Ethan Paisley is a senior at the Marin School of the Arts in Novato and grew up in Petaluma where he acted in theater productions and films from a young age. Now 17, he’s looking at colleges and deciding where his interests in film production will take him in the next few years.

He’s also an experienced filmmaker, with over ten films to his name, including Indelible, which will screen at the upcoming 40th Mill Valley Film Festival. The short film follows a veteran who has returned from war who must manage his PTSD as he adjusts to civilian life.

Paisley found the idea through a school assignment in which he was charged with making a time travel film. “I thought it was a dumb idea at first, but my friend had a grandparent who had just entered counseling for PTSD from serving in the military,” he said. “So we connected through her personal experiences. [The film] was a personal conversation that became a bigger one.”

Having already directed his own films, Indelible wasn’t Paisley’s first foray into the filmmaking world. Following the release of his first feature, The Art of Escape, he developed a production company, Take18, made up of a team of friends and collaborators from the Bay Area.

“We live in a time when making a movie is the easiest thing you can do,” Paisley said. “I picked up a Blackberry phone when I was ten and started making little movies. As a young person you get so many benefits, like having social media at your fingertips. Just use your resources, be resourceful, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want because people love young people who do creative things with lots of energy.”

Creative energy, indeed – Indelible tackles a subject matter that many might consider out of the purview of a high-schooler. That’s the point, Paisley says; it’s important to tell the stories that change the narrative around difficult topics.

“If we change the content of media we can create change throughout the world,” he said. “Beyond creating an emotional connection, [a film can] grow an emotional maturity within you that then is able to go back into the world and make a contribution.”

This will be Paisley’s first time at the Mill Valley Film Festival, and his film will be presented as part of 5@5 shorts program entitled “Future Legend.” “MVFF is a standout festival and it’s an honor to be included,” he said.

Director Ethan Paisley will attend the screening of Indelible at the 40th Mill Valley Film Festival on Tuesday, October 10 at 12:15p at the Lark Theater. He will remain after the film to participate in a Q&A with Festival Programmers and the audience.