Aspiring director and screenwriter Aidan Lloyd ’24 is making his way into the film world. Lloyd isn’t here to mess around — he is currently filming his first scripted short film “Icarus” and is working with CNN as a Documentary Unit Intern this summer. Production for “Icarus” is predicted to wrap early this summer and Lloyd hopes to enter it into the film festival circuit.
The Messenger’s interview with Lloyd appears below and has been edited for length and clarity.
How did you become interested in filmmaking?
Lloyd: I got involved in film in my junior year, going into my senior year of high school. I’m from Chicago [and] I went to a really big school that was a selective enrollment school, so you have to test to get in. It pulled people from all across my city, so my school was on the North Side, but I was actually from the South Side of Chicago. The demographics are very different and the school was predominantly Latino, but it was more of a white-dominated space. Essentially, the school had a problem — African American students would enter the school with the highest test scores, highest grades out of all the student populations and then exit the school with the lowest test scores and lowest grades out of all the populations. There was a gap between African American students and literally anyone else part of the general student population. They called the gap Achievement Gap.
My principal — because I’ve been vocal in my environment about these issues before, and we had some one-off interactions talking about various things going on with the school — he approached me and made me aware of this. He sat me down and had a two hour conversation about it and asked, with all that information said, what are my initial thoughts? What do I think? Is there something long-term that could be done? I thought about it for a little bit and one day I was just watching movies and was like, I want to make a documentary about this. I think this would be a really interesting story to expand in a larger form to show a larger community, because we later found out that this was a problem that affected all the selective enrollment schools in Chicago. So, I did that documentary and, from there, various incidents happened where I just kept getting pushed along and kept going further. My interest in film stems back further, it just wasn’t generally taken seriously as “I can do this” until the documentary.
Are there recurring themes or genres that you are drawn to?
Lloyd: Not necessarily. I am interested in doing anything and everything. I hate awards. My biggest goals aren’t to win an Oscar or anything. [One of] my biggest goals is I really want to direct a Batman movie. I really want to direct a Star Wars movie, even. The Batman one is a nonnegotiable, that one has to happen. I have to be in some sort of project involving a DC Superhero, specifically Batman. I also have different ideas — mostly if I was given a genre, it would probably be drama. A lot of the things I am thinking about and a lot of the screenplays I write are dramatized. Also, more having something to do with that social justice piece. That’s always something that has been a form of how I have been involved and my relationship with film. With that story, that’s how I started off, and that was a documentary. Me being Black, I find that my identity sifts into my work a lot and the way I think about my work and the stuff that I write. Oftentimes that gets mixed in. As far as being directly associated with a genre, I would probably say no. I want to explore and do it all — from romance to action to scary.
What are your current projects?
Lloyd: One of the current projects we are filming is “Icarus.” That’s going to be my first actual film. I’ve done documentary work, I’ve done commercial shoots, I’ve directed those and stuff like that, I’ve directed some of the social media stuff for St. Olaf. This is my first time in an actual scripted area and scripted film. We are working on “Icarus” right now — we are wrapping up shooting. There’s a couple of screenplays I have kind of floating around that I’ve been working on and some ideas that I’ve started to send to studios and that they’re started to get a wind of. That’s been a pretty good experience and something I’ve been spending a lot of time doing. I hope to spend more time into this summer and next semester — because I’m studying abroad — I want to use that time to really get into writing and write a lot of more. I’m interning for CNN in New York this summer and hopefully I get an internship also when I’m abroad in a comparable field doing something with a camera.
What have been some unexpected troubles you have faced while filming “Icarus?”
Lloyd: One of the biggest things is that you can never have enough equipment. Even though the school has been very generous in supplying equipment for us — and high grade equipment any other college student across the nation is touching. More money, more problems. For example, with the camera we use and the high quality of the equipment we have, the files it produces are massive. We all are sitting here on MacBook Pros that are not meant to handle that type of information and then process that type of information. It makes that process a little bit longer, but with all those little difficulties — working with people who are not necessarily actors, working with one or two cameras at a time, and no one has the experience in the industry I have prior to [the project] — all of those things cause these little problems but it makes it so much more fun and so much more enjoyable, because we are all just figuring it out. I would rather have this experience of figuring it out now and really grinding and have to work hard, then get all the equipment right away and just never struggle through anything. Having the experience of not having that stuff is way better of a more quality experience — it’s a lot richer experience and I do it with people I really enjoy being around. To have those screwups where we are all just sitting in a room like ‘Oh my god, we have to fix this,’ I appreciate those moments and I’m glad they exist. I think we get a better product out of it than if everything just goes according to plan.
If you are interested in supporting Lloyd financially, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/donate-to-help-aidan-get-internship-apartment.