A Short Film (~15 Minutes)

Coming Spring 2018


Introduction by David Lykes Keenan, Writer/Director

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Marsh is 24 years old, and he struggles with a tormenting secret. Feeling disconnected human relationships others take for granted, Marsh treads water in the often painful doldrums of everyday life. One evening, a spark ignites Marsh's imagination of what could be and he embarks on a very private quest.

Bodies of Water is a simple story of a young man isolated from the rest of humanity by profound shame and his fear of absolute rejection. It's about love at first sight. It's about seizing the moment.

It's about overcoming one's fears to reach out to another human being. It's about longing for acceptance and the possibility of love.

As the filmmaker, I hesitate to call this a "gay film". Yes, Marsh is gay but the young man he ultimately meets and who is poised to change his life, may or may not be. This is left for the audience to decide. Marsh's struggle with loneliness, isolation, and his desire for a genuine human connection is universal.

Ellar Coltrane plays Marsh. The world watched Ellar grow up before its eyes, literally, in the award-winning film Boyhood. Ellar and I have known each other for eight years. We have forged a strong friendship and a unique bond which we dug into to find the emotional core of the film.

We consulted with Louis Black Productions, a film production company founded by Louis Black, one of the most influential individuals in Austin. Louis is co-founder of both the Austin Chronicle weekly newspaper and the massively successful SxSW festivals.


The look and tone for Bodies of Water was strongly influenced by Tom Ford's A Single Man. Thematically the stories are similar -- but more importantly, Ford's film beautifully captures visually both George's (Colin Firth) inner world and the time period of the 1960's.

If there is a single short film that has inspired me, it was The Stutterer which won the Academy Award for best short film in 2016. It reveals the inner struggles of its main character in a very charming and sympathetic way. The audience pulls for Greenwood (Matthew Needham) from almost the first frame and shares his emotional journey. I wish for them to relate to Marsh in a similar, loving way.

Another major influence, is the 1971 Italian film Death in Venice which lushly captures one man's obsession using virtually no dialogue. There is an element of obsession in Bodies of Water -- therefore, I have asked Ellar to study Dirk Bogarte's performance and asked Amy Bench, our director of photography, to study the cinematography of Pasqualino De Santis.

The story of Bodies of Water began as concept for a feature length film over two years ago. Ellar has been in the loop of story development from the very beginning. As time went on, it became evident that a short film pulled from the beginning of the longer story was a more appropriate starting point.

My relationship with Louis Black Productions (formally ProductionForUse) began when one of the early drafts of the script was read by Suzanne Weinert, a consultant to Louis Black Productions and the President of the Austin Film Society. Suzanne shepherded me through several revisions.

The film was shot in several iconic Austin locations: Caswell Tennis Center, Threadgill's restaurant, and the offices of the Austin Chronicle.

Principal photography was completed in the first two weeks of September. Post-production was completed on November 28, 2017.

Our first post-production milestone was to have the film ready to submit to the 2018 SXSW Film Festival. Proudly, this deadline has been achieved!

Since then, BoW has been submitted to other festivals, including:

    Brooklyn Film Festival
    Capital City Film Festival (Lansing, MI)
    Dallas International Film Festival
    Marfa Film Festival
    New York City Independent Film Festival
    North Hollywood CineFest
    Tribeca Film Festival
    USA Film Festival (Dallas, TX)

Other festival submissions will follow.

Download festival submission letter as a PDF.



Watch the Bodies of Water teaser on Vimeo or watch below.



ZDTravis Films and the producers wish to thank Serengeti Systems for provided funding to create this film.