An Interview with Eli Newman and his New Short Film “Concrete”, Starring Ed Harris

Ed Harris as seen in the short film "Concrete"

At The Film Fund, we’re all about shining a light on indie filmmakers with big ideas and projects on their hands. And recently, we reached out to one of the previous winners of The Film Fund’s short film funding contest, Eli Newman. He won with his pitch for a science-fiction short film “Concrete”, starring Ed Harris (The Truman Show, Apollo 13). A trailer for the film just dropped. So, we thought that this would be a great time for Eli to talk about the movie, filmmaking, and more. Keep on reading for an inspiring story and an enlightening look behind the scenes of this amazing short film!

• Introduce yourself to us!

“Hi, I’m Eli. I’m a filmmaker from Chicago, now living in LA. I won the Film Fund Summer Narrative Contest for 2022 with my pitch for a short called ‘Concrete.’”

• How did you get involved in filmmaking?

“I grew up on the same block as a Blockbuster, and my dad showed me a lot of very R-rated 70s movies as a kid. I saw Alien at a very young age and that one just rewired everything in my brain. Around 13 years old I got a laptop and got addicted to going through IMDB. That was my extracurricular… No sports, no clubs, not even really watching a ton of movies, just collecting info on IMDB, imagining what a lot of those movies were like. Eventually I got around to actually watching movies again and reading books, and fell in love with storytelling.”

Ed Harris and some members of the crew for "Concrete" on set talking with one another.

• How did you come up with the idea for “Concrete”?

“I was in a serious Philip K. Dick phase, just reading everything I could get my hands on of his, and experiencing a lot of weird synchronicities with his life and his novels. I wanted to write something with his constant reality-doubting and his neurotic sense of humor. And I’ve always loved the clunky retrofuturism of 60s, 70s and 80s sci fi movies.”

• How did you learn about The Film Fund?

“Google, I think. I liked the challenge of having to pitch my project in one sentence.”

Four members of the crew of the film "Concrete" surrounding a camera on set.

• How would you describe “Concrete” to a potential viewer?

“I suck at this. I’d tell them it’s a weird sci-fi black comedy about a guy who suffers a head injury, and Ed Harris is in it.”

• What was your reaction after you found out you won?

“I’ve been writing stuff my whole life and Film Fund was the first time I’d ever won anything for something I’d written, so it was massively encouraging.”

The four members of the crew of "Concrete" on set and smiling at the camera.

• What has it been like working with Ed Harris on this film?

“Ed’s a mensch. He does these smaller projects knowing that his involvement helps us get funding and viewership, but he still brings his all to it. Having a seasoned actor and director like him on set for your first day of shooting just gets people so excited. Watching a guy at that level show up to a rehearsal day on a micro-budget short film and really dig into the character and the scene cuts against all of the negativity you hear about this industry. He just loves movies.”

• What has been the biggest challenge of this film?

“Funding, so thank you guys for helping us out on that front. Shooting anything in LA can be expensive. Add to that the production design demands of sci-fi, and the fact that I wrote way too many locations into my script. It took a minute to get there. But Concrete’s producers, Annika & Lily, brought so many killer folks on board to help elevate the project, including our Production Designer Hanrui Wang, who was able to do so much with so little time.”

Ed Harris behind-the-scenes getting his make-up done for the film "Concrete".

• What pointers would you give to up-and-coming filmmakers?

“Finish your projects.”

• Is there anything else you’d like to add or say as we wrap up?

“Nothing comes to mind. Thank you guys!”

Four cast and crew members of the film "Concrete" talking while one points to the side.

That’s a Wrap!

Thanks to Eli for his responses to our questions! Like we said earlier, we love highlighting filmmakers, and getting to hear about the amazing work that they can accomplish with our help is always inspiring. Best wishes go out to Eli and the cast and crew of “Concrete” as the film approaches release. You can check out the trailer for the film “Concrete”, starring Ed Harris. You can also head on over to the film’s Instagram account as well and give them a follow.

Finally, we’d like to extend a helping hand to you! If you have a promising short film but need a bit of extra funding, we may have you covered. If you win our short film funding contest, you could earn up to $10,000 in funding for your short film production. As Eli said, to get started it just takes one sentence. No full script required. Head on over to our entry page to learn more. And if you’re more interested in feature film funding, check out our new feature film funding opportunity, Unknown Nightmare, for the chance to have your own feature film funded!