Story by Ashley Lopez
The morning after his first short film was screened at the Austin Film Festival, a showcase for both famous and indie filmmakers, Shane Ware is alert and eager to speak about his recent successes. One of the youngest short-filmmakers presented at the film fest this year, the recent University of Texas at Austin radio-television-film graduate says he is honored to be part of a group of such talented people.
Ware’s short, titled “The Polterman,” is a comedic horror film that he wrote and filmed his last year as an RTF student. After 12 drafts of the script, long nights editing and plenty of coffee, Ware says “The Polterman” became the film that was screened to the public on Saturday, Oct. 25. “I had a good feeling about it because I was getting a lot of good feedback,” Ware says. “I was more surprised when I found out that other films that I thought were better than mine didn’t get in. I don’t know – maybe that’s just me being modest.”
A deviation from his normal tendency to write Sci-Fi scripts, Ware says that the plot for “The Polterman” evolved from an idea he had for just one scene. He explains that’s what usually happens – he has an idea of a scene he likes, and the rest of the film develops from there. “I am not a horror movie person at all,” Ware says. “I had been watching a lot of horror movies and have done Sci-Fi in the past, so I just decided to do something radically different. It started out as more serious and then got more light-hearted as it went along.”
When he first sits down in the patio of Starbucks on 24th Street and San Antonio Street, Ware expresses his nostalgia for being a college student. He graduated in the spring and received a degree in RTF as well as finance — the latter being for practicality, he adds. Despite having been chosen for the film fest, Ware knows he could have grown more as a filmmaker within the RTF program because of all the opportunities it presents to its students. “The one thing I can say about the RTF program is that the degree is as much as you put into it. If you go into the program not wanting to work, you can probably get by, but you won’t have anything to show for it,” Ware says. “That being said, they give you all the resources you need. If you really want to work at it, the RTF program is awesome.”
The success of Ware’s short film is largely influenced by the RTF program at UT. The class where he originally presented the script required weekly critiques and edits that went on for the duration of the semester. Looking back at his undergrad career, Ware says he wishes he would have gone through with more of his ideas instead of just letting them pass by. “My advice to current RTF students is to make everything — anything and everything that pops in your head,” Ware says. “Make it, write it, just do everything. Don’t be lazy. Making films is the most stressful thing you’ll ever do, but just bite the bullet and do it because the end product is worth it. Even if it’s terrible, you learn a lot.”
So why hasn’t Ware moved to Hollywood to pursue his filmmaking career? He says Austin is the place he wants to be. Sure, it’s nice having the accessibility that Hollywood offers, but Ware says Austin is a great place to thrive as a filmmaker. “Los Angeles is very Hollywood-driven whereas Austin is a lot more indie-driven,” Ware says. “So if you want to be an indie filmmaker and make what you want to and not what producers tell you to, Austin is a great place to do it. You can find desert areas and then the lake, so it has a lot of great scenery, which is why people move to Hollywood in the first place.”
Ware currently works a job in finance and hopes to use his paycheck to fund his future film projects. While he is not working on anything specific at the moment, he says that the right idea will hit him when it needs to. “I’m writing and just trying to come up with an idea that I am really passionate about,” Ware says.