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The Mess He Made


Starring /

A man waits for the results of a Rapid HIV Test in a strip mall, trying to stay calm as his life hangs in the balance.

An immensely powerful film, in a rather gently subtle tone. Director Matthew Puccini gets the personal aspect just right, sending shimmering vibes through the viewers with a carefully crafted 10 minute film. The film is about a man waiting for the results of a rapid HIV test in a small-town strip mall.

A close friend and I both had HIV scares last summer, and felt afterward that we wanted to make something that captured our emotional state during that waiting period. It’s such a tense, surreal moment, and there was something immediately interesting and challenging about translating that into film. More than anything, the goal is for viewers to walk away with a sense of newfound empathy. The hope is that someone who’s never been through an HIV test can watch this film and, afterward, have some inkling of what that situation looks and feels like. For those who have been through an HIV test, the hope is to accurately capture that experience in a contemporary way, that reflects all of the medical advances and work that has been done to address HIV stigma in our culture. We tried to avoid making any sweeping statements about the modern gay experience, and instead focused on recreating this very specific ritual, with a very specific character, and making people feel compassion for that.

Where the tone feels just right by its mood and ambiance, actor Max Jenkins unravels a plethora of emotional transcendence through his subtle acts. The film’s final shot is almost worthy of a shorty Oscar as everything funnels into this one single moment of clarity.

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