Private Project

Better Than I Was

After six years of estrangement, Gene returns home for Thanksgiving. In the events leading up to dinner, Gene attempts to reconnect with their sister and brother, both resentful of Gene's long absence, while the unwavering conservatism of their parents poses a challenge to Gene's authenticity.

  • Julien Pedro
  • R. Roustom
  • Julien Pedro
  • Julia Moran
  • Joey Rudzinskas
  • Julien Pedro
    Executive Producer
  • Kat Fortey
    Executive Producer
  • Rosemary Anne Blank
    Key Cast
  • Olivia Francis
    Key Cast
  • Jonathan Heatley
    Key Cast
  • Olivia DePaux
    Key Cast
  • Robert Austin Love
    Key Cast
  • Kat Fortey
  • Julianne Cantwell
    Production Designer
  • Julien Pedro
  • Maggie Franz
    Costume Designer
  • BreAnna Romero
    Casting Director
  • Mary Catherine Burns
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Drama, Family Drama, LGBTQ+, Coming-of-Age
  • Runtime:
    17 minutes 47 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 16, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    3,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, RED
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Savannah College of Art and Design
Director Biography - Julien Pedro

A self-proclaimed crybaby, Julien Pedro jokes that they’ve cried during every show and movie they’ve ever watched. They’ve always been impressed by the medium’s ability to completely draw people in, and whether it’s through the story, acting, or just a pretty song, film has always been able to hit that emotional chord.

Growing up in a small beach town in Massachusetts, Julien’s introduction to filmmaking consisted of running around their neighborhood with their friends, recording superhero shorts and documenting wild turkeys on a bright blue iPod Nano. As their passion for filmmaking grew, pursued a BFA in Film & Television Production at the Savannah College of Art & Design. With a concentration in editing and a minor in Acting for the Camera, Julien has found that this understanding of the filmmaking process has helped to strengthen their directorial skills.

While in school, Julien honed in on their passion for telling stories about underrepresented groups as a queer filmmaker. They believe in the importance of making sure that everyone has a chance to see themselves accurately represented on screen and to have their story heard. They hope that by showing these stories, it’s helping to bridge the gap of understanding between these groups and the rest of the world.

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Director Statement

My film, "Better Than I Was," is my big debut into directing. I’m not sure if I would’ve had the confidence to take on this project if it wasn’t written by my best friend of ten years. We’ve watched each other grow as artists since elementary school, but have never really found an opportunity to collaborate. Despite being across the country from each other, we finally embraced the chance to do so.

"Better Than I Was" is a story about a nonbinary individual, written and directed by nonbinary artists. I’m a big advocate of queer stories being told by queer filmmakers, as media has a tendency to either fetishize or misrepresent the LGBTQ+ community in their depictions of it. Everyone involved in the development of this project is part of the LGBTQ+ community and it was important to us all to bring something personal to Gene's story. We are excited to present a story written by trans filmmakers, starring trans actors, and I hope the sincerity that’s created when these artists come together is able to shine through in the final project.

I think it’s important to tell queer stories where gender identity and/or sexuality is part of the character without being the center of the story. "Better Than I Was" is a story about family, embracing one’s self, and what happens when those things begin to collide; and whether the people who watch this film are a part of the LGBTQ+ community or not, I hope that everyone watching is able to find a part of themselves in the story that unfolds.