Houston film festival

The promotional poster for Central Magnet alumnus’ Zavior Phillips movie ‘Inconvenience’.

A college kid walks into a convenience store — and, in the director’s words, “chaos ensues.”

“It escalates to crazy levels very quickly,” said Central Magnet High School alumnus Zavior Phillips, who wrote, co-directed and starred in “Inconvenience”, a comedic short film about a trip to the convenience store gone awry.

The film recently debuted at the Houston Comedy Film Festival. It was a finalist in its category and Phillips was a finalist for best actor.

“I guess the Oscar will be any day now,” he joked.

The current University of Chicago student was more than a little surprised to find out the film was selected.

“We hadn’t heard anything for a while. I think at that point I’d kind of been like, ‘Oh, OK.’ Because it was my first one and I didn’t know.”

Then during finals week, he and lead director Ellen Askey got the good news. But Phillips missed the showing due to studies in sunny Spain.

“I’m actually a public policy major, which is what I’m studying here in Barcelona.”

Phillips is taking advantage of every opportunity he can during his college career, both within his major and beyond it — including improv and filmmaking groups.

In high school Phillips was involved in performing arts and also produced a satirical school news show called “Mag Swag Newz”.

A benefit of rolling up those sleeves and getting involved? Learning by doing.

“There’s so much that goes into (filmmaking) that I never really appreciated until after,” Phillips said. “When to use a certain lens, when to cut at a certain time, all that stuff that really is an important part of storytelling that I never appreciated until really getting to experience it myself.”

He credits the lead director, Askey, with guiding him through behind-the-scenes work and technical decisions after their film club decided to take on his project. Phillips had written a scene just for fun, then turned it into a 15-page script and brought it to the group.

One of his favorite sequences features a courteous robber who waits his turn.

“My character kind of calls him out, like ‘Why on earth would you wait in line to rob the store?’ He just didn’t want to cut anyone.

“The dichotomy of not wanting to be rude, but also like, ‘Oh yeah, give me all your money,’ I just thought was really fun.”

The film is still being considered for other festivals, but Phillips hopes to share it with a wider audience online soon. In the meantime, he will continue creating. While “Inconvenience” was in production he wrote his second script.

“That one’s called ‘Don’t Kill Will’ .” He describes it as “a horror film with comedic sensibilities.”

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