Tell us about yourself. What inspired you?
My name is Gerrison Machado, I’m a 15 year old writer, director, and actor.
I guess I’ve always loved telling stories. I would make comic books in my free time when I was younger, and pretty much created my own superhero universe. I eventually got really big into horror movies when I was 11-12, and actually wrote a feature-length slasher script. It was terrible of course, but the vision and passion was there! I then branched out from the horror genre, and the more films I watched, the more inspired I became. At 14, I made my directorial debut with a short called “Connection”, a film that I also wrote.
Talk about your last work. What are some of the challenges you faced?
Well I just wrapped production on my second short film as a director! The script for this
project wasn’t actually mine, and the runtime is a lot longer, so the whole experience was a big step-up from my last one. The film is a character-driven, mafia-related story called “Guns & Ashes”, and it follows Johnny Delucci, a young man who recently lost his father, and who is now in charge of his “family business”. It starts off almost as a character study, but the plot comes about as the film progresses. I also play a key character in it.
I think the most challenging aspect of directing this one was really nailing each character. My last film, Connection, was conceptually-driven, whereas Guns & Ashes focuses more on its characters, especially Johnny, and it has much more depth which was new for me as a director. Managing all of that while also focusing on my own performance was definitely pretty tricky.
I also overcame some insecurities during this production. By the end of it, I wasn’t afraid of being assertive or confident in my abilities. It’s hard to be taken seriously at 15 years old, but I’ve learned to trust myself and my vision.
What makes you want to tell stories?
It’s hard to describe the force that drives me to want to tell stories. I feel like there are many reasons, though the main one would probably be the opportunity to provoke thought in others. That’s it. If I can change someone’s opinion about something, or cause someone to rethink their choices, or make someone sad or happy or shocked – whatever! I just want people to feel these stories. I also hope to bring originality to each story as I grow; having films with relatable themes, but telling them in my own distinct way.
What is your vision or method of approaching a new project?
Preparation is key for me. I like to communicate with actors beforehand to understand their methods in order to direct them more efficiently, and I’ve learned (the hard way) to have a backup plan for each scene.
I am also a fan of ambiguity. I don’t like to make things super obvious for the audience. Subtlety is my thing.
Who are your filmmaker influencers? What films were influential for you?
I have many, but if I had to pick one, I'd go with Martin Scorsese. His versatility is inspiring, I only dream of having such a diverse filmography. “Raging Bull”, as well as “The Fighter”, both inspired the story for Connection actually. That being said, I want to (in the future) showcase the influences that different anime have had on me. Some of the screenplays that I am currently writing are heavily influenced/inspired by movies like “Spirited Away” and shows like “Parasyte.” I have many influencers, and I hope that in making more movies, I can shed light on the master filmmakers that motivated me.
How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking?
I’m still fairly new to the film/TV industry. Before directing, I initially joined the industry as an actor during times of COVID. I mean, it's clear to see that the industry was hugely affected, but I never personally experienced what it was like before, so I couldn’t say. I do believe that the pandemic served as a wake-up call for many people to be more responsible and to tell their stories (in the safest way) while they can. We are not invincible people!
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Trust yourself. In any form of art you must listen to your intuition.
I used to think that if I couldn’t explain to others why I was attracted to a creative decision, I shouldn’t follow through with it. But with the little experience I have I’ve learned to trust that if I’m a true artist, there will naturally be artistic reasoning behind every creative choice I make. You have to trust the fact that you’re drawn to that idea in the first place.
Another piece of advice would be to open your ears. If you are young like me, there are people you might work with who have way more experience than you so listen to those of superior knowledge, don’t take advice for disrespect, and you should also never tolerate those who doubt or don’t appreciate you.
Do you think films/stories can bring about change in the world?
Absolutely. Art in general is mind-blowingly powerful. Putting your wisdom, love, faith, and everything else into a piece of writing can 100% bring about change, no matter the scale. There’s freedom like no other in storytelling, and that is what I believe makes it powerful.
What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people’s taste?
I’m not sure. I feel like there’s a lot of people who don’t like to think too deeply when watching stuff. So many people just want entertainment. All I know is that there were some incredible releases during the pandemic. I mean, “Nobody” should’ve won every award ever! It was awesome haha!
Please tell us about your upcoming projects.
Well last summer, I starred in a beautiful coming-of-age movie called “1-800-HOT-NITE”, which follows Tommy, a young boy who loses his dad in a drug raid, and who escapes custody with his two best friends, Steve and O’Neill. Tommy turns to a phone sex operator for help as he embarks on this urban odyssey for his final night together with his friends. I play O’Neill in this hilarious, heartfelt, gut-wrenching story that I hope to share more about whenever I can!
As I mentioned before, I recently wrapped my second short film as a director, while also acting in the film as well. “Guns & Ashes” is currently in post-production. You can find it on IMDb or on Instagram @gunsandashesmovie to see where it takes us!
Connection has finished its festival run, and will soon be available to the public!!