“Symphony of Silence” Film Tackles LGBT Bullying

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Antagonists and protagonists. A production still from the film "The Symphony of Silence."

Antagonists and protagonists. A production still from the film "The Symphony of Silence."

Garrett HeathAs part of a spotlight on local filmmakers with movies featured in the San Antonio Film Festival, I reached out to Cedric Smith of Another Open Door and Well Ced Productions.

His movie, “Symphony of Silence” about high school bullying is showing at 9:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 22 at the Santikos Embassy Theater.

The film recently won “Best LGBT Short” at the 2012 South Texas Underground Film Festival (STUFF). I got a chance to connect with Smith about the inspiration behind the film he wrote and directed.

Garrett Heath for the Rivard Report: Are you a native San Antonian? If not, what brought you here?

Cedric Smith, writer/director of "Symphony of Silence."

Cedric Smith, writer/director of “Symphony of Silence.”

Cedric Smith: I am a Native San Antonian. Born and raised on the Eastside and graduated from Judson High School.

RR: Your Twitter profile shows your location in San Francisco now – did you move out to the Bay Area permanently? 

CS: I have split my time between San Francisco and San Antonio over the last 20 years. I had relocated back to San Francisco in 2010. Before I had left we had finished our first short “Unimaginable.” It was well received so I had decided to write my first feature, “The Interval” and filmed it in San Antonio since all of my crew is here. When production wrapped on that in August 2011, I went back to San Francisco, where I wrote SOS (“The Symphony of Silence”) and came back to San Antonio to film it. A two-week trip has turned into a two-year stint with several films created. So I am here in San Antonio more or less permanently now.

RR: What inspired you to make this movie, “The Symphony of Silence?”

CS: Bullying has become such a social epidemic that it is all over the media. I walked by the television and Oprah was doing a special called “Bullied to Death” about kids that committed suicide. That stuck with me. And then The Trevor Project came out with their “It Gets Better” LGBT campaign and one day I thought, “What if it doesn’t?” That is how SOS came to be.

Antagonists and protagonists. A production still from the film "The Symphony of Silence."

Antagonists and protagonists. A production still from the film “The Symphony of Silence.”

RR: Growing up did you or any of your friends have experiences with bullying? Did that experience influence the movie?

CS: I was bullied in school, mostly name-calling. I developed a thick skin at an early age so the name-calling was just “one of those things.” Occasionally, it would get physical when I would have to defend myself but for the most part it was just name-calling.

RR: What do you hope that audiences will take away from your film?

CS: Bullying is a social epidemic. We all need to do our part to help those that are victims, whether it is in the schoolyard or in cyberspace. It should not take tragedy to make their voices heard because by then it is too late. (Watch the Symphony of Silence trailer.)

"The Symphony of Silence" character Zach, played by actor Ben Carlee, hides from bullies in a bathroom. Courtesy photo.

“The Symphony of Silence” character Zach, played by actor Ben Carlee, hides from bullies in a bathroom. Courtesy photo.

RR: What locations did you shoot the movie? Are any scenes that a local viewer may recognize? 

CS: Our original high school that we were going to film at dropped us four days before filming because of school district red tape so we were fortunate that the George Gervin Academy took us in at the last minute and let us film there. We also filmed at the coffee shop at Northwest Vista College and a home in the Dignowity Park on the Eastside called The Rose.

RR: Growing up in San Antonio, where was the place that you would often go to watch movies?

CS: Growing up I remember going to the Aztec Theater on weekends. They had double features so my mother and aunt would take us there to keep us quiet for a few hours. My first and fondest memory of going to the Aztec was to see “ET” and “Grease 2,” which might explain why I am more partial to “Grease 2” instead of “Grease.”

RR: What is so appealing about shooting movies here in San Antonio?

CS: San Antonio is on the cusp of greatness when it comes to film. We have great locations and we have great talent in town. It is nice to know that when San Antonio takes off, we were already here making films.

RR: What future projects do you have planned?

CS: A feature version of our first short on same sex domestic violence, “Unimaginable.” We will shoot that one in September. I am currently writing the companion piece to SOS, which focuses on bullying among females; this one is crueler than SOS. After that I definitely need to write a comedy.

For a full schedule of San Antonio Film Festival screenings and film descriptions, check out their website at www.safilm.com.

 

Garrett Heath blogs for Rackspace and is the Average Joe that started SAFlavor. He loves San Antonio, especially eating at mom and pop Mexican food restaurants. Find him on TwitterFacebookPinterest and Google+.

 

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3 thoughts on ““Symphony of Silence” Film Tackles LGBT Bullying

  1. My wife Barb and I met Cedric through Patsy Whitfield who was scouting around Dignowity Hill for a location to shoot some of the scenes for SOS. She found our house, Rose, and we agreed to allow Cedric’s crew to shoot in our house for two weekends in Feb of 2012. During that time Rose became home to a wonderful crew of creative people doing what they love. It was a great experience for us to see the hard work that goes into a film production. More importantly, we got to know these wonderful people who for 4 days took over our house and became our family. The film is a powerful statement of the consequences of bullying. Go see it!

  2. Juan, I am forever grateful to you and Barb for allowing us to become family with you beginning those four days.

  3. I was fortunate to have had a good part in Symphony of Silence. I played Zach’s grandmother. It was powerful message that Cedric was able to convey in this short. Bullying should never be tolerated. I have grandchildren and would hate to see them bullied or let alone hear about it. Because I just might get my baseball bat out, just kidding. I may get angry but I would contact the authorities as needed. Maxine Greco (aka. Grandma Mary)

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