Lonely Wolf International
Film Festival 2022
In a world where words cost money, a woman saves up for her first word in the hope of standing up to her abuser.
Hi Wesley, great to talk with you, have you been able to remain positive and creative at least?
I get inspired really easily so anything — whether it be a conversation I had with my friend or a really good book — can trigger an avalanche of thoughts for a new script.
You have had a great festival run with Mute, picking up multiple nominations and awards, did you imagine your film would get such a warm response for this film?
Not at all. I’d imagined attending film festivals and receiving some awards, but nothing of this magnitude.
Congratulations on your nomination at Lonely Wolf in the Best Student Film and Best Young Filmmaker categories, what has it meant to you to get this type of recognition for your film?
For me, awards are more motivational than anything else. If you’re receiving praise and nominations from prestigious festivals and juries, that means you’re doing something right.
What do you hope to take away from your experience at Lonely Wolf?
I hope to meet new talented filmmakers and build industry connections with distribution and financing companies that attend the festival.
How important are festivals like Lonely Wolf in championing and supporting indie filmmakers?
Most festivals are generally insubstantial in making a legitimate impact in the independent filmmaking community, but Lonely Wolf clearly comes from a genuine place of heart and passion for the art. Adrian Perez, the director of the festival and a filmmaker himself, knows how it feels to walk away from a film festival feeling like you’ve achieved nothing, and so he’s constantly pushing to find opportunities for his fellow filmmakers.
Can you tell me how Mute came about, what was the inspiration behind your screenplay?
Funny story — I actually was scrolling through a Sub-Reddit called r/producemyscript, where screenwriters will post their loglines and scripts for anyone to read and possibly produce. 99% of the scripts there are terrible and probably less than 0.1% of scripts have been actually produced, but this one logline caught my eye: “in a world where words cost money, a woman saves up for her first word in the hope of standing up to her abuser.” I immediately reached out to the writer, he liked my work, and I optioned it. So not really my screenplay, but I definitely wanted to explore such a piercing social issue with a grounded sci-fi premise.
How close do you like to keep to your screenplay, did you allow yourself much flexibility?
It depends. Mute’s structure was particularly rigid so there was no room for improvisation, but for other more dynamic projects with montages and such, there’s a lot of flexibility in the script.
What was the message you wanted to convey with this film, do you think you have achieved this?
I think the message is pretty clear even from the premise — society has a loop of injustice where class inequality creates the power to censor, which encourages abuse without consequences. Thus, abuse (in all forms) stems from power and censorship, and the silenced must speak out to end this abuse.
What was the hardest scene for you to film?
Probably the rape scene. Difficult to film and difficult to watch, but hopefully it wasn’t without purpose.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Since I watched Whiplash when I was 12.
How has your approach to your films changed since your debut short film?
I used to be pretty close-minded when it came to my direction on my first few projects, but with Mute, there were so many wonderful collaborators I worked with that made me realize the unlimited possibilities with a community of feedback.
You are the co-founder of SCRIPTOPIC, how did this project come about?
My friends and I were bored during the pandemic, and we came up with an idea to support fellow filmmakers through a social media platform that would promote their content. We’ve now amassed a community of over 1900 filmmakers, and we plan to continue growing.
"Thus, abuse (in all forms) stems from power and censorship, and the silenced must speak out to end this abuse."
Are there any themes you are looking to explore with future films?
My previous work has been extremely distant from what I actually experience in life, so with my next few films I want to look inward and make more personal work.
You are currently in pre-production on your next film, can you tell me anything about this?
We can’t disclose much, but my next project will be a coming-of-age short film produced by Scott Aharoni, whose films have won awards and premiered at Sundance, SXSW, and Tribeca. Starring David Mazouz (FOX’s Gotham) as the lead.
Do you have any tips or advice to offer fellow filmmakers?
Never stray from something you feel really strongly about.
And finally, what would you like audiences to take away from Mute?
The rise in censorship only makes it more important for us to speak out.