Hadia Moosvi, Contributing Writer
Four years ago, VCU alumnus Arlen Kerndt didn’t expect his name to be on a big screen. Now, Kerndt’s short film is premiering soon at the Richmond International Film Festival.
“It’s so affirming to get that kind of affirmation from a festival that runs in the city that gave this film the life that it has,” Kerndt said. “Playing it on a big screen is a completely different ballgame.”
“Another Shot” follows the story of a transgender man named Logan, played by transgender actor Samson Presley, and his ex-girlfriend Mara. The film shows the beginnings of Logan’s gender transition as he slowly loses Mara during the process. They both reunite years later to see if their relationship can be rekindled under new circumstances.
“It’s a film that I wanted to make to just humanize trans people and the way that trans people live and connect in the world,” Kerndt said.
Kerndt said the film falls under the romantic-comedy genre, and he involved comedic elements to show a lighthearted side of the transgender experience that he didn’t find in many other films and stories.
“Humor isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of LGBTQ stories because they’re very fraught with trauma and complications,” Kerndt said. “Seeing this and talking to some other people I was like, ‘I want to write something funny. I want to find humor and the experience of trans existence in a way that hopefully helps people have a laugh.’”
Kaitlyn Lunardi, who plays the role of Mara in the film, said the comedic relief in the film allowed for moments of joy and humanity.
“Instead of just being this really arduous process of figuring out identity and figuring out everything to do with transitioning, there was actually room to laugh, to breathe, to feel like you’re still alive,” Lunardi said.
Kerndt said he began to write the film during the summer of 2018. It took two years to complete the entire film.
Though the process took time, Kerndt said his experiences in the VCU Advanced Media Production Technology Program allowed him to execute his ideas, workshop the script and cultivate a team to help produce the film.
Julian Pozzi, VCU professor of screenwriting and cinema production, said Kerndt was a student in his spring semester screenwriting course. He helped Kerndt throughout the filming and scripting process before he became executive producer of the film.
Around midterm season of the screenwriting course, Pozzi said he allows his students to choose one script in the screenwriting class to eventually produce together.
“I ended up being lucky enough to get my story chosen, and it was really affirming to have such a tight-knit community and to just ultimately feel fully supported about this story,” Kerndt said.
Kerndt said while this is his first student film and his first contribution to transgender media, something he hopes to continue to add to in the future. He also hopes to use his influence as a director to spark conversations about transgender stories.
“There’s such low representation in media of trans actors,” Kerndt said. “You have to be willing to do that work to find the trans actors and nonbinary actors who are gonna play the role and give the performance that you want.”
During the filming process, Kerndt said he and his team were backed by many Richmond companies that offered their space for filming, including Tang & Biscuit, which was used for the film’s cafe scene and Thirsty’s Bar & Grill, which Kerndt noted as a LGBTQ+ community bar.
“So many levels of this film were supported by the Richmond community,” Kerndt said. “I can’t look at this film and just not think about the two years that I spent in Richmond.”
The film is being shown at the Byrd Theatre on Sept. 8 at 9:05 p.m. Tickets for the film can be found on the Richmond International Film Festival website.