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SAC alumna blazing trail into Indie film festivals

Visionary, talented, and driven. These are but a few of the words that accurately describe San Antonio College alumna, Misti Fields. Fields and myself attended SAC film school at the same time (2006- ’07) and even collaborated on a couple of projects together. While I went off into the field of journalism, she continued on at the University of North Texas to complete her bachelor’s degree in Radio, Television, and Film. From there, she formed her own production company, VioletSnarl Productions, LLC with colleague, Matt Stocks (Director of Photography-'Cinematography', Electrician).

Two independent shorts produced by Misti Fields have been nominated for no less than six awards at the Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase premiering July 19th and 20th.
VioletSnarl Productions, LLC/Courtesy of Misti Fields

Her efforts have now landed her in the unique position of having two film shorts of entirely different genres currently entered into the first annual Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase premiering July 19th -20th. The first, ‘Matryoshka’, a drama, was produced under VioletSnarl Productions (Fields fulfilled both the role of producer – one of -, and Assistant Director), and written, produced, and directed by Carlos Esquivel. It has already been nominated for five awards; Best Short Overall, Best Drama, Best Domestic, Best Female Lead (April Dawn Hartman), and Best Supporting Female (Presley Money). Her second independent short, ‘Human Wreckage’ in which she was again one of the producers, falls into the category of horror. HW was produced by TYO Productions, written by Dustin LaValley, directed by Tom Young, and is nominated for Best Horror.

Six award nominations in one film festival is pretty darn good!

A little about ‘Matryoshka’ from writer/director Carlos Esquivel. “I wanted to write a story about motherhood.” Esquivel explains that the spark of the idea came from watching another short piece by a classmate in one his non-fiction classes. Although not based on that story in any way, a Matryoshka doll was featured (one of those Russian dolls that contains smaller replicas of itself inside). He wanted to elaborate on the concept and imagery of grandmother, mother, and child. “When the character of Haley drops and breaks the dolls, it becomes a symbol of the fragmentation of that relationship.”

The characters of Katherine, Michelle, and Haley are loosely based on his own mother, grandmother, and sister. But it wasn’t until his aunt passed away followed five months later by his beloved grandmother that the script became personal.

The result is a 13 minute moving piece about the love, support, and strength of women within one family as they deal with loss in its various forms; death, divorce, and abandonment.

For Fields, this project found its way to her attention after she graduated film school in the summer of 2010. “Carlos brought me a script and said, hey, you know, read it. This was after Carlos and I worked on this really, really bad Western short – that is the project of which we do not speak (their Voldemort).” Knowing Carlos’ humor well, she was pleasantly surprised to discover the script was comprised entirely of women. “It was a good script, and that’s where a good project always starts. I had the opportunity to take it apart if I wanted to, but it didn’t need that. It was just really good, and I said ‘I’m on board!’.”

Auditions were held and they found stage actress Nancy Sherrard to play the role of grandmother Katherine, April Hartman (nominated for Best Female Lead) for the role of Michelle – mother of Haley and daughter of Katherine, and Presley Money (nominated for Best Supporting Female) as Haley – granddaughter.

Fields worked again with actress April Hartman in ‘Human Wreckage’. “April is a powerhouse actress. She blew us away. We didn’t even have to think about that casting decision. It had been two years since finishing filming ‘Matryoshka’ that I last worked with her. She brought it. ”

‘Human Wreckage’ is a darkly comedic window into a brief moment of the zombie apocalypse. It opens on a steamy sex scene that quickly devolves into a display of the worst side of human nature; that of the survivor. When the scenario becomes “it’s either you or me, and I pick me!”, the ugliest form of humanity rears its head. Writer Dustin LaValley, and director Tom Young, give the audience a brilliant peek into end-times insanity.

“My role as producer on HW involved a lot of coordination and planning; hiring the crew, getting the gear, and making sure we were within our budget for the project. In a sense, providing the tools necessary to make the creative part happen. I got my two cents in with the creative as well, but I see my role as producer is to support the creative vision of the director first and foremost”, says Fields.

Fields met Young when he was cast in a UNT class project, 'Patriarchy’, as a lead actor back in 2010. Networking being what it is, they stayed in touch, and supported each other’s projects with his acting and her producing. Once she read the script for ‘Human Wreckage’, her immediate response was “Yes, I’d love to help produce this!” Fields points out that the script is “intelligent, it makes you think. It doesn’t glorify or showcase the gore, which is what most do. This is a character piece more so than anything. Our effects team did do an amazing job, though, I must add.” Kudos to LaValley for the wit and depth of the dialogue.

This is actually the second time Misti Fields has experienced having two of her short films entered into the same festival. The first was at the Glenrose Neo-Relix Festival in 2011 where both ‘Wretched Spectacle’ and ‘Patriarchy’ were shown. She adds that “just getting a film into a festival is tough. Some have thousands of entries every year. So it’s an absolute honor to have two films screened (in the same showcase). Having two films nominated for awards is icing on the cake! Now, maybe if we win, it’ll be the cherry on top!”

Note: Co-Director for Human Wreckage - Libby Mitchell