Toby Halbrooks is on a roll. The local film producer and director is an integral part of the film community quietly earning Dallas a reputation. For the second year in a row, Halbrooks will return to Sundance Film Festival in 2014 with two projects. Last year he co-produced Shane Carruth's stunning film Upstream Color and produced David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints. For 2014, he will travel to the festival as a producer of Listen Up Philip, which stars Jason Schwartzman and Elisabeth Moss, as well as for Dig, a short film he wrote and directed.
"I was already planning to attend the festival as a producer," Halbrooks says during a phone call the day after Christmas. "But Dig is the first film I've done where I'm responsible for the full narrative."
For his first short film, Halbrooks collaborated with local artists such as Daniel Hart of Dark Rooms, who composed the music, Annell Brodeur, who designed the costumes, and David Lowery, who is one of the producers. The 10-minute film explores the connection between a father and a daughter as she watches him dig a hole in their backyard. Other members of the neighborhood begin to share her fascination with the hole he's digging. According to Halbrooks, it's a story about a child's efforts to understand the adult world.
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"It doesn't really matter why he's digging," Halbrooks explains. "It's a story about how to a child even the most mundane task can seem magical."