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Black Pumas Singer Eric Burton Stars in Short Film ‘Devexity’

The sci-fi short explores the theme of reality versus simulation

As our lives become increasingly virtual we’re often left to question: what’s the real world and what’s reality? “Devexity,” a new short film by Austin-area writer and director Luke Lidell probes further into this inquiry. The sci-fi thriller is set in a series of different worlds and time periods. Eric Burton, lead-singer of the Grammy-nominated band Black Pumas, stars as the film’s protagonist.

“Devexity” is Burton’s first film acting role, though the Black Pumas front man has worked with Lidell in the past. The two met in 2017 while Lidell was filming one of Burton’s music performances, and have since become collaborators on numerous projects together.

Eric Burton and Luke Lidell at a recent private screening of “Devexity.” Photo by Amy Price.

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Liddell wrote the script for “Devexity” with Burton in mind as the lead, and shot the film in four consecutive days in October of 2020. The result is an unconventional work of art that challenges viewers to think about the world around them in different ways. Tribeza spoke with Lidell and Burton about the stunning piece, discussing their inspirations, the film’s themes and their advice for aspiring artists.

Can you give a basic overview of what the film is about?

Luke Lidell: It’s hard to explain without giving away too much, but it’s basically a detective story that explores new worlds through a lens that dives into virtual reality.

Luke, what inspired you to create a story that questions our reality or takes place in a different reality?

LL: I think it’s inevitably coming with the technology that’s upon us. I wanted to explore where that’s going and what that could mean to different relationships, as people get lost in these worlds.

Behind the scenes of making the film.

What would you like audiences to take away from this story?

Eric Burton: The prospect that we’re living multiple realities at once and that we have the power to choose our own adventure, so to speak.

The film takes place in both nostalgic and futuristic settings, what were some of your inspirations?

LL: The story started out as being this old 1930s detective film noir. I just thought it would be a really cool contrast with the future, with the future trying to go back to this past world that was in black and white. We explore various nostalgic film worlds through the film.

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The reality-bending film was shot in different locations around Austin.

Eric, similar to how the film takes place in different worlds, you made a switch from the music world to the film world for “Devexity.” Can you talk about that intersection?

EB: It was amazing to delve into a few different worlds. This process was really special for me. I met Luke a few years before making the film, and when I first met him we were making something together. We were living our own separate lives and existing in different realities, to the one reality where we’re making things together, and reflecting on other aspects of our lives individually as filmmakers and partners.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

EB: I think my biggest advice to anyone, especially artists, is to remain present. Remain present with the love that you have for creating, and don’t be so attached to the idea of what you think the externalities should be. It’s just about getting out of the way, and being in love making things, so that what comes from your heart touches someone else.

LL: That’s beautiful. I say just keep chasing your passion no matter what and it really unfolds for you in a unique and surprising way. If what you care about really matters to your life then pursue it. It’ll be hard work for a while, but the hard work will pay off in the end.

Audiences will be able to catch “Devexity” at upcoming film festivals and enjoy the short film on a streaming platform that will be announced at a later date. Watch the official trailer and receive updates here.