Herbert Midgley is no stranger to being in front of a camera.
The SFA music professor has racked up more than 8.7 million views for the 4,500 or so videos on his YouTube channel, which boasts more than 5,000 followers, but he hopes his latest endeavor goes a little further than what he’s done so far.
Midgley’s most recent project, a 9-minute short film titled “On the Brick Streets of Nacogdoches” is among hundreds submitted to Amazon for its All Voices Film Festival competition.
“It definitely is really cool,” Midgley said. “You’re on there with all these big Hollywood films.”
The contest was designed by the internet retail behemoth and online streaming entertainment service to showcase traditionally under-represented communities through short films. The company set broad requirements for submissions.
“The writer, director, cast or theme of the short must reflect underrepresented communities,” according to Amazon. “This includes but is not limited to people of color, ethnic, gender and religious minorities, members of the LGBTQI community, people with disabilities, veterans, young, aspiring filmmakers as well as older adults, and other groups that are underrepresented or marginalized in the US or globally.”
Midgley said his film meets those criteria because it features performers, like himself, who are older.
The film tells the story of a street cop, played by Midgley, who sets out to investigate who’s peddling bootleg copies of a movie called “Rise of the Robots,” which Midgley made and released in 2015, that cause DVD players to explode.
The film imitates 1970s crime dramas, specifically the television series “The Streets of San Francisco,” which aired from 1972 to 1977, with the kind of dry, absurd humor Midgley’s YouTube videos — on subjects like how to start a car, how to walk past a construction site, and how to chew gum —are packed with. In fact, Midgley grew out a bushy mustache in homage to the 1970s specifically for the film, he said.
Throughout the short, which takes place entirely at night, Midgley sports his mustache, brown leather jacket and aviator-style sunglasses while munching away on the same doughnut and interviewing the shadier characters populating Nacogdoches.
Amazon offers a $25,000 royalty bonus to the winner of the competition, as well as a trip to see the company studio in Culver City, California. Four other winning filmmakers will get a $10,000 royalty bonus each, according to the company.
The winning films are initially selected based on Amazon Prime customer engagement — how many watch them, for how long and how they’re rated on the site — before being narrowed down and selected by Amazon leadership in July. The viewing period runs through June 24, according to the company.
Midgley said he believes all it would take for “On the Streets of Nacogdoches” to make the top 10 is a little help from the community.
“If everybody in Nacogdoches saw this film, I’d definitely make it to the top 10,” he said.
Amazon Prime members can view the film at OnTheBrickStreets.com.