Dustin Pearson likes to say that the Mission helped him become who he is today. One of the friends he hung out with lived in the house where, in 2009, the Benjamin Bratt production La Mission was filmed. The movie, directed by Peter Bratt and starring his brother Benjamin, was their love letter to the Mission — where the Bratt brothers also grew up.
That film left a mark on Pearson. And, at age 29, he is now debuting his first short film, right here in his old neighborhood. The movie, Static, was selected by the 16th annual Another Hole in the Head Short Film Festival, and will be shown at the New People Cinema in Japantown on Saturday. .
Pearson, who now lives in Ingleside, said it’s been a lifelong dream of his to show a film on the big screen in his hometown.
“Oh man, it’s just complete joy. It was like, my city and my home could finally see the blood sweat and tears I put into my project,” Pearson said.
Static is an eight-minute short film Pearson stars in as well as directs. It involves a magical radio that allows Pearson’s character to revisit the past and chase long-dead dreams.
Pearson’s short film premiered in 2018 at the Kapow Intergalactic Film Festival in Los Angeles, but this is the first time it’ll be shown in the city. He developed the idea in the years after graduating from Loyola Marymount University and entering the workforce, finding himself depressed in his monotonous life.
Pearson was working in an office for 60 hours a week at Enterprise Car Rentals when he wrote the script and came up with the premise. He had a small budget: He took out $4,000 from his savings and had to get creative with the project, filming it guerrilla style across alleys and even got his family involved.
At one point, while filming a scene where the main character is assaulted, a bystander was unaware it was a film shoot, and called the police. When the police arrived, they mistook audio equipment for a firearm and drew their own weapons on Pearson and his crew. When the crew explained they were just filming a movie, one of the officers let out a sigh of relief — the officer was just as scared as the budding film crew was.
Pearson, whose mother is Salvadoran, also had to ask his abuelita to stand in for him at times while he adjusted his audio, focus and exposure on the camera he used. Other times he used his dad or mom to get audio or sound bites. Only 15 people ended up being involved in the project, he said, most of them were friends, family or roommates of his. Karl Force created an original score for it, and Dave Nelson mixed the audio.
Pearson said most of his budget went towards the sound and post-production. He spent a total of $2,000 to pay for the sound mixing, original music from Outpost Studios and another $2,000 to outsource the production and editing of the film to an old roommate working for Yeluguri Entertainment, a production company in India.
It was an unconventional move, but one he says that saved him at least $20,000.
“I don’t know if other guys are doing but it was a very smart approach for me,” Pearson admitted.
Last year, he starred in Naomi Garcia Pasmanick’s first short film, Encuentros (Encounters) which debuted at the SF Latino Film Festival, where he played a man named Mario. He’s working on another film, this time a longer project that he hopes can be turned into a feature film.
“It’s a scary venture when you start this,” Pearson said. “You don’t know where the road will take you.”
Static will run with 142 other short films in Another Hole in the Head’s Short Film Festival on Dec. 7 at 1 p.m. at the New People Cinema located at 1746 Post St. in Japantown. It’s part of a bigger film festival beginning on Dec. 1.
Tickets are available on this website.