In less than nine minutes, “Love You Tyler” strikes a deep chord with viewers. The film opens as roommates Luke and Tyler discuss Luke’s new girlfriend. An unexpected shift in the conversation prompts the necessity to address aspects of their delicate friendship. The short film, which has screened at a wide range of film festivals and has a home on Omeleto, came to life with the help of a strong cast and crew of UNCSA Drama alumni.
Writer, co-director and producer Devon Diffenderfer (B.F.A. Drama ’13) stars as Luke in the film. He took a break from producer duties to share with us lessons learned from “Love You Tyler” and what students should be focusing on when preparing for their career after UNCSA.
I first wrote the story because I had a need to act, to be honest. I wasn’t getting any opportunities and thought to myself, “why wait for an audition or for your friends to give you an opportunity?” I could write a role for myself, and create a short that would make people laugh. So, in two nights of writing “Love You Tyler” was born.
It delves into queer identity a bit, as well as how love can be complicated – which I’ve had some experiences with. I think it’s important to question romantic norms and sexual identity sometimes, in this case with awkward comedy, filled with a few surprises and twists.
“Love You Tyler” is my first short film. The budget was pretty non-existent, and everyone was donating their time, so we had to work quickly. We shot the movie in one day, and post-production happened a month later and lasted for one week. We worked quick and hard. When the film was ready for festival submission, I almost went broke going through my savings because submission feels can add up pretty quickly, and I submitted to almost 50 festivals.
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#tbt to the premiere of LOVE YOU TYLER. The night went better then I could’ve ever hoped! Thank you to all who were able to come and support the film and especially to @ariitkin, @babybefore @butterdeluxe2077, @gidpics and @allistairj for making the movie possible. Look forward to taking it to more festivals to come ;) . . #film #premiere #filmmaker #short #festival #cute #happy #nyc #actor #producer #writer #love #friends #movies #success
A post shared by Devon Diffenderfer (@diffyderf) on
Editor’s note: “Love You Tyler” has screened at Oscar-qualifying festivals Bogoshorts, Cartagena Film Festival, Florida Film Festival LA Shorts, RiverRun International Film Festival; and at NYC Shorts International Film Festival, Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and Twister Alley Film Festival.
I had a friend tell me, “save your money for your next project and only submit to a few festivals,” which isn’t terrible advice. But for me, if you believe in a project enough, there’s nothing wrong with putting your money where your mouth is. The festival circuit can be a numbers game – some might say no or yes – you never really know. But it’s the one that do say yes that make it all worth it. And you never know where that one “yes” will lead, so I say submit away.
The festival circuit can be a numbers game – some might say no or yes – you never really know. But it’s the one that do say yes that make it all worth it. And you never know where that one “yes” will lead, so I say submit away.Devon Diffenderfer
I was lucky enough to stay connected and surround myself with talented people from school that, at the time, were all in New York City with me. I sent the script around to everyone and thankfully they all said yes and helped me make it for free, which I don’t think will ever happen again, haha. But for a first-time low budget film with friends it was a labor of love that everyone gave to this project. I am forever grateful.
"Love You Tyler" UNCSA Drama alumni cast & crew
We live in a world now that is so saturated with content and people trying to be seen online and in shows. If you’re an actor, it’s almost assumed now that you are also a writer, director or producer. It’s not just something that will help to fulfill you in this often unfair rat race of an industry – it’s a need.
The universe rewards those who find the courage and drive to get up every day and take steps to create and be active for themselves and for the world.Devon Diffenderfer
You need to create the opportunity for yourself because sitting by the phone and waiting for an audition isn’t going to get you far, and agents and managers can only do so much. The universe rewards those who find the courage and drive to get up every day and take steps to create and be active for themselves and for the world.
Breathe! We all forget to do that sometimes, I think. Relax and have patience with yourself and others. Treat yourself with kindness and take care of yourself. Remember, this business is a marathon and not a sprint to the finish. Create, create, CREATE your own work that’s meaningful and unique to you, regardless of what others may think.
I’m also going to push for people to do more short films because a) depending on what it is, you can make it for relatively cheap and b) if done well, they can be a calling card that will last you for a long time.
Lastly, and most importantly, enjoy the time you have at UNCSA. Regardless of where you end up in life, the experiences and people you meet at this special school can last a lifetime. Don’t be afraid to laugh and love and really listen to one another.
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November 10, 2020