So how did Kelsey Lloyd go from attending the internationally renowned SXSW film and music festival as a starstruck University of Texas coed to working as associate producer of a film featured at the festival?
After earning a public relations degree, Lloyd bolted for Los Angeles and began working in the movie industry. Her latest project, Small Engine Repair, will debut at SXSW in March.
The film, written, directed and starring John Pollono, was shot in Yonkers, New York last February and March. Lloyd originally came onboard as the director’s assistant but was so heavily involved she was credited as associate producer. She participated in all phases from pre-production through the duration of the shoot.
“John Pollono had a lot on his plate, so I was there to fill in where he needed,” says Lloyd. “I did everything from coffee runs to helping find the perfect hair and makeup team to working with the incredible production designer to create our sets.”
Small Engine Repair is based on a play by Pollono and inspired by his daughter, who was 7 at the time.
“He wanted to capture the complicated emotions that come with raising a daughter in what is still a very male-dominated society,” says Lloyd. “John Pollono and Jon Bernthal, who both originated their roles in the play, have been working to make this film happen for a long time, so it’s very exciting to see it come to fruition.”
The film centers on blue collar childhood friends Frank, Swaino and Packie and Frank’s daughter, Crystal, who they all had a hand in raising. The guys meet one night in Frank’s out-of-the-way repair shop under cloudy circumstances, then college jock Chad shows up and ignites a long-simmering resentment that sets the twisty drama on its breathless course.
“The film really holds up a mirror to a lot of issues prevalent in our society and explores themes surrounding the MeToo movement through the prism of class in a way I think audiences haven’t seen before.”
Forming bonds with other filmmakers, she says, is the biggest reward of working on an indie film like Small Engine Repair.
“It’s emotionally and physically demanding work. It’s cold, the days are long, but you’re all committed to bringing this story to life, and it’s so special. With this film, we were able to bring back a lot of the actors from the play to play different roles in the film. It was like making a movie with all of your friends.”
Waiting to hear back from film festivals on whether the film was accepted, though, was tough.
“You create this thing and you love it, and then you put it out into the world and hope others love it, too.”
Lloyd says she’ll attend SXSW – but it won’t be her first time.
“Fun fact – I saw Lizzo in concert at SXSW before she was famous,” she says.
I couldn’t resist asking what she’d be wearing to the festival.
“Oh gosh – my sister, Jennifer, who actually plays ‘Dottie’ in the film, and I have been saving tons of outfit inspirations on Pinterest. We’re loving white cowboy boots right now. SXSW is full of innovative and creative people, so I will definitely need to up my fashion game.”
And when the festival is finished?
“I’m currently working for a talent manager, learning the ins and outs of the industry from a different angle. Working on an indie project is like a crash course in filmmaking, so I’m trying to continue that trend of soaking up as much knowledge as possible. I’m definitely itching to get back on set, though.”
“My goal is to work in development,” continues Lloyd. “I would love to produce. To take a film from an idea or a book and see it all the way through to the screen is something really special, and that’s what I’d love to continue doing.”
If you’d like to see Small Engine Repair and the other SXSW films, you can learn more on the SXSW website here.
“I believe SXSW audiences will love it,” praises Lloyd. “It’s funny, it’s dark, it’s raw and emotional. It’s honestly a rollercoaster. And the performances…they are incredible.”