Unlucky-in-love Clayton is anxious for his first date with August, whom he met on Grindr, but his roommate Julian's prodding questions and sex-positive support are only worsening Clayton's nerves. When he meets August, Clayton is almost immediately at ease, charmed by how natural their connection feels. The date comes to a screeching halt when August casually mentions his partner, and Clayton walks out on him, aggressively judging August’s choice to be polyamorous. With his suave veneer fractured, a dejected August seeks comfort to the one person who understands how it feels to seek romance outside a relationship - his boyfriend.

  • Alessio Mineo
  • Alessio Mineo
  • Eleanor Vigenault
  • Michael J. Lyons
    Key Cast
  • Jeremy Matthew Feight
    Key Cast
  • Julian Goza
    Key Cast
  • Luis Selgas
    Key Cast
  • Raissa Reis
    Key Cast
  • Tyler Brown-Ortiz
    Key Cast
    "Horny Passerby"
  • Donovan Holmes
    Key Cast
    "Judgy Passerby"
  • Chandler Desforges
    Director of Photography
  • Dorothy Zhu
    Production Designer
  • Paula Crichton
  • Will Mayo
  • Tyler Rabinowitz
    Executive Producer
    Catalina, See You Soon
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Romance, Comedy
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    March 22, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    15,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Alessio Mineo

Alessio Mineo is an LA-based director, making his debut with the short film POLYWOOD. Though he began his career as an actor, he worked in development and production in recent years across projects such as TriStar's WOMAN KING and Amazon Studios' upcoming feature THE IDEA OF YOU. He's always been a writer, working mostly in poetry and stage-plays, but when he began writing POLYWOOD the vision for this world and these characters was so clear to him that he knew he had to direct it. This first foray into directing was made possible by the generous instruction and support of his fellow queer filmmakers, in whose footsteps he hopes to continue creating.

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Director Statement

Insofar as I remember seeing queer folks on screen as a kid, I remember them being laughed at. If they were ever taken seriously, it was usually as a victim of violence, but more often they were a punchline. As queer stories (mostly cis/white/gay male stories) began breaking through in tv and cinema, I noticed that the most lauded and celebrated queer stories were all tragedies. So comedy wasn’t safe because people like me were always the butt of the joke, but dramas did not present a better alternative. I see this pattern repeating itself again (albeit in less blatantly harmful ways) with representations of polyamory. It is often portrayed as a mask for dishonesty, the last gasp of a dying partnership, or an invalidated mode of romance altogether. At a low point in my adult life, when I was struggling with both clinical depression and deep relationship insecurity, it was comedy that brought me back from a looming brink. It was Joan Rivers’s stand-up specials, and trashy B-movie rom-coms, that reminded me what queer joy could feel like. I can’t discredit the benefits of therapy, my partner, and my wonderful friends in helping me navigate that quarter-life crisis, but it was comedy that reminded me I could still cackle with laughter when I didn’t even feel capable of leaving my apartment.

Polywood is not necessarily a foray into the next frontier of queer representation, nor is it an essay on the merits of polyamory - it is a heartfelt joke for me and other queer/poly folks, but this time we’re in on it rather than victim to it. It is a deeply personal if fairly pedestrian story, based on a real encounter… okay, more than one real encounter. It was imperative to me that our protagonists be as messy as they are charming, and as optimistic as they are self-defeating. The word “normalize” is thrown around a lot, but I believe there is a lot of normalizing to do when it comes to representations of queer life, especially where sex is centered. There are myriad ways for dates to go wrong, for relationships to fail, and for queer people to hurt and be hurt beyond the melodramatic tropes we’ve seen. There is also an endless array of ways queer people can experience joy, community, pleasure, and all the other wonderful things we’ve watched straight characters indulge in for ages. POLYWOOD is simply my first contribution to our collective narrative, and a story of how one dude can try to live outside the boxes we (even queer people) put each other in.

My writing has been focused mostly on genre concepts and prospective fiction with queer heroes, but POLYWOOD was my first attempt to center comedy in queerness. In the directing of this piece I found a simple yet salient expression of my unique truth. From the first auditions of our actors, to the experiences of our almost entirely queer crew on set, the realness of what we were building was felt throughout this process by all, but it wasn’t until the edit that I began to see just how familiar the messiness of our characters was, not to mention the life our cast and crew breathed into this story. From the design to the locations to the music and beyond, it was important that the world feel lived-in, and that the present dating culture in young metropolitan communities be just as felt in the story as the mis en scène of Los Angeles itself. I’m proud of the truth of POLYWOOD, not just in its expression of nuanced emotion and yearning for connection, but in its ability to laugh at itself, to celebrate sex in the face of shame, to believe in love in the wake of rejection, and to hope for more kindness than one might have found heretofore. These are core to my experience as a queer person, and as a director I am committed to celebrating and amplifying the multitudinous spectrum of experiences queer people both like and unlike myself can, and really do, live. I hope this piece starts conversations, and I hope it sparks an appetite for more stories like this, and I hope it does normalize polyamory just a little bit more in the eyes of someone who may have misunderstood it previously - but most of all I hope it tickles its audiences and transports them somewhere colorful yet real.

As a director, triumph over insecurity came through doing the work, and taking the work seriously, rather than worrying about whether I was capable of doing the work. Over the years, when I thought I couldn’t do this I was only half right - the whole truth is that I couldn’t do it alone. It is entirely thanks to the selfless support and foolhardy encouragement of my collaborators and friends that I was able to execute the vision I had when I first sat down to write this in 2019. Together, we made a world of possibility out of the world that is. As fun as it was to make, the comedy playing before you is still a product of some blood, sweat, and tears, as well as a healthy dose of humility and a few "murdered darlings." In my future work I hope to preserve the spirit of POLYWOOD, the understanding that whether you’re on screen, behind the camera, or in the audience, none of us are in this alone. Whether my next project is a dour Andrew Haigh-inspired drama, or the mega-queer superhero feature I’ve been workshopping for years, I am committed to helming a production that eschews the industry status quo in favor of a healthy, honest, and collaborative work culture. I believe equitable representation in any arena can only happen when we listen to one another; and when I listen to queer stories, even knowing there is hurt and darkness, I still find so much to laugh about - I hope you’ll laugh with me.