It's not often that southwest Virginia residents have an opportunity to audition for a film, especially one directed by a Sundance award-winning filmmaker. Local actors take notice: Paul Harrill, a new assistant professor of communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, is currently looking to cast his latest project entitled Quick Feet, Soft Hands. The short film follows Jim, a young minor league baseball player, and Lisa, his fiancé, who supports the two of them.

Quick Feet, Soft Hands is a co-production of Lovell Films and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Out of the 14 projects being funded by ITVS during this call for submissions, Quick Feet, Soft Hands was the only fiction project selected from 400 submissions.

“I've been working on the script, off and on, for a few years,” said Harrill, who not only writes and produces but teaches film production at Virginia Tech. “The original inspiration was that I wanted to make a movie where the main character played a sport for a living, in this case baseball, but in which the focus wasn't on the field, but off the field.” Harrill admits that the project has changed a fair amount since he started working on it, but the “kernel remains largely unchanged.”

In the plot, both Jim and Lisa have skipped college to pursue Jim’s dream of playing pro ball, but when he falls into a massive batting slump, the couple faces an uncertain future – one in which major leagues dreams may never come true.

Harrill’s work has appeared at film festivals and on televisions around the world. Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 new Faces of Independent Film,” Harrill’s awards include the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival for “Gina, an Actress, Age 29.” That film tells the story of a budding actress in Knoxville, Tennessee, who is hired to bust a union-organizing effort at a local factory.

Knoxville, incidentally, is Harrill’s hometown, and was also home to three of the four major actors in that appeared in Gina. That film was financed by an Aperture film grant and not only won at Sundance but was accepted into internationally famous festivals in Rotterdam and Clermont-Ferrand (France).

Harrill will be conducting auditions for Quick Feet, Soft Hands in Blacksburg on Nov. 4-5 and in Roanoke on Nov. 17-18. Anyone interested in auditioning should email him for more information.

Harrill, a resident of Roanoke, received his undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee and his Master's of Fine Arts from Temple University.