Every once in a while a project comes along you’re compelled to work on regardless of budget, time, resources, or any other constraint. You simply have to be a part of it, and any barrier to you doing so becomes a secondary concern—mere background noise.

I AM TX’, a new film by Austin-based writer and director Ryan Darbonne, happens to be one of those. The short follows a trio of black punk musicians as they explore what it means to be immersed in a progressive, yet predominantly white, music scene while still having to navigate the world as a person of color. Ryan’s description of the project, and what it means, lays it out it better than I possibly could:

“Growing up alternative in Austin, I was always (with very few exceptions) the only person of color in my social circles. I was a kid with an affinity for Slipknot and Blackstreet; I was Afro-punk before I knew the word existed. As I got older, I began to feel increasingly alienated because I could never be just one of the cool kids. I always had to be the cool ‘black kid’. And there could be only one. Telling this story is important to me because I want to give a glimpse into what it’s like living two lives; to straddle both sides of the track and never truly feel accepted by either one.”

This resonated with me on basically every level. I grew up a punk- and hardcore-loving kid in Puerto Rico at a time when the dominant culture was still largely insular, then later spent my formative years in Boston hanging out at basement shows as usually (with very few exceptions) the only Latino in the room. I’ve experienced firsthand what it’s like straddling the line between two worlds and never quite feeling like you belong in either. Needless to say, I was onboard from the moment Ryan approached me about creating key and promo art for his film.

The image we collaborated on, loosely based on the historic ’A Great Day in Harlem’ portrait and adapted to fit the tone and setting of the film, has quickly become a favorite. I’m really looking forward to seeing it out in the wild as the film’s production and marketing kick into gear.

To learn more about I AM TX and support independent filmmaking, click here.