The Slamdance Film Festival premiere of Order of the Orchid in Park City, Utah, marked a high watermark of sorts for Alex Italics (MFA/FP ’18). Programmed in the Anarchy Short films category as one of only 10 screened, the seven-minute, sci-fi fantasy, features an elderly woman confronted by a mysterious man who brings her to another dimension. “Orchid was an idea I had in my head and more something I wanted to try, more of an actual experiment,” says Italics. “I didn’t expect anything to happen with it. I had no idea, that movie, of all the things I have done, would be the one to get in.”

Order of the Orchid music video still

Though it is every filmmaker’s dream to be successful in a film festival, especially one as prestigious as Slamdance, Italics struggled to find his niche. “I have a collection of something like 10 years of rejection letters, from making stuff trying to get it into Slamdance and failing.” But Italics believes that Order of the Orchid was successful because he quit trying to guess what others would want to see and made a film he wanted to see.

“One can try and try, and not succeed. But the moment they just surrender to making things for the sake of making them… there might be something to that. That is the lesson I take away. If you are making things with your own creative compass in mind, then you are destined for success. As long as you aim your ship in that direction, it is a much more satisfying outcome.”

Italics sees himself as a short film artist, striving to create work that leaves his audience speechless, making films that captivate and astound. Yet he finds the world of short films frustrating.

“I really like short form narrative filmmaking. I think a lot of people view it as just an academic exercise, I tend to disagree.” The existing landscape for short films is much different from that of features and as Italics says, “given the exclusivity of the festivals (which require that films not be previously released, even on the internet), people are so reluctant to share a film online.” Like many, Italics struggles with having to choose between wanting to showcase his work and keeping it under wraps during the many months of submitting a film to festivals and waiting for their response.

The immediacy of an online release is one reason Italics has chosen to work in the world of music videos. In early January 2018, a music video Italics directed for the band They Might be Giants, had over 140K views at the time of this article and an article on The video stared actor Nick Offerman lifelessly lip-syncing along to the words of the song.

“It’s so much more satisfying to do something like this Nick Offerman video,” he says, “where a month later everyone in the world can see it.”

While this video has certainly given Italics a platform from which to launch, he is open to a number of directions his career might take. “I would like to make teaching a part of my career at some point in the future.”

This article originally appeared in the 2018 spring issue of In Production Magazine. Find the full issue and past issues here.