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The making of award winning "XIETY"

In a matter of three weeks, our short film "XIETY" was born; thus, making it our most ambitious project created to date, and for some, their first. We gave ourselves, and actually only had, three weeks to complete a short film under three minutes- that meant coming up with a concept for our short film, developing a script, creating a storyboard, gathering a crew, holding auditions, acquiring locations, shooting the film, and then all of post-production. We did it all. In. 18. Days.

Many people who have watched "XIETY" have asked, “Why XIETY?”, “Why is it title XIETY?”, “Where did the inspiration come from?”, and “Does the lead actor who plays Val suffer from anxiety in real life?” Well, I think the last question answers the question on why our film it titled "XIETY"- it’s about anxiety. What’s interesting about the creation of "XIETY" is that although it was performed by and written along with Karen Torres, it was inspired by Carlos Torres’s very own journey with generalized anxiety. It’s an internal battle he’s struggled with for years all while keeping it hidden from 98% of those who know him. A long time goal for Carlos was to develop a short film that visualizes what a panic attack is like. Along with Karen, they both were able to develop a story around that focus.

The married couple, and Director duo, took to each others skills and experiences to create a fast-paced, three-minute short that gets the viewers to feel thrown into a tornado of sensations, sounds, and visuals that can feel overwhelming and very sudden- just as a panic attack would be. Although Karen, who plays Val, does not suffer from anxiety or has experienced a panic attack, she has been there and seen Carlos’s battle with anxiety during their seven years together. Some may wonder why not use someone who actually knows what anxiety is like to be in the film, but both believed that it would be better not to trigger the actor’s anxiety. Instead, Karen and Carlos focused on Carlos’s experiences along with research on what other’s experience during a panic attack in order for them to write, and for Karen to do a character study for "XIETY". They based each scene off of sensations people feel during panic attacks and visualized those sensations in relatable scenarios. Some that can be seen are drowning to represent the feeling of loss of breath, or spitting out water to represent the feeling of choking. The world of "XIETY" was used to represent all the feelings of torture that people who suffer from anxiety have internally that is not seen on the outside.

In order to achieve this flow from the outside world and into her mind, along with seamless transitions from one scene to the next, match-cuts were incorporated, which DP Jake Slonecker was marvelously able to accomplish. "XIETY" was 100% shot by him, and it was definitely no easy task. There were many rugged terrains and environments he had to move around in (and even run in), all while being in sequence with Karen to get the right shot. Both were able to read off each other’s movements in order to make the film look more natural than staged.

A mentor once said to us, “Its one thing to film things randomly and make something cool by chance, but it takes true talent to put down your film on paper prior to production.” We took this approach with "XIETY". We stuck 100% with our storyboard created by Adrian Montemayor. All our cuts, match cuts, transitions, use of sound design, and angles were all planned. It was great for us to put this method to use on a much smaller scale.

Of course, none of this could have been done without our team. The beautiful part of "XIETY" was that everyone donated their time to help make the short film possible. In their own ways, the crew has experienced anxiety through their own experiences or others and saw the importance the film potentially becoming an educational tool to inform others of the internal struggles of anxiety. Although this was a short term project, we developed the characters with light back stories. Even though the backstories for the characters are not shown in the short, we wanted to be able to grow "XIETY" into a feature film in the future using the same talent we casted. We hope "XIETY" provides a tool for those who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks to explain what they feel inside when words don’t do justice.

The short was shot on the RED HELIUM 8K and DJI INSPIRE 2 Zenmuse x7.


The team is truly honored to receive the following awards from Top Shorts & Festigious


Best Inspirational Film

Best Editing: Carlos Torres & Karen Torres

Best Cinematography: Jake Slonecker

Honorable Mention: Actress: Karen Torres


Best Actress in Indie Film: Karen Torres

Inspiring Woman In Film: Karen Torres

Best Editing: Carlos Torres & Karen Torres

Best Cinematography: Jake Slonecker

Honorable Mention: Director: Carlos Torres & Karen Torres

Carlos Torres Director, Writer, Editor, Sound Designer, and Colorist Karen Torres Lead Actress, Director, Writer, Editor, & Sound Designer Jake Slonecker Director of Photography

Line Producer and BTS videographer Adrian Montemayor Storyboard Artist and PA Clarissa Camille Script Supervisor and PA Daisy Acosta-Campos Location Scout and PA Emerald Tanaka Sound Mixer Matthew Pak BTS Photographer and PA

Production Company: CutFocus

CutFocus, owned by Carlos Torres and Jake Slonecker, is an Emmy winning production company that helped produce the film. The Operations Manager, Ceci French, also contributed to the film by taking on the role of behind the scenes videographer and photographer. What really helped the production move quickly was the help of Adrian Montemayor (Storyboard Artist), Clarissa Camille (Script Supervisor), and Daisy Acosta-Campos (Location Scout/ PA). Lastly, we brought on Emerald Tanaka (Sound Mixer), and Matthew Pak (BTS photographer/PA).

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