Sometimes, with risk comes reward, and William Tran, senior New Tech High School @ Waskow student, is experiencing this firsthand. The risk: with a determination to branch out of his comfort zone and create a horror film, Tran directed “Sleep Paralysis,” a five-minute short film detailing the terror that comes with a temporary inability to speak or move upon sleeping or waking. The reward: “Sleep Paralysis” was selected as one of 23 high school student films to be featured at the 2020 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in Austin.

“A good artist will always try to branch out; you could be perfect, but the thing is no man is worth so much that they can’t learn a new lesson, so I said that I think it’s time to do something different,” Tran said.

Conditioned to directing martial arts action films, Tran said the horror genre appealed to him as being something new and unexpected. From the early development stage, he considered what subject would be the most frightening and eventually landed on sleep paralysis, which is something he has experienced himself.

“I would think the most scary thing is something that actually exists, so it’s just that we decided to highlight something that really does exist and is a problem,” Tran said. “Not only is it entertaining because everybody loves a good movie, right? But not only is it entertaining, it’s something that’s entertaining while at the same time pointing out something that is a problem, so I feel like that’s one of the greatest films that we’ve made to be honest.”

“Sleep Paralysis” will be shown during the Texas High School Shorts Program screening at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 14 at Rollins Theatre at The Long Center (701 W Riverside Dr.) in Austin and 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 21 at Alamo Lamar (1120 S Lamar Blvd.) in Austin. Tran and his lead actor will be in attendance at the first screening, and the entire cast will be present for the second screening.

“You get to meet us in person, we’re gonna answer your questions directly because we’re going to be there live, so it’s going to be really crazy,” Tran said.

Maggie Maine, Joseph Locklin, Raymond Locklin, Matthew Mastrilli, Mark Williams and Charles Rodarte each played a significant role in the production of “Sleep Paralysis,” and Tran is aware that making a film is not a one person undertaking.

“I hope everybody comes out; I really want people to come out and see the film, and I want to give a huge thanks to everybody who worked on this film,” Tran said.