Private Project

An American Sunset

It's July 25, 2002 - a year prior to the passing of Mamie Till and the birthday of Emmett Till. Rev. Wheeler Parker, Jr., cousin and last living witness, accounts the day before the abduction and lynching of Emmett Till that not only a boy was lost in the midst of tragedy but a friend and a young man beyond his years.

  • John Varkados
  • John Varkados
  • Belle Moult
  • John Varkados
  • Keshya Williams
  • J. J. Johnson
    Key Cast
  • Chance Dollard
    Key Cast
  • Chris Milton
    Key Cast
  • Palmer Williams III
    Director of Photography
  • John Varkados
  • Gianni DiFusco
    Music and Sound
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Non-Fiction, Crime, Drama
  • Runtime:
    7 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 2, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    ProRes 12-bit 4:4:4:4, ProRes 2K
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - SCAD
  • 2023 Telly Awards
    New York, NY
    United States
    May 23, 2023
  • 2023 Webby Awards
    NYC, NY
    United States
    May 15, 2023
    2023 Webby Winner (Video - Student)
  • 2022 New York International Film Awards
    United States
    November 6, 2022
    Finalist (Best Student Film)
  • 2022 Los Angeles Film Awards
    Los Angeles, CA
    United States
    November 26, 2022
    Winner - Honorable Mention (Student)
Director Biography - John Varkados

John Nicholas Varkados is an American film director, writer, and producer. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Varkados enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, but was released from active duty and moved to Boston in 2014. Varkados studied music theory at Berklee College of Music, specializing in music business management and artist development. Following the advice of a teacher, he later furthered his studies at Boston University, specializing in production and visual storytelling.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

If you are in the American South long enough and not even a pandemic can overshadow the chilling story and terror our history so longs to cover.

Everyone knows the story of Emmett Till and right after finishing the first draft of my script I seemed to find documentaries, short films and apparently a full length feature slated to be released in October of 2022 that is supposed to be casting Whoopie Goldberg.

I was about to trash the whole idea and find a new story to write.

This story was told countless times and my best friend, Caleb Barr, who pitched this story to me back in 2020 months before the national lockdown who was slated to film a concept trailer to grab the attention of the “big wigs” - but circumstances only God knew- Caleb had to pull the plug.

Not the right time I guess.

Fast forward to 2022 spring quarter of SCAD and I was tasked with producing a short film – finally some ounce of creative freedom. My film career thus far consisted of producing thesis films for egotistical student directors, a full length indie low budget written and directed by a man who was raised in Nigeria and lived in the UK, and more recently was 1st AD for a full length Christmas comedy slated for Netflix but come to find it never left the editing room with a loose release date for December 2022.

Back to the drawing board.

So literally, right after given the assignment of creating my own film I worked backwards. I connected the dots of who I worked well with in every production I have wrapped and then even dug as deep as what I felt needed to come out of me- what resonated with me- Emmett Till.

My goal is to tell Emmett’s story in the manner in the way I feel he wants it to be told. Emmett represents the spirit of America- carefree, filled with wonder, and always had something to say with a hop, skip and a jump.

America was yet to open her eyes to man’s wickedness and has yet to imitate and defend the countless Emmett’s that have been disrupted and discolored what America once stood for all due to one’s skin color.

Something that I want to make clear is that humanity should never revisit and repeat the same mistakes but as stupid as we can be we somehow manage to do just that.

No one should have gone through what he did.

No one should have to find a way to cover what is unspeakable either.

The truth hurts but America will know the truth and as we know, the truth will set us free.

If we claim to represent life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – let's take a step back and first see how we have set conditions for that.

My vision for this is to be a platform for a limited series that can capture the spirit of Emmett and the perseverance of the people immediate in Emmett’s life to be an inspiration and put in perspective how not so bad we have in 2022.

Capture the lives that overcome something so evil - because in the decades ahead evil will return in new shapes and we need to be vigilant. To continue to have a beating heart not having grown cold by this bitter earth.

I only see myself as a messenger and seek only to tell a story. I am neither a black man or a white man- I am only an Asian American who was adopted that finds only deep gratitude for this country and will do everything in my power to protect what appears to be fading – what was once valued.

God can one day not bless America- let it not be today.

- JV