A short film shot in Federal Way by a recent Kentridge graduate and up-and-coming filmmaker will start playing on Alaska Airlines flights this month.
Titled “The Fix,” it’s the story of a single working mother who asks for the help of her distant father for a last-minute babysitting request. The short film is an exploration of family dynamics and especially the relationships between parents and children in multigenerational families, director Emilio Torres said.
The story is set in Torres’ parent’s neighborhood of Belmor Park, the 55-and-over manufactured home community south of the Commons Mall.
Belmor Park “is an older community … and knowing Federal Way is a diverse community, I did feel there was something about this story (being in Federal Way) that made a lot of sense, because it is a (story) about multi-generational relationships,” Torres said.
The city itself isn’t hugely relevant to the film, but it is significant. You can hear the highway next to the mall, or see the way the rain reflects on concrete, Torres said.
“The story is based my personal family, and my personal relationship with my own grandfather, and I think it sort of recontextualizes that with Latino family dynamics in general,” Torres said. “So I feel like it probably could be placed anywhere. But I like to make movies where I have reference, and where it makes sense for me.”
His other Federal Way project — a music video for the ‘80s throwback song “Santa Carla” by Belmez Faces — is just a bit different tonally: It features a dancing vampire who haunts the parking lot of the Commons mall.
Torres grew up in Ketchikan, Alaska, where his love of filmmaking first grew as he watched movies with his families and got involved in theatre. He got his first camera around 10 and decided he’d be a director.
He moved to Kent in 2014 and attended Kentridge High School, where he took theatre and video production classes that helped develop his skills. After graduating in 2018, he went to his dream school New York University, and his parents downsized and moved from Kent to Belmor Park.
After graduating in 2021, he visited his hometown in Alaska to film a science fiction short called “The Ladder.” He most recently came back to his parents’ neighborhood in Belmor Park, where he and his crew filmed “The Fix.”
Torres shot the film mostly indoors and over the course of a weekend. Despite being “very low key” compared to “The Ladder,” it went on to screen at 26 film festivals and pick up several awards, Torres said. Both films will be streaming on Alaska flights.
It shows that in the creative world, you can never expect what project will bring the most success, Torres said.
His previous projects in Federal Way and King County, for instance, helped him meet artists and actors and build the confidence to put together this one. His thesis film, shot in Washington, won prize money from an NYU contest that financed “The Fix.”
The people he worked with in Federal Way were excited about supporting the arts, Torres said: “I feel inspired there, and I felt supported by my neighbors and my fellow community members there.”
In that way, his projects are all connected, and the success of one is linked to the success of the others, he said.
“In a creative field, you’re just planting seeds out into the world, and you don’t know which ones are actually going to grow into a tree” he said. “But somehow, it’s all connected. … All these projects would not have been possible without relationships or people.”
It’s along those lines that he offers advice for any young filmmakers looking to perfect their craft. The Seattle area has a thriving filmmaker community, and organizations like the National Film Festival for Talented Youth, the Northwest Film Forum and the Seattle International Film Festival are great places to break into it, he said. Established filmmaking groups online can help novices improve, too.
“The Fix” and other films he shot in Washington wouldn’t have been possible without collaboration from other local artists, Torres said — so get to know your local art scene and find people who inspire and challenge you to improve.
“What’s great is that you don’t have to go to film school to be a filmmaker,” Torres said. “You can learn everything you need to do to make a short film on YouTube. However …. if you really want to grow and break into industry and level up your quality, there’s only so much you can do on your own. Making relationships and meeting other people who can help you make your products come to fruition, that’s what really steps up your game.”