Former Wilton resident rises as director

For former Wilton resident Nate Hapke, happiness is a warm movie theater audience.

“I found out yesterday that my most recent completed film, Brunch, is going to be in the Short Film Corner of Cannes this year,” the 27-year-old Hapke said during an interview earlier this month.

He now lives in Los Angeles and works as a production associate and training to be an associate director for the TV soap General Hospital, which pays the bills and just got him nominated for an Emmy award.  (He has since won the award.) But his long-term dream is to write and direct feature films.

That’s why he has a crowdsourced funding drive going for his latest project, Slate, about an aspiring actress who is going for an audition and who has the confidence within herself to know her worth is not based on the acceptance of others.

The message of the movie is self-love, which is the most important love to have, Hapke said.

“At the end of the movie it’s ambiguous whether she gets the acceptance, but along the way, she is someone who is full of self-fulfillment and self-love, whether or not she gets the film. She can parlay the role into bigger things, true, but she is spending time with herself.”

There is a place in her brain she takes herself to in the moments before an audition. “It’s an idea of being able to look at her process. There’s one line she gives herself — ‘I love you,’ she says to a mirror. She is enough, and knows she is enough,” Hapke said.

To donate to the drive, go to and look up Slate. “Even spreading the word about it on social media would be helpful,” he said.

Hapke lived in Wilton from 1989 to 2004, before moving to upstate New York and then studying at Syracuse University, where he got a bachelor’s degree in film, radio and TV.

It was at college where he first got a camera in his hand. He had long been a writer of short stories, and found that making short films was a new way to tell stories. He loved it and has made eight short films since graduating. Some of them have appeared at prestigious film festivals, including Cannes.

When he was a teenager, his dream was to be an actor. That was before he experienced creativity from the other side of the tripod.

“I got a few callbacks, nice feedback, until one audition at Columbia University for a feature film. This role was perfect, about a kid who is bullied at a summer camp, and finds he is not always going to be fat, and it is who he is on the inside that will matter in 10 years.”

He credits his mother for being supportive of his show business aspirations.

“My mom has been supportive since day one. I told her I wanted to act, and she said, ‘Let’s figure it out.’ She drove me to New York City, parked the car, and we walked into the waiting room for the audition.”

He’s been consistently making two to three short films a year, getting into the film festivals.

“And hopefully I will be writing and directing feature films,” Hapke said.

No matter how far he gets, though, he’ll always remember Wilton.

“I miss the times when my family was there in Wilton,” Hapke said. “I started at Wilton High School, and would have been a member of the Class of 2007. My heart is still in Connecticut.”

Hapke’s first post-grad film premiered in the Short Film Corner of Cannes, back in 2015. That film can be viewed here:

His films can be seen at

His directing reel can be seen here: