Directed by award-winning filmmaker Wesley Wang, NOTHING, EXCEPT EVERYTHING screened at the Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival. It also screened  at Indy Shorts and the LA Short International Film Festival – both Academy Award-qualifying film festivals. Wang has received recognition for short films “EVE” (2021), which premiered at the LA Short International Film Festival, and “MUTE” (2022), which screened at the Flickers’ Rhode Island Film Festival.

A simple plot premise for this film short: Miles is a high school senior dealing with coming of age issues and challenges one would expect for students in their final year who wade into college applications, licked the wounds of fleeting romantic, unromantic relationships, try to imagine successful fates despite the feeling of impending personal and collective dooms. There’s got to be more to life than slaving away in 9 to 5 jobs after they graduate.

Cinematically, however, NOTHING, EXCEPT EVERYTHING, is in a much higher orbit. Director Wang’s protagonist, Miles, played by David Mazouz, deals with the vexing period of his life about the meaning of life by fixating on the number 7 in a desperate attempt to find order and meaning in the swirl of personal and existential chaos. Miles is in the grip of a growing sense of nihilism, thus, NOTHING, EXCEPT EVERYTHING has a surrealistic as well as a brooding existentialism feel to it.

In these times of Trump, COVIDS, AR-15s, Mass Murders, Climate Change, attacks on Democracy, increasing authoritarianism and signs that the Apocalypse may be just around the corner, Director Wang’s film most certainly is not a typical coming of age flick.

Wang, who was making movies throughout high school, says he worked on Nothing, Except Everything throughout his last year in high school: “This story is by far the most personal I’ve ever told. It seems like now more than ever our generation is caught in a whirlwind of chaos and uncertainty, fighting to stay above ground in a never-ending roller coaster of adventures and memories.” Is Wang, 19, a voice for his generation?

“Fleeting moments of transcendence drift away as fragments of a collective nothingness, leaving each of us searching for some consistent disguise of order buried deep within our shared human experience. With this film, I set out to as authentically and maximally as possible capture that feeling of nothing making sense, and yet everything somehow feeling so damn right.”



NOTHING, EXCEPT EVERYTHING – Directed by award-winning Wesley Wang who was winning awards before he started high school. Starring David Mazouz and Lily Chee. Produced by Scott Aharoni. NOTHING, EXCEPT EVERYTHING won a Grand Jury Prize at Oscar-qualifying Indy Shorts International Film Festival.

Edited for WORD Style and Context

This reviewer tried to ask questions that any serious film aficionado would ask if he, she had the opportunity to Q&A one of the next upcoming, promising American filmmaker.

Director Wesley Wang. Picture courtesy of NOTHING, EXCEPT EVERYTHING publicity



Wesley Wang: Week’s been great. It’s been a lot of fun. The festival was really, really fun. We just screened at the really cool new Fields amphitheater. it was 500 people, sold out screening. We won a jury award.

WORD Editor: What’s this film about.

Wesley Wang: Do you mean just about the plot or about what I think it’s actually about?

WORD Editor: Okay, good point. Filmmakers, like journalists, people writing memoirs and fiction, they draw on their personal experiences to create whatever is that fascinates them. They want to make a statement, they may want to take a stand or something. So when I’m asking you what the film is about, I guess I’m asking about, not just, well, you can give me the plot … but the question is, why did you do this film the way that you did it?

Director Wang & His Co-Stars: David Mazouz on his left, and Lily Chee on his right. Picture courtesy of NOTHING, EXCEPT EVERYTHING publicity.

Wesley Wang: Starting with the plot, it’s about this graduating high school senior who tries to find meaning in the number seven. And he’s trying to come to terms with all these uncertainties about the future and about college, about existential crises that his generation is facing. And he deals with that by trying to find order in all this chaos by finding order in the number seven.

I wanted to approach the film in a kind of – I made the film as a high school senior right after I was accepted at Harvard. And I was thinking about all the things that led me here and how I felt somewhat unfulfilled for some reason.

WORD Editor: What do you mean by unfulfilled? I mean, you got into Harvard, that, that’s, that’s, big. And you wanted to make a film – you were making films in high school. So what do you mean when you say you aren’t fulfilled?

Wesley Wang: “I thought that would be something like, that would explain things to me. That was something that would bring some kind of order. My parents had always told me Harvard, that’s the goal. So I worked my whole, well not all my life, it’s an exaggeration, I worked a lot in my high school career.”

“And then I eventually got in and I was so happy – for like a few days, then afterwards, I was just like, what now? You know what I mean? Like, there’s no meaning. And then I just started thinking back about all the things that got me here and the future that I’m about to lead.”

“And because it’s going to be a very separate life once you go to college, it’s just very, very separate from your high school life where you’re at home, you’re where you’re safe. “And so that’s a kind of huge transition. And so I started thinking about that a lot. And that’s what I’d say what inspired me to make this kind of portrait about this guy struggling with finding some kind of meaning to life.”

{Editor-Writer’s Note: Director Wang cleared up one of this reviewer-writer’s vexations after I explained to him what they were: His protagonist, played by David Mazouz, is dealing with emotional turmoil and worsening nihilistic feelings. I didn’t see anything in the film that was the source for nihilism.  Miles gets along with his family. He has friends at school. He was starting a romance with a gorgeous girlfriend. He seemed to this reviewer that he was in good stead with life because of perks, privileges, fate. He wasn’t born into a hellish ghetto in a high crime neighborhood, for example, and not being bullied at school.}

“I didn’t see what your character had experienced, that pissed him off so much. It wasn’t clear to me why me was so angry considering in the movie he had good experiences with families and friends and schoolmates.  Nothing in his life on screen showed he was missing out on anything. That for me indicated that there were values and stuff that were good to help him to have meaning or at least find it.”

“Because when he was talking (at the commencement exercise scene in the film) … he was really pissed. No, he, no, he wasn’t just pissed, he was fired up and passionately angry. What was I missing?”

Wesley Wang: It’s interesting because I think it’s a generational thing. I think, especially our age, more than ever, there’s an ever increasing sense of nihilism, existentialism. People (his generation) are thinking about these kind of large issues. I think especially with the polarization of the world and more and more things that just feels so chaotic – like climate change – and other things that threaten our lives.”

“I think young people more than ever are thinking about this stuff and like, what is, how do we have any meaning in this life for if all this is just all going on, right? There doesn’t seem to be any order. So, I think we all are thinking something like that.”

“But I also think these are thoughts that people (of his generation) are thinking but they don’t say it out loud, you know what I mean? And I think with culture, like everything everywhere, all at once and just things that are just, it just feels like the theory of entropy, of just things that are … everything grows more chaotic no matter what.

“That’s like the theory of entropy. I just feel like the sentiment that people are feeling now more than ever is just, that’s what they’re thinking. And so when Miles says that, it’s kind of like I think people (audiences) can relate to that.”

{There was no way this writer-reviewer could disagree with him. Generational. Yeah. My imagination opened up a lot more after hearing that.}

WORD Editor: Yeah. The thing about that, that particular scene that was so powerful was that … I can see now how people in the audience or people … could get plugged into what he was raging about. Like they could see what got him so upset. it was, it sort of seems , metaphysical or abstract. I was feeling things that I didn’t see in the film but felt like that they were there. Hmm. I was missing the point.”

Director Wesley Wang, left of the podium, a film tech next him and David Mazouz who plays Miles in the movie. They’re getting ready for a shoot. The scene of Miles raging was powerful … but confusing at first for this reviewer. Picture courtesy NOTHING, EXCEPT EVERYTHING publicity.

“I watched this three or four times. The best films you always want to see more than once because you can miss things. Because each time I saw it, I became a little more aware, viscerally, but I still couldn’t get a grip on it.”

“It was there, it was something audiences could get, could feel and stand up and shout, ‘Yeah, we’re with you.” But I couldn’t see it then. I had a wow experience and wonder why I had that feeling. Hope I’m making sense.

Wesley Wang: “No, no.  it’s funny that I’ve always wanted to make films that, all right, this is another separate thing. Ok. So  <inaudible> originality and accessibility are usually thought to be mutually exclusive in art, in filmmaking and whatever, right? Because whatever is original is usually not accessible because it hasn’t been done before.”

“And people usually like to, you know, there’s a thing that, there’s an archetype that kind of works for stories and characters. And things that are accessible are usually not original because they’ve been done before many times. But what I’m trying to explore is always this kind of subconscious that we have in our brains, that hasn’t been explored before, that can reach everyone – but hasn’t been explored either.”

“And so with a lot of the stuff I want to do is do what apparently you felt. I want to deliver that thing that activates something in the brain, like yeah, that sounds so vaguely familiar.”

“It’s like a transcendental kind of feeling that’s like, I feel that, you know what I mean? But you can’t explain why. So the whole (film) title I feel encompasses that kind of emotion of nothing except everything. Like, nothing makes sense, but at the same time, everything makes so much sense. So, yeah.”

WORD Editor: “You’re a filmmaker. Big time filmmaking. So how are you going to be able to do that and four years of Harvard at the same time? And you’re already working on a feature film.”

{I’m paraphrasing Wang’s response. He will be taking selective classes. He is studying economics at Harvard. STEM courses would demand a lot more.}

“If I had to do another undergraduate degree or even if I could do some kind of tutorial, I would do economics. I encourage my journalism students to consider degrees and courses in economics and fine arts because I believe those studies can enhance the monetary aspects of their journalism careers. More money will help them have more freedom.”

{How did he come around to making the movie. “The driveway scene,” Wang said. Briefly, his main protagonist, Miles, played by David Mazouz and Miles’ love interest, played by Lily Chee, are at the end of the date and she had just drove him home and they’re trying to figure out how to end the evening, resulting in an awkward moment. Just say goodbye? Polite peck on the cheek? A really goodnight kiss?}

Wesley Wang: “The one thing that triggered it was actually the driveway scene, literally, I had that whole experience, like that whole, awkward kissing scene. That happened to me literally. And, so, I wrote it down because I thought it was funny, but I was like, this is embarrassing. I’m never going to  show it to anyone. But then, some people I sent it to said this is hilarious, like, Ishould actually make this into something.”

“So then I started expanding upon it, just putting my most  inner thoughts about, you know, things that are embarrassing to me or things that I just thought like stupid or whatever. I just put them onto the page and then people really respond to that. So,  yeah, it was a very, very personal and very autobiographical story, honestly.”

{I asked him about his protagonist’s fixation on the Number 7. Wang did research the way an investigative philosopher would; 7 has been a special number throughout the ages. He didn’t just make it up. 7 is special. }

Yeah. So in his speech, in the script about why do most people choose the Number 7. It’s such an arbitrary thing. Usually 10 percent of people choose 1. 10 percent choose 2. 10 percent would choose 3e, and it’s like 10 percent across the board. But for some reason 7 is chosen like 28 percent of the time. And so like, why is that such a random thing? But so many people choose 7. So he tries to find some sign kind of meaning in that, in this kind of arbitrary chaos of  the universe. He tries to use that as a representation of the universe. And he tries to find some kind of meaning in the number 7.”


End Part 1 of 2. Click link for Part 2.


Gregg W. Morris can be reached at,