Award-winning films are made in California all the time but it's not often that one is made right here in Bakersfield, with a completely local cast and crew.
Local production company Logic Films has submitted its first short film "Hear Me" into about 60 festivals and has already won several awards. Later this month, the 24-minute film will premiere at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards, and by the end of the year, Bakersfield audiences will be able to see it, too.
"It's very validating, for all the hard work we've put into it for the last year and a half, that the process works," said Kevin Turner, the film's director and writer. "It's also exciting to see what the future holds."
"Hear Me" tells the story of Kennedy (Eden Helston), a teenager who is struggling with selective mutism. She has the chance to receive a scholarship to her dream college but has to do an oral interview to get it. Enlisting the help of theater teacher Megan (Tara Haner), Kennedy works through her past trauma to find her voice.
"It's a story of perseverance," Turner said.
Awards for "Hear Me" include Best Actress for Helston and Best First Time Director for Turner from Independent Shorts Awards, Best Short Film Drama from LAIFFA, Best Drama Short and Best First Time Director from Indie Short Fest and Best Drama Short at Olympus Film Festival. "Hear Me" also received the Award of Merit from Best Shorts Competition.
Turner said it means a lot that a Bakersfield film is getting this kind of recognition because the town is often looked down on by bigger cities, but now work made here, by an entirely local cast and crew, is being celebrated in Los Angeles.
"Hear Me" is the second project and first short for Logic Films, which Turner founded with Kyle Tiner back in 2017. Its first project was a web series called "Honestly Ever After." After that wrapped, the team started developing "Hear Me" in early 2018, going through what Turner called a "pretty intense process" of writing, evaluating and rewriting.
"We really took a specific process in writing and developing to tell the story in the right way," Turner said. "We really stuck to our guns on this and it's paying off."
By June 2018, the film was cast, and Logic Films shot "Hear Me" over 16 days from July to December. The cast and crew was made up of about 30-plus people, Turner said, all volunteering their time.
"It was surprisingly smooth," Turner said of the filmmaking process for the short. "We had a lot of talent around us. ... We're very thankful for all the time and effort they put in."
"Hear Me" was officially finished in May, just in time to start submitting to festivals.
The Logic team initially submitted to about 15 festivals but ended up sending the film to about 60. It's still early in the season, Turner said, so they have only heard back from about 10 of them so far and will hear about the others later.
In sending "Hear Me" to various festivals, the filmmakers aren't just looking for awards, but also for a place to premiere the film. Turner explained that festivals don't usually screen every film for attendees, and those that are screened are usually the films' debut.
"Hear Me" hasn't yet been seen by an audience, but it will during LAIFFA, at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood on Aug. 24. Though the premiere isn't open to the public, Turner said a local premiere will be in the works for later this year.
Though they are still in the middle of festival season and promoting "Hear Me," Turner and Tiner are already thinking about their second short film. Though Turner didn't share any details of what the next story would be, he did say it would also be a drama, though a lighter one than "Hear Me."
"We're boosting the quality and looking to improve," he said. "There's a night and day difference between 'Honestly Ever After' and 'Hear Me,' and I hope there's a night and day difference between 'Hear Me' and the next one."
With several festival wins under its belt, the Logic Films team can set out on the next project with even more confidence.
"Our films still have room to grow," Turner said. "If we're able to do this on our first project, I'm excited to see what else we can do."