Share This

Indie Filmmaker in Focus: Zach Passero

April 25, 2023

One of my favorite parts of film festival programming is a process that unfolds months before the festival takes place, when I conduct research on upcoming indie genre productions that may be a good fit for the program.

This is how I first discovered The Weird Kidz last year shortly after it premiered at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. Initially, I was drawn by the concept and the names attached – an animated creature feature, coming-of-age film produced by Lucky McKee and voiced in part by Angela Bettis and Sean Bridgers, some of my personal favorites in the indie genre world.

I became even more intrigued when I learned that director Zach Passero had spent eight years hand animating the film, working in conjunction with his wife, Hannah, who painted the backgrounds. With one of the lead characters also voiced by Passero’s sister, The Weird Kidz was a family effort, and appropriately so, given its conception.

“The spark came when my wife and I found out we were pregnant with our first child,” says Passero. “I started getting really nostalgic and I started to think about the childhood I’d had, the kind of childhood I hoped my child would have. All these memories started coming back about my friends and the adventures we had, real or imagined.”

Since he and his wife had worked together on several shorter animations, Passero thought the film could be a fun project they could develop as they prepared to start their own family, a creative sort of “nesting.”

By the time the production was complete their family had not only expanded to include their first child, but a second child, both of whom had spent years watching their parents complete their labor of love. “Once I started writing and drawing these characters it became this thing that I wanted to do and had to do. I had to see it through,” Passero says.