SxSW 2022 Interview – THE FACE OFF director Jose Miguel Martinez

“Cletus Abernathy, prompted by an upcoming morning duel, far removed from his glory days, is fraught with anxiety as he attempts to sharpen his skills one last time before confronting destiny. Thinking back to his past training with Samantha Tilley, Abernathy grows increasingly confident until he is pulled out of his delusions by the rumors emerging from Ridge Wood (Tilley’s home town). Finally Abernathy is ripped away from the conversation as the infamous outlaw Crenshaw arrives in town.” Filmmaker Jose Miguel Martinez on THE FACE OFF which screens at SxSW 2022.

Welcome to SxSW and congratulations! Is this your first SxSW experience?

Yes this is my first SxSW experience as I’m competing in the Texas high school section and this is my first year back for in person classes which gives me access to equipment to film my projects on!

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

I heard about the the festival from my AV teacher Mr.Rogers who every year sends the best films in our class to compete in SxSW.

Tell me about the idea behind THE FACE OFF and getting it made!

The idea for my project was a stereotypical spaghetti western storyline where instead of an archetypal stoic protagonist the main character would instead be completely incompetent providing a comedic element. Filming for the project was especially fun as our team was able to shoot at the J. Lorraine Ghost Town just outside of Austin. With such an amazing set we really tried to make the most out of the area which I think can be seen with our shots throughout the film. Special thanks goes out to the crew over at J. Lorraine as we really couldn’t have accomplished this project without them.

Who are some of your creative inspirations? Any particular filmmaking talent or movie that inspired you for this project?

Every time I write a script I always go through a couple sets of revisions and brainstorming times with my fellow filmmakers at McCallum AV. Having the ability to bounce ideas off my friends in the program is really helpful for developing my projects. With The Face Off my group was especially helpful when it came to dialogue and were the ones who originally gave me the idea for Cletus’s character.

How did you put this together from a technical viewpoint? What sort of cameras/lenses did you use and/or did you have any creative challenges in making it?

One of the main draws of McCallum is the equipment available to students. On this project I was able to shoot on a $40,000 Red Raven rig for the A cam while I used black-magic 4Ks for B cameras. Using this set of equipment was especially exciting as it opened up opportunities for creative color decisions when it came to post production which also happened to be the main challenge of the project. Getting all the individual color grades to look consistent and also stylized through scenes was a constant difficulty taking several months to complete but in the end I think that all the hard work paid off.

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?

I think one thing that film festivals could do to get the word out about shorts is to have screenings for multiple films at one time culminating in a runtime similar to a feature film. With this format audiences would get a similar experience to what they expect while also experiencing several different films all at once.

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?

Coming from a visual perspective I would focus on learning to shape light around subjects as cinematic compositions often times can be accomplished by simply having an understanding over this concept. Furthermore I think that learning to work with your audio equipment is extremely important as no matter how good your visuals are your project lives and dies by the audio quality.

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

My favorite short film of all time comes from Ian Hubert with his “Dynamo Dream” project!

This film and many others like it will be showing at South By Southwest taking place March 11-20. For more information point your browser to

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