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Death By Handshake
Directed by: Hudson Flynn
Cast: Hudson Flynn, Andrea Burns
Synopsis: A talented teenager copes with restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic by filming a witty love letter to his New York City hometown.
Congratulations! At 16 years of age, you are the youngest finalist ever to be in MANHATTAN SHORT in our 24 year history. How does it feel to be a finalist and to have your film screening to thousands across the world during one week?
It’s truly exhilarating. The film is such an awkward and zany time capsule. Although it was made just over a year ago, so much in my filmmaking and the world around us has changed. The pandemic was such a community-building experience. That so many people are going to be able to identify with the time and feeling of the film is really exciting to me.
When and how did the idea to make Death By Handshake come to you?
During the first few weeks of lockdown, I had been telling my family I wanted to make something. But every time I wrote something, it never really fit how we were feeling. My school had asked me to make a documentary of my Covid experience but I wasn’t sure how to make it engaging. After doing a deep dive watching some Woody Allen, Mel Brooks and Rob Reiner films, I realized it might be funny to deliver it more as an eccentric progress report. Florida was a bonus. I had written a sort of sweet and cliche ending but when my family decided to re-locate, I rewrote the whole third act and started having way more fun.
What director’s influence you? What directors do you steal from?
I’m definitely guilty of stealing from some of my heroes. I’m a huge nerd for Mike Nichols. I also love some of Peter Bogdonavich’s comedies. What’s Up Doc? is a favorite. The way the writing is handled with such rhythm in each scene blows my mind. There’s a scene in The Graduate where Benjamin’s parents are left shocked and silent after hearing he hasn’t proposed yet and as if the moment wasn’t rich enough with tension, toast pops out of the toaster and buttons the scene. Beats like those are such a masterclass. As for directly stealing, I’ll never tell. They throw you out of college for plagiarism, you know.
You were 16 years of age when you made this film. You’re 17 now. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully, still writing and directing. As long as I’m still trying to tell stories in some capacity I’m satisfied. Part of why I’m so eager to go to film school is because I truly believe the only way I will consistently pump out work and hold myself accountable is if I have pressure and a deadline. Any opportunity that comes from getting to do more of that is a luxury.