Private Project

Trial Period

Jamie, a young queer Black DJ, belongs to an underground nightlife scene in New York City where he no longer feels like an outsider. He is part of a community that expresses itself through music, dance, and fashion. But when his old college friend, Cody, re-enters his life, Jamie’s world turns upside down.

Jamie’s former roommate Cody begins taking up space in Jamie’s head once again. Cody shows up to Jamie’s gig with his new girlfriend (Dakotah) and invites himself over to the after-party following. As Jamie begins to get pulled back into a world of confusion and exploitation, it's hard for him to know up from down.

Jamie brings Cody into spaces where he disrespects and steals, compromising Jamie’s relationship with his friends. When Jamie expresses hesitation about the reunion, Cody attempts to bait Jamie back in, reminding him of their erotically-charged past.

As the sun rises, Jamie heads back to his old friend’s place where Cody and his girlfriend have a fight about the identity politics of the fashion industry, ultimately telling Dakotah that she’s being tokenized. Noticing his ex-roommates not-so-nice side, Jamie leaves the apartment and ends the carry while Cody continues to beg for a guestlist spot for the following night. In the end, Jamie chooses the people who make him feel safe. He doesn’t put Cody on the list and unapologetically enjoys Club Eat’s LIVE performance with the people who make him feel like more than an object.

  • Kiernan Sekou Francis
  • Kiernan Sekou Francis
  • Kiernan Sekou Francis
  • Nicole Tucker
  • Emmanuel Alejandro Molina
    Key Cast
  • Cory Wilson
    Key Cast
  • Fashion LaBeija
    Key Cast
  • Sausha De La Ossa
    Key Cast
  • Parker Bright
    Key Cast
    "Miss Parker"
  • Marcel Pawlas
    Key Cast
  • Taylor Cherry
    Key Cast
  • Seth Valestrand
    Key Cast
    "Smoke Shop Flirt 1"
  • Melissa Dee
    Key Cast
    "Smoke Shop Flirt 2"
  • Spencer Bellamy
    Key Cast
    "Smoke Shop Flirt 3"
  • Amy Diop
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes 13 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 20, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    2,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    RED; ARRI AMIRA; Super 8 Film
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Pratt Institute
Director Biography - Kiernan Sekou Francis

Kiernan Francis is a Chicago-born artist and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. Being Black and queer, Kiernan’s work primarily explores the psychological sensations of contemporary young adulthood, outsiderness, and sexuality.

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Director Statement

Growing up in Chicago, I was one of the few queer people I knew; being both Black and queer made me an outsider creating tension within my relationships. My youth was characterized by paranoid gazes and relationships kept secret. I was ostracized for my flamboyance and exploited for my sexuality, floating in and out of daydreams about boys I could never be with. However, once I moved to New York, I began to feel like less of an outsider since interest and validation of queer subculture were on the rise, leading to a different form of exploitation for my community. Through this, I was able to observe the contrast between insiderness and outsiderness more clearly.

As a Black queer artist and filmmaker deeply involved in the community I am portraying, Trial Period holds great cultural significance for me and my friends as it relates to our experiences of being exoticized and objectified. But it's also an ode to the space we’ve created for ourselves that we are proud of. Trial Period is a film that encapsulates my lived experience as well as a shared/unanimous queer experience of erotic and cultural exploitation. Trial Period’s making involved the community I belong to, thus I authentically cast friends and community members who inhabit these spaces and relate to my experience.

Visually, Trial Period emulates the gaze and psychology of our protagonist as it is concerned with themes of lust, envy, and potentiality, qualities latent within nightlife culture and young adulthood. Shifting between the digital clarity of the present and the hazy grain of the past shot on Super 8 film, then and now converge in a fluid and lyrical dance. Being a DJ personally, I utilize the film’s sound to underscore tonal shifts in my characters’ internal worlds as well as spotlight talented musicians within my community.