The end of 2008 is proving to be a busy time for Anthony Vasiliadis. The 27-year-old’s short film Technophiliac played at last month’s Lone Star International Film Festival, and next week he will receive his M.F.A. in filmmaking from the University of Texas at Arlington. He also spent early November shooting another short called Nine to Five, a black comedy set in a hell envisioned as a clotted bureaucracy. That film is now in postproduction. “I’m looking forward to the new year, when I’ll get to actually go and see a movie,” he said.
A second-generation Greek-American originally from Amarillo, Vasiliadis (who insists on the name “Anthony” and won’t answer to “Tony”) is a broad-shouldered guy with a shaven head and a goatee. He has an engineering background and finances his film projects via his job as an IT worker at the Arlington power-trading company Tenaska. The self-described Star Trek geek was originally set for a career in technology before he decided to turn to a more creative pursuit. “I was in a class at DeVry, and the guy was telling me how a keyboard works, going into exact detail about how the circuitry inside works. All I could think was, ‘I don’t care!’ “
He started taking film classes at Tarrant County College in 2004, then transferred his credits to UTA to continue his education, a process he described as “a battle.” Many of his first filmmaking efforts were music videos for the band The Last Romantica, whose members are his friends. (His earlier efforts can be seen on YouTube or www.revver.com.) Technophiliac, a grainy black-and-white science-fiction film about a young woman who conducts 24-hour electronic surveillance on ordinary people’s lives so that she can sell them stuff, was a class project in which his fellow students conceived the story and selected Vasiliadis to direct.
“Light is much more important when you’re filming in black-and-white,” he said. “We looked at everything for contrast between light and dark, and we designed the set to light the actors.”
It was also his first experience working with actors. “I’ve seen other directors not talk to their actors on the set, either before they shoot or between takes,” he remembered. “I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to give my actors feedback.” The film festival gave him a chance to see his work on the big screen for a paying audience, though at the late-night screening he attended, a technical glitch cut out the sound for the first minute or so, a “frustrating” experience for him. (The film also screened later in the festival without a hitch.) “The main thing I remember is butterflies,” he said. “It’s the same feeling you get before you perform, but there’s nothing to do except listen to the audience react.”
He plans to keep on working at his IT job, having no desire to cut his teeth by serving as a grip or a personal assistant on other people’s films. “I have friends who do that, and they get so wrapped up that they stop making their own stuff,” he said. While he’s toying with the idea of a documentary about the open-source community, he’s mainly looking to make movies that create new fictional worlds unto themselves. He’s hoping that his situation will be good for him. “When you’re low-budget, you have to innovate,” he said.