Private Project


  • Michael Curtis
  • Alex Whitmer
  • Michael Curtis
  • Michael Curtis
  • Katherine Shepler
    Key Cast
  • Royce Mann
    Key Cast
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes 32 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 14, 2014
  • Production Budget:
    37,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • 2014 Accolade Award of Excellence for Short Film

    Award of Excellence for Short Film
  • 2014 Accolade Award of Excellence for Directing

    2014 Accolade Award of Excellence for Directing
Director Biography - Michael Curtis

Michael Curtis began his career as a motion picture and television editor, cutting films and broadcast promos for clients ranging from independent directors to major networks like PBS, ABC, TNT, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, and others. In the late 1990s he started EditLab, a production & post house based in Atlanta. Curtis originally trained as an actor and director in live theatre at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Now working exclusively behind the camera, his early experience working with stage actors remains a key component of his film directing approach.

In addition to directing, Curtis has served as a writer, editor, and producer for scores of film, television, and corporate spots. He has been awarded more than 100 creative awards over the last decade alone–including Finalist Awards in both Directing and Editing at the New York Film & Television Festival.

In 2013 Michael launched Filmstigator, the Georgia Film Collaborative–a non-profit arts collaborative that brings writers, actors, and filmmakers together to craft high-quality films in the southeast. ‘GIFT,’ Curtis’s narrative film debut, is the first Filmstigator production.

Michael is currently developing his first feature film project. He lives on a lake near Atlanta with his wife, Susan.

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Director Statement

‘GIFT’ is a special project for me. Not only because it is the first narrative film I’ve directed and produced. Not just because I had the opportunity to help shape the story into its current form. It’s noteworthy because of how the film came into being… crafted by a team of people who chose to trust in a newly-formed (and woefully under-funded) film collaborative called Filmstigator.

‘GIFT’ tells the story of Aaron, a troubled boy who has lost his way in many respects. He’s someone who needs some help setting things right. I imagine lots of us have felt ‘stuck’ in areas of our lives at one time or another, and I think that’s the aspect of his personality I related to most. Will Zoe be able to help him? Can she even find a way to reach him? I wanted to find out.

Getting ‘unstuck’ creatively was one of the main reasons I chose to launch Filmstigator. After years of working as a television editor and producer, I yearned to branch out and start creating the kinds of personal films I’d never had a chance to make before. The kinds of films that had originally drawn me to the industry–but that time, lack of funding, and the demands of making a living had kept me from doing. I wondered if there were others out there like me, and I began actively looking for them.

I found a screenwriter who specializes in writing short films–an American who teaches English & runs a bakery in Mexico. His final draft became my first draft, and together we collaborated on a whole new ending for the film full of symbolism and myth. My 1st AD and script supervisor was a friend who’d never performed either role before–much less both of them at once. I had a veteran camera crew who brought the mighty RED cinema camera to bear, but many people working on our set were not that experienced. But we all believed in the project and in the process. And that was the point.

For me, ‘GIFT’ is about many things. Rather than trying to explain things about the film directly, I prefer the audience to experience the film and make their own conclusions. I hope people enjoy it and get something out of seeing it, but the film stands best on its own.

I tend to be more comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity as a director than I am with black and white answers. I prefer the questions, the mysteries. We all have things that frighten us, things we need to own up to and confront—both in ourselves and in others. We all have times we need to take chances and risk trusting another person.

Maybe we all find the answers that best suit us as we look closely, listen carefully, and break through the obstacles that prevent us from being truly free. I think the stories we tell ourselves have tremendous power. They shape how we view the world around us and how we interact with that world. They make us who we are.