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Interview: Boys on Film X: The Directors – Evan Robert

3 min read

The tenth installment of one of cinema’s most celebrated short film series Boys on Film X is set to be an explosive cinematic exploration of LGBT themes and lifestyles.

Leading up the last months anticipated release, we at Renowned For Sound spoke with some of the directors involved in the release to discuss their films.

In today’s interview we chat to Evan Roberts about his short, Yeah, Kowalski!

Florence Hinton-Collyer: How would you pitch your short?

Evan Roberts: Yeah, Kowalski! is a coming of age film about a teenager who learns the value of being true to himself. His hairless, awkward, pre-pubescent self. Along with armpit worship, teenaged bravado masked as swagger and a disastrous pool party- Yeah, Kowalski! features a fantastic lead performance by Cameron Wofford.

Boys on Film InsertFHC: What do you hope for the audience to take away from having watched your film?

ER: I want audiences to laugh, first and foremost, at Gabe’s panache and bold creative problem solving.  Ultimately, Yeah, Kowalski! is about self-acceptance and being OK with where you’re at in life, where you’re at in puberty, etc.  Anxiety about the developing body during your teenage years is a universal experience for men and women, so I want audiences to laugh and squirm and deeply relate to the protagonist.

FHC: Why did you choose to depict this particular narrative?

ER: Stories with a personal connection to my own experience are the easiest for me to tell.  I’ve never attempted anything like what is depicted in the film, but the opening scene was right out of a Sex Education class I had in middle school. When I started to conceptualize the film, I tried to imagine the unique ways that a teenager might try and fit in and be accepted, and just went from there. Writing is often about wish fulfilment for me, and I wish that I were as bold as Kowalski when I was his age.

FHC: How does Yeah Kowalski challenge boundaries?

ER: I’ve had people tell me that it’s refreshing to see a film about a gay teenager where their sexuality is not what is driving the conflict. That was very intentional on my part because I wasn’t interested in making a film where the main character was not angsty about that part of themselves. He’s evolved enough where that’s not an issue- and yet he’s still struggling with how people perceive him. For Kowalski, if people perceive him as gay- it’s irrelevant, it’s a non-issue. Lacking armpit hair is a whole other issue entirely, however.

FHC: Do you think society places too much emphasis on the external body as representative of the internal person, when this is not always the case?

ER: Interesting question. This is absolutely the case in the media unquestionably. I don’t have much to add that other people haven’t said eloquently already.

FHC: What’s next for Evan Roberts?

ER: I’m currently working on a documentary that is very different from my last two short films. It actually focuses on an actor that I met on the set of Yeah, Kowalksi! His name is Arvind- he was the emo goth kid putting on eye liner in the bathroom with Gabe.

Arvind, 16, is writing a play about his mentally ill mother who spent most of his life in prison for a horrible crime. When she gets released, Arvind has to face her in court after a lifetime of questions and secrecy. Meanwhile, he’s been writing a play about his life that deals with the effects of her absence. But after he and his brother secure a life long restraining order, he decides to change his play and make her the main character. I have been following him for the last year and, as with most teenagers, a lot is in flux for him. The documentary won’t be finished until May; so far it’s been an investigation into the aftermath of trauma on a family of men, and what we learn about ourselves when we fictionalize our life story.

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