Shared from the 6/3/2018 LUBBOCK AVALANCHE-JOURNAL eEdition


Lubbock native Hale making long strides with film in just 18 months


Aaron Hale, a working musician turned filmmaker in Austin, laughs out loud when asked if he always wanted to be a singer-songwriter, or had he first juggled other goals.

Calling himself “100 percent right-brained,” he said he never thought ahead about a future career before graduating from Lubbock Cooper High School in 2000, where he was student council president. This, by the way, is where he was voted “Best Personality” and “Easiest to Fall in Love With” by his senior class, neither of which guarantees employment.

Oh, he took theater courses and loved acting. Having studied piano at age 4 and written songs since high school, he also felt an affinity for singing and making music. But an actual career ... like something a grown-up might consider?

“I just wanted to do something I loved,” he said, “but I wasn’t sure what direction I’d go.”

At 35, a husband and father of two, he recently directed his first short film, called “Clementine,” 11 minutes and 28 seconds long.

The project originally was designed as an actor’s demo-reel. But according to those who have seen it, the film emerged as something much more — to the point that, with the help of supportive friends, “Clementine” has been submitted to more than two dozen film festivals.

As for the film’s story, Hale calls it a “comedic mockumentary with dramatic overtones.” Suffice it to say that a husband and wife are being interviewed, separately, about their overall marriage. Yet it is safe to say that few, if any, viewers will predict a twist that emerges near the end.

Keep in mind the need for a demo-reel, as Hale said, “When I was writing it, I was asking myself how I could play multiple characters without this turning into ‘The Nutty Professor.’”

As for Hale’s personal story, it would take him more than a decade to even gain the courage to audition and act, much less write and direct.

Rather, the Lubbock native first “wasted a year” at Angelo State University, rarely attending class. When his parents “urged” him to become serious, he earned an Associate’s Degree in commercial music at South Plains College, opting to become a solo artist and tour as a singer-songwriter. He gradually gained a positive reputation for working with churches and, even now, also maintains bookings a month ahead of time as a “visiting, interim worship leader” at varied churches.

“Churches hire me to fill in and work with their bands on Sunday mornings,” he explained.

Nevertheless, throughout his 20s, he focused on his original music, saying, “I’ve had some success in that world. I released several albums, toured the country and some of my songs were used in TV and movies. But I think a love of film was always with me, since I was very young.”

When he toured, “playing a little Christian, a little indie rock,” he questioned the feasibility of chasing “two impossible dreams,” and stuck with music.

Then he met Heather, also a Lubbock native, although she was working at Hallmark’s home office in Kansas City, Missouri, at the time. They fell in love, married in 2007 and decided to start a family. Sons Arthur and Golden are 7 and 5, respectively.

When Hale reached his 30s, he vowed to pursue acting over music -- but it still would be January 2017 before he made the plunge.

First problem: He was nervous about approaching his wife regarding his desire for a career change. Hale even began booking auditions without telling her, and had no credible answer when she discovered his newly printed head shots.

As it turned out, Heather, a graphic designer and creative director for an Austin company, remained supportive. Hale said, “She actually liked the idea of me pursuing film and acting rather than music. There are not necessarily more opportunities but, once you get a role, you get paid. You can’t say the same for every music gig.”

Plus, cutting back as a touring musician left him home more with his family.

Few could have predicted the strides made by Hale in 18 months. With a gift of gab and that “best personality” from high school, networking came easily. He landed three roles from his first six auditions and, within six months had an agent, Jorge Elizondo of TAG Talent.

Mind you, Elizondo once explained Hale’s “different” look: “You’re not ugly, but you’re not good looking. I see you playing someone’s buddy, or a dad.”

Hale decided he’d also better create some roles for himself.

“If a person has no shame, commercials are perfect,” said Hale. “They always ask you to do such silly things.” He modeled for a photo shoot and a print advertisement featuring Hale eating a candy bar made its way from Times Square and New York City’s subway south to Texas.

He acted with Allison Day, costar of “Clementine,” in a “pretty awful student film.” He played a “cannibal serial killer.”

His first role in a feature is as “Steve, a drunk dad at a party” in writer-director Lex Lybrand’s “Maybe Shower.” That film found a national distributor, said Hale, after winning Best Feature Film at the Portland Comedy Film Festival and Best Screenplay at the Austin Comedy Film Festival.

Changing careers in 2017, Hale earned five projects that year and already seven more this year, in addition to “Clementine.”

The latter was born of a Catch-22: “I needed a demo-reel to get more roles, but how do I make a demo-reel without more roles?”

Kansas City filmmaker Ross Wooten, a friend, said he would bring a crew to Austin and film whatever short film Hale wrote.


Lubbock native Aaron G. Hale, now of Austin, said that viewers have been surprised by the twist in his short film “Clementine,” and he has entered it in more than two dozen film festivals. After more than a decade playing music professionally, Hale turned to acting and filmmaking only 18 months ago. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

“Clementine” was written in 24 hours in November 2017. Shooting took three days in January. With almost no budget, it took months to find an original piano score and finish editing. With the film in the can, dozens have agreed to invest in the form of festival submission costs. From there, Hale made submissions online using and

Hale said, “Granted, I am new to this. ... I feel ‘Clementine’ is special and unique. If it makes its way into just a few festivals, I’ll be thrilled.”

His biggest praise was unexpected. Hale said his parents have grown used to him growing excited about potential projects, and blowing them off two weeks later.

“They know me too well,” he said, “and they are always straightforward.”

So he was surprised when his father called and told him that his short film “made me cry ... and I never cry at movies.”

“Granted, I am new to this. ... I feel ‘Clementine’ is special and unique. If it makes its way into just a few festivals, I’ll be thrilled.”
Aaron Hale, Filmmaker

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