Director Evan Roberts's short film "33 Teeth" (trailer below) focuses on Eddie, a 14-year-old who creeps on his neighbor Chad while he's in the bathroom measuring himself with a comb. It picked up the award for Best LGBT short at the New York City Short Film Festival late last year, and in January screened at the Slamdance Film Festival (also known as the Sundance for movies with budgets less than $1 million, which happens at the same time, same place as its fancier, more famous counterpart).
Evan and I talked recently about moviemaking, teen angst, and size obsession.
Are these characters based on real-life people?
Evan: Not at all, but it is based on a story from my teenage years. A group of friends were throwing around a basketball one night, and the subject of measuring came up. We were divided on the topic - some had measured, some hadn't measured, some didn't see a need. Off to the side, I heard one reply, meekly, "Well, I measured with a comb once." It really puzzled me. There's not a standard comb size or anything, so it left a lot to the imagination. I wasn't out to myself or my friends at that time, but I began having daydreams of looking for this comb at this friend's house. I never did find it. But the story just grew out of that and the idea of how certain objects can be infused with misplaced eroticism.
What's the hardest part about making a film?
The hardest parts of making "33 Teeth" were also the most thrilling - the moment where it seemed like we were going to lose our location the day of shooting, or when we were rushing to beat the clock to make use of the available light but we misplaced a lens adaptor. Did I say thrilling? I mean horrifying.
What are you working on right now?
I circled around a few ideas before landing back in the world of teenage sexuality and pubertal angst. My next film focuses on a late bloomer at a pool party, and it's about that period in your life when you desperately want to be more mature than you are. I think at this stage of the game, I'm focused on making the kinds of films that I would have wanted to see when I was young and falling in love with cinema at the age of 13. I'm really affected by the suicides of young gay teens like Billy Lucas and Tyler Clementi. I feel like I'm partly making these short films where the gay hero "wins" in the end in an effort to create some aspirational characters for them and for the kid I was.
Without giving away what the title is a reference to, have any strangers come up to you since the movie's been out and asked, "How many teeth?"
Not yet, but...I'm open to it.
Read the full interview at Austin Chronicle.
33 Teeth Trailer from Evan Roberts on Vimeo.