23-year-old Dallas native scores with award-winning debut movie

A former youth basketball player, Dallas-native Cooper Raiff is a firm believer in getting your shot.

Raiff says he has always been “obsessed with movies” but had no prior filmmaking experience when he made a 50-minute short film while studying at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Even so, Raiff decided to tweet a YouTube link of the film to actor-producer Jay Duplass (Transparent).

A day later, Duplass and Raiff had lunch. The producer encouraged Raiff to turn the short film into a feature film, so Raiff shot more shots.

Using a string of Instagram DMs, the 23-year-old filmmaker recruited young actors Dylan Gelula (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and Logan Miller (Love, Simon) to make a film called S — house, about a lonely student from Dallas and his unlikely romance with an assistant.

Logan Miller (left) and Cooper Raiff play the lead roles in “S — house”. Raiff recruited Miller through direct messages on Instagram.(IFC films)

The film, which premieres on Friday, October 16, on VOD and in selected cinemas, won the coveted award for best narrative film when it premiered on SXSW. Critics have praised the natural feel of the film, and IndieWire’s David Ehrlich called it “a promising debut from someone with a clear knack for personalizing shared experiences.”

Personalization was important to Raiff, who infused the script with endless ums and ahs and constantly reminding his actors to speak as naturally as possible.

“I wanted you to feel like everything happened somewhere,” says Raiff. “I wanted it to feel like an authentic human story because that’s the kind of movie I love. It’s the kind of movie I always want to make. “

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