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Artist Spotlight: The Makers of
'Parlay the Hard Way'

Trevor March, Spencer Mead, and Uvaldo Palomares


For this spotlight, we are delighted to welcome both the co-directors, as well as the lead actor, of ‘Parlay the Hard Way’ – an incredibly striking short film being considered for multiple categories for this season of The Atlantis Awards. Welcome Trevor, Spencer, and Uvaldo. 


Tell us a little about yourself, growing up and your passions. 

S – Umm, just a twenty-something Bay Area kid who likes watching movies, making films, and hanging out with cool people.

U -Well, I was born in Laguna Hills and grew up in the East Bay. I have always had a passion for stories and storytelling. Especially movies.

T – I am an actor/producer/writer. I have been involved in the storytelling industry through film/improv and threatre since I was about ten. I always loved the idea of transforming and being able to take myself and others somewhere else. 

S – He’s also from the Bay Area. 

U – Yeah we all grew up together. 

T – And they are both writers and directors, though Spencer also has worn a lot of other hats on this particular project.

U – Yeah but we will get to that later I’m sure! 

Did you have any specific influences growing up that lead you towards the film industry? 

S – For me, I would say I grew up without a traditional TV, and because of that, I ended up watching our DVD collection over and over again and found myself going back and watching the same movies. I ended up seeing how they were made by watching special features and commentary tracks, which for my young self was always really cool, seeing all the different places that they got to go and then getting to create this new world.

T – When I was a kid, there was a class offered at my local library where professional film makers came and taught us how to use a camera and basically a crash course on everything indie filmmaking. 

U – Wow, wish I had one of those. 

T – Yeah, it was cool! The class taught us to do everything ourselves and how everything should be in service of the story. That really excited me to see that I could imagine something and then create it on a screen for others to see what was in my brain. So I guess you could say at age 11 I had made my first film and had already been bitten by the bug.

S – When I first got into “storytelling,” the only thing I thought I could do was act because, as a kid, the technical stuff was kind of intimidating. That’s where I met Trevor.

T – Drama class in high school! 

U – Good old Mr. Watts, he had no idea what to do with us. 

S – We have come a long way since then. Eventually I realized that actually telling the stories visually was the part that I was the best at and really loved.

U – Chris Cunningham is probably my earliest influence. 

T – My biggest influences as an actor I would say are Jim Carrey and Robin Williams. Those two, along with Merly Streep and Viola Davis, are definitely my idols in the industry. 

What are you currently working on? 

U – As many scripts as I can write.

S – Yeah what he said. Currently developing several scripts, but the main goal is to make a feature length film, whether that is a self-funded, lower-budget idea or if we can sort of ‘parlay’ this film into a larger project.

T – I am also in the writing process and working towards developing our next project. Currently I am performing as Shakespeare in Something Rotten at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center down in LA. So if you want to see some great live theatre, come and watch!

What were your main responsibilities on this film? 

T – I was the producer and one of the lead actors in “Parlay the Hard Way.” So the short version is that I wrangled the team together to make this project happen, and I brought Blain to life on screen. 

U – I wrote it and helped Spencer direct the film. Almost as an co-director/assistant director role. 

S – As one of the directors as well as the cinematographer, I was kind of in charge of translating the story and telling it visually in the best way possible. Valdo’s script already worked well on the page so visually it needed to be just as strong if not stronger. 

U – We worked side by side to help bring the acting and vision to life. 

S – Sprinkle in the DIY indie aspects of making the film and I’d say my last job was to be creative in the face of whatever problems presented themselves.

T – I would say we all have a bit of that last one in each of our job descriptions! 

Can you tell us about your experience in working with your team in this film? 

S – It was a great working experience. Having three primary minds was nice, just because whenever there is doubt or conflicting ideas between two people, there was always a third person to sort of give their opinion and maybe weigh in. It was interesting working with another director. In the past, that kind of relationship had its pros and cons, but I think we found an interesting balance of keeping the creativity and things moving to get the project done. Probably because it’s working with people that you’ve known for a really long time and made smaller projects with together. So there’s a bit of a shorthand.

U – It was amazing. Spencer is the best co-director a person could ask for. I have known Trevor for as long as Spencer, so working with him was a joy. One of the hardest working actors I know. That isn’t to discount Chris’ hard work either, who also knocked it out of the park. 

T – Yeah Chris really did embody his character very well and his performance is something I appreciate more and more the more I watch the film. 

U – The whole team inspired each other and it was fantastic to work with them. Hopefully I can bring these actors together for roles in the future.

T – I’ve been working with Spencer and Uvaldo on and off for about 10 years. Uvaldo has a wickedly dark sense of humor and a sharp eye for a pop of color, he is a really great idea man. He has a very clear vision and I truly respect that he is an artist through and through. Spencer is a true professional, everything he touches turns to premium quality. A Swiss army knife of a film maker, he is versatile in his skills on set as well as his storytelling abilities behind a camera or an editing table, he can and will do anything and everything that he wants to do. I’m just glad he wants to keep working with me! 

S – Well, you never asked why we don’t have our next project lined up yet….

T – Oh stop!

U – Yeah I mean we know what WE are working on next…. 

T – So I’m being voted off the island I see? 

S – Maybe we should keep him around, he’s good publicity, look at all the nice stuff he says.

U – Oh yeah Trevor, were you done? 

T – No actually I wasn’t. To continue, it was such a pleasure to get to work with both Brian and Faith, it’s a huge breath of life into a project when you work with artists who bring their own magic with them and confidently do their thing. Brandon is also always super reliable and adds good vibes to any room/work environment. I am a huge fan of these humans. I love these guys, I love getting to work with good, kind, talented people and they are all of those things. 

What was the most important thing for this movie to achieve from a narrative and character standpoint? 

S – For me personally, I feel like this movie needed to be a ride. You needed to feel the intensity of these life or death stakes on the surface, but underneath that you need to feel an intrigue toward these two mysterious figures. 

T – Yes! High stakes. The tension throughout the movie has to be held and the gravity of the situation has to keep being heightened. From a character standpoint, those stakes have to do with the relationship between our two main characters—the audience has to know that there is a lot of history and a flood of different emotions that both of these characters are working through to keep going to the end. 

S – The “why” of both characters is there the whole movie, but it’s so buried that it takes the whole film to start to unravel those revelations. I like films that are rewatchable because you see different things when you watch them a second time and I think that is part of what I wanted to achieve personally.

U – I just hope people see the truth in these characters. I feel like audiences have been wanting a short like this for a while.

What makes a film interesting for you? What are three qualities that you look for in a movie? 

U – What I want is to be entertained. To see something new. Or to see something told in a new way. And to have conversations about it afterward. The more fun the whole team and audience is having the better. Metaphor, theme, and art are still important to me. But at the end of the day I entered this for the fun of it. I try to never forget that.

T – My interest is peaked in a film when I notice creative cinematography, when color is used with meaning, or when I can feel the emotions through the score of a scene. Three qualities I look for in a movie: 1)  Like Uvaldo said, fun, no matter what genre we are in, you have to entertain the audience, 2) bold characters with strong intentions, 3) lesson or message, what was the film maker saying or wanting us to get. 

S – For one, rewatchability as I said in my last answer. Some of my favorite movies didn’t become so until my 2nd or 3rd watch. I think there are a lot of subtleties that you can’t pick up on until you’ve seen certain movies more than once. Second, I’d say the originality of the concept. The ability to make me see the world in a different way. Inspire my imagination and transport me to different worlds. It’s like traveling to non-existent places or places I just knew nothing about to expand my thinking about the world. Third, is probably a distinct emotional arch. I think the best movies have something to say and a POV from which they are saying it. I think similarly to the way films can take us to different places they can also make us feel and see things we might never otherwise. I think films have the power to make us more tolerant and understanding towards one another.

What is your opinion on the portrayal of LGBTQ community in popular media?

U – I think there is a lot to be desired but I also see so much nuance and complexity coming out as of late, I hope to add to this diverse conversation. 

S – That’s an interesting question, for me as a white, cisgender, heterosexual male, but an ally to the many marginalized communities out there. I think representation is so very important and it’s starting to happen more and more, but we still have ways to go in mainstream popular media. 

From my vantage point, I think there is a big problem with representation for representation’s sake. I think in art we want to reflect the diversity and complexity of the world we live in, but a lot of that interesting complexity gets watered down in a lot of mainstream work. I remember this quote from a long time ago from Jordan Peele where he was talking about how Martin Lawrence in the late 80s was a hero for him growing up because it was the first time he saw a depiction of a black character as an asshole. A lovable asshole, but nonetheless an asshole. To me, I think we should be striving for that kind of complexity in media across the board where all marginalized folks such as the ones on the LGBTQ spectrum can be the protagonist, but also the antagonist or the love interest or the mentor or the lovable asshole. Ideally representation can be through a variety complex characters rather than having their sexual orientation be their only character trait.

All that said, there are better people than me to answer that question and we should take the time to listen to them.

T – As a proud member of the bisexual community, the fact that we are getting more LGBTQ+ stories out there in popular media is a win on its own. Shows and movies like Sex Education, Love Simon, and most recently Heart Stoppers, are great stories that I am so glad that kids now a day have to watch and see reflections of themselves in. When I was growing up there was one, it was GLEE. (unless you had cool parents that let you watch reruns of Will and Grace) We need more queer artists to keep telling queer stories. I love that diversity and inclusivity is a part of casting for current storytelling. Like Spencer said, I do want to see full humans who are queer and not their queerness being their only character trait. Minority communities getting more and more representation in TV and film brings more awareness to the issues that surround them, we get to provide empathy pills through our camera lenses into your screens to digest. The more empathy we all can have for one another, the better this world will be. 

What project helped you launch your career?

S – I don’t know. I don’t know if any one project has launched my career. I would say I (with the help of friends and the other artists I’ve worked with) have launched my career. We sort of made our own career, and are continuing to do so. There’s not some magical lottery ticket that we’ve cashed in to make us get to this point. We’ve just kept making movies. There’s no on project that’s been a rocket ship that has taken us from zero to the moon so far, you know.. For me it’s been building the ladder. One rung at a time.

U – I’ve been doing short films since I was young. I have always been doing this. So yeah, one rung at a time. 

T – For film, I would say being cast as Collin in “FLUX” and for theatre, I would say being cast as Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Both projects showed me that I could lead. That I as an actor was good enough for a casting team to pick me to hold the weight of their show. Both gave me a lot of confidence that I have been able to take moving forward. They both also challenged me with a TON of homework and left me with a lot of lessons learned. 

What criteria do you use when building your team? 

U – Whether we inspire and challenge each other to make the project excel.

S – We work with small crews often. So the most important thing for me is someone is skilled that can clearly enhance the film, but also mixed in there needs to be excitement.

T – Indie filmmaking is a lot of weight spread heavily on not a lot of people, so anyone who I know can hold their own with a smile and help others when they can is who I want on my team. Who is nice and good at their job. Who will pitch in and go above and beyond. 

S – On “FLUX,” one of my earlier films, the film Trevor just mentioned a bit ago which is on Youtube, Trevor and I had a couple of readings with five or six people. One of them was an older actor who I had seen in other work and initially imagined for the role. Despite being very talented, I got the feeling he felt above the project, which you know I was very young at the time, but still. It rubbed me the wrong way.

Later we ran into Sean Ross who was talented, but a lot less experienced. His intensely infectious enthusiasm ended up being the perfect addition. So it has to be that combo of skill meets excitement for the project for me.

What are you most proud of? Describe your biggest accomplishment to date.

T – Wow. That’s a very personal question. I’ll have to think for a second. 

S – I’m proud of my body of work, which is not exactly one single thing, but I think it is still my answer. You can go onto my Youtube Channel if you go to SpencerMead.com and see them. We’ve made a lot of fun, interesting work there that I’m very proud of.

U – This latest project is honestly my favorite work so far.

T – I think my biggest accomplishment is my follow through in life. I have lived in a way that has shown myself and others that you can accomplish your dreams if you just keep going after them. I have acted in dream roles that I always wanted and wished I could play. (I am currently doing that right now!) Roles that casting teams straight up told me I would never play. Specifically Peter Pan, Disneyland said I was a half inch too tall and would never in my life play him. Two years later I got cast as Peter Pan for Disney Cruise Line and got to play him on a way bigger scale and got paid way more money then Disneyland would ever offer me. But other than just acting, I have great respect for anyone who has seen the creative process through from idea to something tangible in real life that others can interact with. In a sense that is why “Zemblanity” is something I am so proud of and I think I will always hold it as one of my greater accomplishments. 

As a screenwriter, what is the most important aspect of building a character? 

S – I’ll mostly defer to Uvaldo as he is our screenwriter for this one, but as a screenwriter I’d say it always starts with what they want.

T – Strong intentions! Yes! To bandwagon on Spenc, knowing what drives them, where they find fun, and creating distinct quirks for them always helps! 

But yeah, Uvaldo take it away. 

U – That by the end of the film they are a different person. You must ask yourself, what brings them to do things and how those things change them? You must dream the dreams of your characters and ask yourself. Who are they?

T – See this is what I’m talking about when I say he’s an Artist’s artist. 

S – Yeah Uvaldo is definitely that, and we love him for it. 

What are your ambitions for your writing career? 

U -To tell the stories people want to see.

T – To make films and to write work that lets me collaborate with as many talented and brilliant people that I can fit into my life. 

S – For me, I want to tell stories visually by directing them, but screenwriting is a necessity just because it is the structural blueprint to that. In “Parlay the Hard Way,” I worked with Uvaldo on a re-write just so that we could be on the same page for translating everything visually. Going forward, I hope to write some more of my own projects and collaborate with talented writers like Uvaldo.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re super excited about? 

U – My next one is quite violent.

S – There’s a couple screenplays Uvaldo has worked on that we are talking over. We are developing a feature film that I’m very excited about. It’s just getting the time and the funding to get it made. But primarily we are just starting to get “Parlay the Hard Way” in front of people and see how they respond!

T – I’m very excited about the rest of my run of Something Rotten! And I look forward to seeing festivals and audience reactions to “Parlay the Hard Way” and then working on a feature soon! 

What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to enter the film industry, especially as a film director? 

U – It’s a marathon not a sprint. Don’t be afraid of failure. 

T – As an actor first, I would say know how to communicate to your actors. Trust that the actors are experts on their characters, if they are making a choice you don’t understand, talk to them and see where they are coming from. That really goes for anyone on set truly, we are all artists doing our own thing. Remember that it is a great collaborative process. Use all of the strengths in the room. 

S – It’s actually incredibly easy to become a film director. Though uh this stays between you and me, okay?… All you gotta do.. is right now… when no one is watching… just start pretending.. to be a film director…. But you gotta make it really convincing so I suggest you really immerse yourself….  Like so much so that you actually make a film. I know it’s a little hard alone, but it doesn’t have to be good, you just gotta have something to sell the con.

To make it easier watch a bunch of film directors of movies you like and just steal as many ideas as you can, but you gotta be sly so mix and match them as much as possible. Not everyone will believe you after the first one, but the ones who do can convince you to help you with your next one and you can make it more convincing. I have some friends who did that enough times that people actually started paying them!! Again…. This stays between you and me, okay?

Can you discuss any future projects or direction you are taking in regard to filmmaking? 

T – I really am interested in playing with the idea of psychological horror. I’m also just looking at writing more. 

U – The next one will be a blood-filled good time. 

S – I really am itching to make a feature, and by the sounds of these two it sounds like its going to be in the horror genre. 

Where can everyone keep up with you to learn more?  

U – My youtube is thenarrator1.

T – The best place to keep most up to date with me is on my Instagram Page @trevormarch or look at my website www.TrevorMarch.com

S – SpencerMead.com

@spencerwmead on Instagram & Twitter

Spencer Mead on Youtube where you can watch all our other work!

Special thanks to the team for taking the time to come visit. Selection team members have been buzzing about this project since it submitted and I’m excited to see what the voting reveals. Good luck to Trevor, Spencer, and Uvaldo when the nominees are announced June 21st.

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