SxSW 2021 Interview – RUN THAT SHIT! Director Tristan Kim

A Satanic cult lures a no-name rapper into stealing an enchanted chamber pot from his estranged friend and now superstar rapper, Big Tobacco. RUN THAT SHIT! Is having its Texas Premiere in the Midnight Shorts section, and we spoke to director Tristan Kim about the short. 

Is this your first SxSW experience?

This is my first time at SxSW and I am absolutely stoked!

How did you first hear about SxSW and wishing to send your project into the festival?

It’s SxSW, everyone knows about SxSW, at least cool people. When I heard RUN THAT SHIT got into this year’s festival, I was jumping up and down and screaming. I couldn’t believe it. Out of all the festivals I submitted to, SxSW was at the top of the list. 

Tell me about the idea behind RUN THAT SHIT!

Although this movie is about poop, demons, and rappers, it’s actually a very personal story. It deals with self doubt and jealousy as an artist, as well as feeling limited or trapped by staying in your own home town. It shows the extent someone will go to “make it”. Also, I think poop and farts are funny because I am a stupid, dumb baby. In all seriousness though, I was largely inspired by the antics of Atlanta’s own, Gucci Mane. In 2005, Gucci had a $10,000 bounty placed on his bust down chain by rival rapper, Jeezy. Four men set up Gucci at a stripper’s home and attempted to rob him, but Gucci survived, killing one of the assailants. My fellow writer, Will Allyn Robinson, and I thought, “Now this is an insane story, but what if the item of value wasn’t an icy chain, but something that is the definition of undesirable?” and RUN THAT SHIT! was born. 

Who are some of your creative inspirations?

Harmony Korine’s SPRING BREAKERS, and really all of his films. David Lynch is a huge inspiration as well, especially with BLUE VELVET. The Safdie Brothers are legends. There’s just so many wonderful filmmakers out there right now I love you all. 

How did you put this together from a technical viewpoint?

From the get-go I knew I’d be shooting on a RED Gemini. It’s just such a weird, alien color space when you compare it to the likes of the Alexa. I wanted the world to be gritty, neon, and very high-contrast. Realistic motivation of lighting was the least of my priorities. I wanted the film to feel like a fever dream. Initially the entirety of the project was to be shot at 120 frames per second and played back in real time. The thought process was to create a really unsettling and unfamiliar image for the viewer, but of course the costs associated with shooting such a high frame rate were too much. In regards to lens choice we went with Sigma Cine glass. They are stupid sharp and cheap, cheap, cheap. In order to fund the film I had to sell all of my gear, and even the Volvo 240 that serves as the main picture car in order to pay for post production costs. I went all in, and I’m really glad I did. I am never really satisfied with anything I make, there’s always a million things I want to go back and change, and this project is NO exception to that. There’s so much that I wish I could have done. Oh well, on to the next one!

Being all virtual this year, what do you hope to get out of the virtual SxSW experience?

I hope to get the opportunity to direct more and more projects, especially some crazy commercials. If I could just direct fun and engaging commercials for the rest of my life I would be more than content. Getting some representation would be a dream too. 

What would you suggest to film festivals as a way to show more short films or make them more accessible to audiences across the country?

Possibly a collaboration with legacy online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime? As long as the viewer’s television doesn’t have that awful motion smoothing on it.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone to get their start as a creator or filmmaker in the industry, what would you suggest?

Be unapologetically yourself, ignore the bullies, and don’t let a tripod touch the ground unless you are head over heels in love with the idea you are bringing to life. There’s always going to be people that you feel are more ahead of you, or receive more praise (especially in film school) but just stick to your guns. You can’t just want to make something, you must NEED to make something. Also, just be nice. There are so many assholes out here just be a good person and be passionate about your ideas and good things will come…at least I think so.  

Good answer! And finally, what is your favourite short film of all time?

“El más fuerte” by Damián Szifron!

This film and many others like it will be showing at the virtual South By Southwest taking place March 16-20th. For more information and to register for the festival, point your browser to!

Leave a Reply