Indiewire’s Springboard column profiles up-and-comers who are deserving of your attention.
“Sweaty Betty,” the docudrama that Indiewire’s Eric Kohn dubbed the “great discovery” of this year’s SXSW Film Festival, is unlike anything currently playing on the festival circuit.
The film, from first-time directors and best friends Joe Frank and Zachary Reed, tells the story of a number of real-life residents — and a massive pig named Miss Charlotte — living in a low income African American neighborhood in Hyattsville, Maryland on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. Frank and Reed, both Hyattsville residents (Frank works as an accountant when not making films; Reed works as a meat processor), made “Sweaty Betty” to pay tribute to their neighborhood and the people they’ve come to love in the area.
The film recently had its East Coast premiere at the Brooklyn Film Festival. “Sweaty Betty” marks their first movie in a planned series centered on the people of the DC area. Get a taste of “Sweaty Betty” in the following clip and hear from the filmmakers below:
We were surprised by everything and how we’ve been received. We didn’t come to any of these festivals with high hopes. We were just hopeful that everyone would enjoy our movie. — Joe Frank
We came from humble beginnings when we started to make the movie. It’s a different kind of movie. We didn’t know if people could handle it. — Zachary Reed
We just wanted to make a movie. We were looking for different stories to tell from our neighborhood, then we came across the story of Miss Charlotte and her family and the story about Scooby and Rico. The movie just came from those two stories. These types of stories need to be seen more often than the other stories that represent black people. We see the wrong things being shown and we wanted to change that. — Frank
When I say from humble beginnings, we didn’t have anybody supporting us, except for our friends and family. We had no financial support. We didn’t expect much because we didn’t have any money. — Frank
We watch a lot of movies, but it wasn’t our dream to become moviemakers. — Reed
We see that we might have an opportunity, but we’re still going to do the thing that we did before. We’re going to find a story and tell it. We don’t think of ourselves as the next Tyler Perry. We wish we were, because we feel we have more things to say than he does. We’ll see when that day comes. — Reed
Unfortunately Maryland and the DC area, they have four film festivals, and not one of them accepted it. They didn’t support us, and we’re kind of upset about that. They basically said that some audiences would not want to watch it. — Reed
We just wanted to make a story about our neighborhood. It didn’t turn into this positive story until we chose these positive people. — Frank
We’re just taking it all in. At this point we’re just having fun. We’re ready to move on to our next project. — Reed
We’re not worried about how “Sweaty Betty” is going to come out. — Frank
If you’re going to do anything in life, you’ve got to put your heart and soul into it. We’re very competitive. When we started this movie, we weren’t going to stop until we had something we could be proud of. We motivate each other. We’re real close friends so if there’s something that he doesn’t like, we can come together and meet halfway. — Reed
One of the reasons we pushed so hard is the way we were brought up. But mainly it’s because we’ve got each other; we push each other. I remember with “Sweaty Betty,” we had pretty much a full story and I was ready to say, “We’re done.” Zach was like, “Nah, we’re not ready yet.” It was because of that push that we created another chapter in the movie, and that made the movie even better. — Frank
The pig was unbelievably well-trained. We weren’t forcing the family or the pig to do anything they didn’t want to do. That story was mostly all documentary. I followed the pig wherever it was going. — Frank