf, a 20-year-old local media artist who passed away in 2006 from bone cancer, the festival will take place July 7-9 at the URBAN-15 Studio ($5-$7, three-day pass $15, 8pm, 2500 S Presa, tickets at the door or at urban-15.ticketleap.com/josiahmediafestival) and will show 80 films from 17 schools in 17 cities from five states. San Antonio is one of those cities, and 18-year-old Nicolas Wachter is one of the local young directors who, I predict, we’ll hear about in years to come. At the very least, he should be commended for The Receptionist, the short he directed, in which he overcame all sorts of last-minute obstacles and pulled off a nice piece of work with a story that’s no big deal, but is possessed with a gorgeous look, a stunning location (a new, vacant condo building on Huebner and I-10), and a creepy-funny Barton Fink-meets-The Shining atmosphere.

“Once I gained permission for the location, I began to scout for an actor,” said Wachter, who will be a senior at Communication Arts High School (he was a junior when he made the film). “I found one luckily, but he later bailed on me a day before shooting.” He found a replacement at the very last second (Anthony Peterson, who graduated during Wachter’s freshman year), but there was another problem: After shooting the only exterior scene at a cemetery, Wachter — who at that point was on the verge of a nervous breakdown due to the last-minute flake — realized he didn’t have everything he needed to film the original script at the building. That’s when his creative chops took over.

“Immediately, when I spotted the reception at the table, ideas flew into my head,” Wachter said. “Me and Anthony began to come up with the whole story in a matter of 30 minutes.”

The Receptionist won in the Best Narrative category, and you have three chances to see it — it will be shown on all three days of the festival.

“I had a great time shooting it and was completely satisfied with my final product,” said Wachter. “But I hope that in the future I won’t be the only person working as hard as I do just to make a film.”

Don’t worry, kid. Talent like yours is magnetic. Once you’re noticed, you should have no problem sharing the creative burden.


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