Actor, director and producer Aaron M. Abelto’s Oscar hopes for short film ‘Evoke’

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Aaron M. Abelto’s new thriller, ‘Evoke’, with its powerful message of family and acceptance, has been making waves in the film industry. Abelto started his career as an actor, but is now best known for writing and directing the 2020 documentary ‘The Power of Movement’. Evoke’ recently began its ‘For Your Consideration’ Oscar campaign in the short live-action category, after Abelto’s previous two films were put forward to be nominated in the feature documentary category. Abelto talks about how he wanted ‘Evoke’ to be more than just a cop buddy drama, and how he’s always striving to meet the high standards of his Hollywood heroes.

Tell us about your short film, ‘Evoke’?

I came up with the concept for ‘Evoke’ a couple of years ago, after finishing my first two films, ‘I Before Thee’ and ‘The Power of Movement’, which are currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. ‘Evoke’ originated as a cop drama about a father and son crime-fighting duo. But then it transitioned into a mystery thriller about remembrance and acceptance. I felt this was important and topical because of the challenging environment we’re living in at the moment. I finally pitched the idea to my executive producer, Rajesh D. Felix. He gave me the green light to start production and I was elated. Production began in early January 2022 in Miami, Florida.

What’s the message behind the film?

‘Evoke’ follows the journey of detectives Cain and Abel, as they investigate the murder of a young woman. They must work together through their differences to solve the case. The main message behind the film is to cherish every moment as if it was your last, because life can change in a blink of an eye. I wanted to raise awareness of the effects of mental health and acceptance. The story of ‘Evoke’ has helped me understand that we all are connected in this world, and we should not take it for granted.

Photo credit: David-Escorcia

Who was involved in the project?

The film stars myself, Tony Torres, Jamil Malik, Leondre Thomas, Kurt Dose, Tatiana Solodka, Roger Torres, Zach Felix, Dontrell Rusley, Bryan G. Thompson and Joshua Felix. Rajesh D. Felix and Sarah E. Felix produced the film. Michael Damon was our sound designer, David Escorcia was director of photography and Akiel Griffith our music supervisor. In fact, the majority of the cast and crew worked on my last film, ‘Iron Temple’, which competed for an Oscar the previous year and is available on Apple TV.

Photo credit: David-Escorcia

How has the film been received?

‘Evoke’ recently began its FYC Oscar campaign, soon after finishing up its theatrical run at Laemmle Theatres in Los Angeles. The film garnered acclaim upon its release from notable critics. One critic dubbed the film “masterful” and believed it could be made into a successful full-length feature, while others praised its story elements, sound design and visuals. 

Why would you love for the film to get nominated for an Oscar?

It would be wonderful to showcase my movie studio Able 2 Film Entertainment, Inc. and to be considered for an Academy Award is a work in progress that I’ve strived towards since adolescence. I’ve always imagined myself competing with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and, in more recent times, Christopher Nolan. It would truly be a dream come true to make it there. ‘Evoke’ has given me the belief that I am one step closer to achieving this goal and I am thankful for the opportunity and for everyone who made it possible. The fact that this is my third consecutive year competing makes this time even more enjoyable. 

Featured photo credit: David Escorcia