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Wayne is the eccentric alter ego of a young man trying to avoid his relationship ending in a train wreck. The short film narrative was an official selection of MIFF 2022 in the best student film category. The film is directed by Aaron Rota, Matthew Raponi.

Aaron Rota (Left) grew up just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. His mother, a Hollywood Award-winning underwater cinematographer, exposed Aaron to the film industry at an early age. Kicking off his professional career in acting and stunts, he appeared in films (Fantastic Four), television shows (Supernatural) and commercials (Save on Foods). Growing up, Aaron imagined worlds and stories that he often had trouble pulling away from, leading him to create films. His last short "1968" was an official selection at dozens of film festivals around the world, including the San Francisco Black Film Festival, the Toronto Black Film Festival and the Regina International Film Festival. Recently, Aaron received his BFA in Film Production from Ryerson University and started a production company with his brother titled "Rota Productions."

Matthew Raponi (right) is a Director from Vancouver, British Columbia, with a love for storytelling and intimate drama. In 2014 he graduated from the Film Studies Program at Ryerson University. Throughout his works he always strives for deep personal connections with his characters, allowing his audience to fully immerse themselves. His work has also been chosen as a “Programmer Favourite” in the Toronto Independent Film Festival. From short films, to music videos, to big budget television, his attention to detail and love for cinema has also allowed him to succeed in the field of Special Effects. You can see examples of his work in shows like Star Trek: Discovery (2018) and The Umbrella Academy (2019); in his previous short What Other People Say (2016); or through music videos such as Soul Brother (2020) by Morpheus Richards.

Director Statements:

Aaron Rota: What is your inner voice saying to you right now? While I was growing up, mine often wouldn’t shut up when it came to relationships and girls. After an important relationship of mine ended, I became very critical of myself, scrutinizing many things about who I am. I was convinced that there was an aspect of me that was ‘bad’, and couldn't be loved or appreciated. I still wanted to find a partner and be in a relationship, so I was desperate to hide these parts of myself, as I saw them to be detrimental, which brought me to the idea of this film; someone struggling to find love, while paradoxically being unable to love themselves.

Thanks to the medium of film, I am able to present this inner struggle by having the protagonist Peter up against a physical antagonist Wayne, who lives inside of him. Being that Wayne is a negative projection of Peters, he comes off as a masculine, alpha male villain. As the film goes on, we begin to reveal more about Wayne, exploring different aspects of him that Peter is neglecting to see. In the present, Peter is attempting to build a new relationship. However, his past experiences have created resentment towards Wayne. As things become more intimate in Peter’s life, this damaged relationship he has with himself begins to seep into his actual relationship, causing it to fall apart.

I have a passion for this subject because I feel that many stories are about a character finding love, whereas I wanted to focus on the idea of self-love, and explore its importance and the impact it has on their relationships. I hope this film will speak to those who are struggling with their inner voice and are seeking a healthy relationship… with others and themselves.

Matthew Raponi: Wayne is a film that explores the struggles of sex and identity. It examines and parodies the North-American alpha-male persona, to explore the difficulties of forming romantic relationships in a society where self-esteem is a commodity. Our main character, Peter, exemplifies someone who fears intimacy because of vulnerability. With his Alter Ego, Wayne, we give a voice to the countless thoughts that rule our minds through this fear, and drive us to hide within ourselves. Using a surrealist lens, we dive in the mind of our character, and explore the compartmentalization of his trauma.

Through the framework of a person’s romantic history, we can see how this fear can hurt ourselves as much as it can hurt others. Whether it be the cause of a breakup, or the reason for social anxiety, intimacy is often desired, but few are capable of in the face of poor self-worth. As we explore the past milestones in a person's life that can fracture their confidence, we hope to illuminate the tragedy and absurdity of a world that constantly makes people re-evaluate themselves.


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