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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Three friends bring one vision to life through on-campus film screening

Kobe Arriaga
Nate Wilburn (left), Justyce Padilla (center) and Sebastian Saavedra (right) offer a brief at the screening for “Crabs in a Bucket” as students pile in attendance, Friday, March 1, 2024, at the Department of Theatre and Dance.

Two Texas State students and their mutual friend debuted their thriller drama “Crabs in a Bucket” at the university’s Theatre and Dance Center on March 1. While the film explores self-seeking behaviors, the trio behind the operation used nothing but collaboration and passion to make their dreams possible.

Nate Wilburn, an environmental studies sophomore, and Sebastian Saavedra, a business administration sophomore, became friends and film partners in high school. Justyce Padilla, an Atlantic Cape Community College sophomore, met the pair two years ago at the All-American High School Film Festival in New York.

From then on, “Crabs in a Bucket” was in nonstop production.

“While we were writing, editing and filming [Crabs in a Bucket], we were also working consecutively in three different states,” Saavedra said. “I was in Utah at the time, [Wilburn] was still in Texas and [Padilla] was in New Jersey. After we got done with classes we would hop on the Discord every night and throw out ideas, write scripts and make sure it was as tight as it can be.”

The three quickly began the creative collaborative social media, Iron Waffle Media, where they promoted and collaborated on a few works. The filming process for their project was a process of sharing inspirations, tastes and concepts that took months of innovating and improvising.

“[Saavedra] gave us what looked like the building blocks of what we now know [as the] film. But he presented it to us… to be this big, grandiose thing with multiple characters,” Padilla said. “Then over time, through the process of us figuring out the characters, we just narrowed it down to two [main characters].”

“Crabs in a Bucket” is a euphemism for the collective misery of a group of people due to a person’s jealousy or selfishness. The film is about two men named Andy and Anthony who are tied together through a troubled and dark past. The pair operate a fraudulent cleaning business where they prey on vulnerable citizens with the promise of a free cleaning service.

Wilburn said production processes have a variety of internal and external obstacles, making their big-screen showing all the more rewarding. The equipment needed for the movie was made from scratch; their camera dolly was a plank of wood on skateboard wheels.

Going through post-production work proved to be a learning experience for the group as well. What they learned when screening this film, along with past releases, has impacted how they will continue with Iron Waffle projects moving forward.

“We noticed the soundtrack and the sound mixing; sound editing sounds way different in all different speakers. So Nate has to make a bass mix in order for it to sound good in each speaker,” Saavedra said. “Same with how the movie looks. I’ve learned a lot about color grading and color correction, and I’m still learning about color science and how TVs work.”

This project is much different from their previous works, for the trio, dealing with personal struggles, life changes and earning an education while creating was the greatest labor of love.

“I think that what “Crabs in a Bucket” represents for us is not what we can do. It’s what we could do with the resources that we had and it was born out of limitations that just existed,” Wilburn said. “We would sleep on the floor of my old apartment and just go for well over 12 hours [working]. It’s a mindset of ‘No matter what, do or die.’”

“Crabs in a Bucket” to the trio is a testament to their devotion to the craft and a reflection of their fears, hopes and aspirations. For Saavedra, it’s as if he raised a child. For Nate, it’s an opportunity to have others believe in what he does. For Padilla, it’s a nerve-wracking chance to express himself proudly.

“For a long time in my life until very recently, I didn’t feel heard. I had never felt like people listened to me so art, movies and acting is a way for people to not ignore me,” Padilla said. “Because if you like watching it, then maybe you’ll like to hear what I say too.”

Now, the audience they’ve gained from screening on campus has made it clear that time is of the essence. The rush of support from the community has Iron Waffle and San Marcos excited for what is to come of “Crabs in a Bucket.”

For possible screening times and more information go to https://tinyurl.com/ytcae48n

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