What may seem like a normal night for Chris, Teo and Julian quickly turns sour and becomes a pivotal point in their lives when Chris tells Teo his darkest secret.

In “Promise,” Sebastian Delascasas crafts an intense short drama that captures a seemingly ordinary night between three friends—Chris, Teo, and Julian—as it spirals into a life-altering moment. When Chris reveals his darkest secret to Teo, the film plunges into an exploration of trust, friendship, and the emotional complexities that bind individuals together. Delascasas’s direction ensures that this eight-minute narrative packs an emotional punch, pulling the audience into a raw and intimate conversation that challenges the characters’ bonds and forces them to confront difficult truths.

The film’s understated approach to its disturbing subject matter allows the powerful performances and the nuanced direction to shine. The talented cast brings a depth to their roles that transforms “Promise” into an emotional roller coaster, highlighting the fragility and strength of friendships. With its exceptional character play and gripping narrative, “Promise” stands out as a poignant and thought-provoking short film that leaves a lasting impact on its audience.

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind “Promise” and how the idea for the film came about?

Promise was sort of an experiment for me as a filmmaker. I had never made a film before and I wanted to see if I could make one where it all took place in one room. Where the drama was really just all in the circumstance. The topic for Promise started out as a question. While at NYU I took a class on Nature vs Nurture that really left me fascinated with what makes people turn out the way they turn out, specially when it’s something we don’t understand. I wanted to know if people in regard to this topic were born or were made. Studying the psychology of this made me end up seeing what resources we had, which aren’t a lot. I found myself asking myself what would I do if my friend confessed to me something like this? Which then made me ask my friends what would you do? All the answers were so different and were so interesting I wanted to basically turn that question into a film: what would you do?

The film deals with sensitive and uncomfortable subject matter. What motivated you to explore such themes, and what message did you hope to convey to the audience?

It was really important to make the film as unbiased as possible. In order to effectively turn the question into a film, it had to be told from an unbiased place. Because of the touchy subject matter, I’m aware people will have different reactions to it, which is great. That’s what I want I want people to have their own unique reaction to it. But I wanted to make sure I wasn’t really telling people how they should feel. I don’t think anyone should feel one way or another about this topic. I think people will experience different reactions. For me it was just important to seek the truth and really just make a compelling movie.

The dynamic between the characters, particularly Chris and Teo, is central to the film. How did you approach developing these characters and their relationships?

The relationship between Chris and Teo is what creates the drama in the film. Because it’s such a crazy confession to tell your best friend, someone you’ve known since childhood. Makes you question what you can do. I wanted to put the audience in Teo’s shoes and have them ask themselves that question. That only works if the relationship is a strong one. One that we can relate to. I wanted all three characters to feel like real people. They all represent what young men are sort of like in their primal and weird toxic masculinity state. But they all should seem “normal” otherwise the movie doesn’t work if you go “ah yeah that makes sense”.

“Promise” seems to evoke a range of emotions in viewers. What kind of emotional response were you aiming for, and how did you work to achieve it?

Oh yeah this is my favorite thing about it. I didn’t intend for a specific emotion other than discomfort. It’s a very uncomfortable situation and I definitely wanted it to feel that way, but other than that people are just feeling what they feel. For the longest time it was just my friends watching the film so yeah the responses were different but not that different. I wanted to make this movie to create really different responses. It wasn’t until we premiered at Indy shorts that I really witnessed the response of the audience in a full theater. Although they all feel completely different about the film, you can feel them Synchronize in the moments they laugh and in the moments they feel uncomfortable. Now that the movie is online it’s amazing because people are so vocal about it. I see people loving it and I see people hating it, which I’m ok with. Better that than people feeling indifferent about it.

The film’s pacing and tension build gradually throughout. Can you discuss your approach to creating and maintaining suspense in the narrative?

I’m a really big fan of intense movies, particularly movies by The Safdie’s and Elara Pictures. They were sort of my introduction to this anxiety driven cinema that I’m fascinated with. How is it possible they make me feel like I had a panic attack? I wanted to see if I could somehow achieve that. It all really came down to shooting everything super close up so that it creates a claustrophobic feeling while making sure the editing is really fast. I wanted it to feel like we were there. So like our eyes we move in and out of focus, our vision gets shaky and we can’t watch people talking at the same time. We have to pick one. I was forcing the audience to be present in that room with them while also making them stare at who and what I wanted them to.

The setting plays a significant role in the film, particularly in setting the tone and atmosphere. How did you choose the setting, and what effect were you hoping it would have on the story?

Well our Production Designer Hayden Ciampini and our Gaffer Haley Shaw played a huge part in that. I wanted it to feel like a normal guys apartment while also being able to play with colored lights to elevate the stylized setting. It was super important to me that it was one location. I thought about the amount of deep conversations I have had in my life while playing a video game and it just seemed like the right setting to me. Turning something so mundane into something really uncomfortable and trapped.

Tell us about Julian’s role in the film.

Julian sort of represents toxic masculinity in a more modern way. The “woke” bro. But to me Julian is a fascinating character because right from the get go we sort of get scared about him finding out about the situation. What would Julian’s reaction be like? I wanted his character to create an opposition to Chris’s character. We all know someone like Julian. That way we really see Teo trapped in the middle of this situation that he has no clue what to do with.

The ending of the film leaves a lasting impact on viewers. Without giving away spoilers, can you talk about the significance of the ending and what you hope viewers will think or feel after watching it?

Well the ending to me is what makes the movie into a question. The whole film is a passing of information from Chris onto Teo. By watching Teo now have to live with this information we ourselves immediately start to ask ourselves what we would do in that scenario. By the time the credits are rolling we feel this sense of wanting to know more. Well that’s sort of for the audience to come up with. I’m interested in knowing what they think happens next.

Can you tell us what has drawn you to the short film format?

Short films are just short stories. The best ones for me are moments in time caught on film. Little moments that we sort of relate to, wish we had, or absolutely want nothing to do with. It’s a completely different way of story telling because you don’t have that much time to build a backstory and world. You sort of have just a couple of minutes. I think people should focus on telling a short story and not trying to cramp a long story into a short one. Sometimes they’re just so accessible and incredible.

And finally, what are the short films out there that have left a lasting impression on you?

Well I’ve recently been watching so many different short films because of the festival circuit. Some people are so incredibly creative. One movie that really sticks out with me is “Shadow Brother Sunday” by Alden Ehrenreich. I was lucky to watch that film at Indy in the same category that Promise was playing. I was blown away. It’s everything I love about short films and more. Not sure when it comes out but highly recommend you give it a watch. Some other more accessible options that are online are “Alberto and The Beast” by John Paul Lopez-Ali, “The Strange Thing About The Johnsons” by Ari Aster, “Two Cars and One Night” by Taika Waititi.