PGA Diversity Workshop

2020 has been a tough year so far. But I did receive some good news.  I’ll be part of the 2020 Producers Guild of America Power of Diversity Master Workshop!

I’m very thankful for Elesha Barnette.  We met at the 2011 UCLA Professional Program in Producing.  She’s not only a producer, but also a wonderful writer, director, production designer – I’ve seen her in action on the “Last Life” series and she is amazing! .  Then she sent her feature script to me – “The International Sweethearts of Rhythm” a story inspired by the lives of the all girl swing band that performed from the late 1930s to the early 1950s.  I fell in love with her script.

And I couldn’t stop researching more and more about the lives of the real women.  I can’t believe I’ve never heard of them before.  They broke box office records and played opposite jazz greats, even though they had so much against them (they came from a poor economic background, were women, majority women of color, in a segregated time).  Their story must be told!

I’m also thankful to Patriot Pictures for financing diverse, inclusive, untold stories and supporting females and people of color.

Thank you Producers Guild of America and the Diversity Mentor Team!  I can’t wait to learn more from you over the next few months and get this story on screen to audiences!!!

More about the program:

Election Night, an award winning dramedy

A politician’s family waits in the green room on election eve – will the speech be a celebration or a concession? The last 350 votes have yet to come in, and the nerves rattle the family into a comic whirlwind of wild theories, long-held secrets, and a revelation that nobody saw coming. 



election-night-laurels-allELECTION NIGHT has been selected by extraordinary festivals around the world and has won awards, which include: Cannes Film Festival Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the American Pavilion, DC ShortsFest, Florida Film Festival, Hollyshorts, International Festival of Women – Jakarta (Award of Excellence), Los Angeles Comedy Festival, Melbourne Queer Film Festival, Sarasota Film Festival, Seattle ShortsFest, Toronto Inside Out, USA Film Festival (Special Jury Award).


Chosen as one of eight projects to participate in AFI’s prestigious Directing Workshop for Women, the film was directed by Tessa Blake and was written by Blake & her husband, Ian Williams, Produced by Catherine Dent (The Shield) & Grace Santos (that’s me!), and stars Peri Gilpin (Frasier).



Catherine Dent!

Thankful to Catherine for bringing me onto another amazing project.  Our first project was Silk – more info about that project here:

Here’s a pic of Cat and I at Hollyshorts representing Election Night.


Theatrical Release!

A short film could obtain a theatrical distribution deal!?! 🙂

Shorts HD put together 7 short films and called it “Stars In Shorts: No Ordinary Love”. Election Night is paired up with shorts starring Julia Louis Dreyfus, Dick Van Dyke, Matthew Modine and more!

Here’s the press release on Deadline:

ShortsHD Kicks Off One-Week Theatrical Showcase Of Short Films Featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfus & More

And a photo of Election Night actor Caitlin Zambito and me at the cocktail reception:



Crowd Funding!

Crowdfunding ielectionnight-photo-indiegogo-1s a great way for the community to help artists.  I’ve used kickstarter and indiegogo on other projects and it is usually months of hard work.  But this is the first time that I worked on a project that reached its goal and even more – $20,000 – within ONE (1) week!

Tessa Blake and Ian Williams are amazing – check out the cute video and campaign they put together:

They are a great team to work with.  No wonder so many people wanted to give to the project right away.



Indiewire Project of the Day!

Also the first time I worked on a production that was named Indiewire’s Project of the Day 🙂



My first time with a project at the Cannes Film Festival American Pavilion Emerging Artist Showcase!


Here’s a picture of Tessa and I at a Cannes party overlooking the water at sunset 🙂 #CannesFilmFestival #FrenchRiviera #LaCroisette


And fun times walking through the crowded red carpet and up the beautiful white staircase:



More film festivals!

We were blessed to attend several film festivals.  Here are two pics from the LA Comedy Fest, with Ian Williams (Tessa’s husband, Election Night co-writer, behind the scenes producer, and so much … he and Tessa are totally a #PowerCouple ) and Dyami Kerr (one of my best friends and was Key Set PA on Election Night but is now producing his own films).  During this Q&A, Ian told the audience that he usually starts writing by thinking of an intense situation and then it takes off from there.

election-night-at-la-comedy-1   election-night-at-la-comedy-2


Some Behind the Scenes Photos!

Of course the Millennium Biltmore Hotel would have such a fancy sign for filming:


Hat, sneakers, sunglasses … ready for posting filming notices around downtown Los Angeles:


More of our cute actors:


Ellen and me bossing the crew:


With writer/director Tessa Blake:





Starring Peri Gilpin, Jake Johannsen, Caitlin Zambito, Cole Jensen,

Melissa Tang, Noel Arthur, Aedra Ho

Directed by Tessa Blake

Written by Tessa Blake & Ian Williams

Story by Ian Williams

Produced by Catherine Dent & Grace Santos

Co-Produced by Stasia Droze

Consulting Producer – Cynthia Granger

Associate Producer – Brent Austin Knight

Cinematographer – Jim Jost

Editor – Cristina Rackoff

Production Designer – Shamim Seifzadeh

Costume Designer – Deanna Marie Saul

Costume Consultant – Victoria Auth

Casting Director – Lisa Zagoria

First Assistant Director – Li Lu

Second Assistant Director – Allan Aguilar

2nd Second Assistant Director – Jeremy Chang

Script Supervisor – Cheryl Starbuck

Camera Operator – Jason Goebel

First Assistant Camera – Lex Rawlins

Second Assistant Camera – Christy Friers

DIT – Michael Hubbard and Colleen Marshall

Still Photographer – Stasia Droze

Gaffer – David Klassen

Best Boy – Kyle Behrens

Electrician – Chad Buning

Key Grip – Anthony Yamamoto

Grip – David Libertella

Grip / Driver – Eric Hunter

Make-up Department Supervisor – Jennifer Zide-Essex

Key Make-up – Laura Monteleone

Key Hair – Dana Kelley

Assistant Editors – Yuri Chernykh and Sophie Worm

Digital Colorist – Derek Hansen

Sound Editor and Designer – Laurent Kossayan

Re-recording Mixer – Elliot Tyson

Production Sound Mixer – Scott Stolz

Boom Operators – Michelle Guasto and Dyami Kerr

Art Director – Heather Shephard

Prop Master – Paulina Bugembe

Costume Assistants – Sandra Wasche and Joyce Tom

Assistant to Director – Jack O’Shea

Office PA – Ellen Esling

Key Set PA – Dyami Kerr

Production Assistants:

Alberto Mazzotta, Connor Falson, Courtney Klembara,

Eleonora Mozzi, Jessica Jazayeri, Marco Fabbro,

Stephanie Acosta, Tanya Gillette, Toyin Giwa

Studio Teacher – Amber York

Catering – Full Moon Pickles, Jen Smith, Steve Saenz

Craft Service – Gary Matosian

Background Performers:

Samy Abdulahad, Stella Ademiluyi, Dila Andersen,

Sophie Avedikian, Camille Banville, Beau Bassewitz,

Ricardo Benavides, John Bohan, Haley Brown,

Morgan Cavanaugh, Chia Yu Chen, Nikki Cicurel,

Drew Wheeler, Armond Dorsey, Jessica Escobar,

Adrian Gomez, Mike Graham, Jeanette Hattan,

Blake Hubler, Ephraim Hui, Leslie Ivy, Cate Jo,

Veronica Johnson, Doug Kiphut, Sarah Klein,

Gabriel Lawrence, Stina Lundberg, Gabriela Macera,

Michael Martin, Natasha Maslova, Lena Maslova,

Kanika Mehta, Molly Moore, Catherine Pineda,

Nicolas Quinten, Geraldine Ramos, William Rabiej,

Kalyn Rivers, Dana Robie, Suellen Romani, Hiair Salvador,

Terra Scott, Annie Sims, Greg Sims, Shaniece Smith,

Kayla Sokolowski, Suvi Sola, Jessica Strong, Mariela Ticas,

Jenny Torgerson, Marian Wer, Emily Yan, Joel Zegna,

Ty Anaya, Rene Bremond, William Carson III, George Clarke,

Gretchen Dickason, Debra Eckloff, Winifred Elam, Gigi Glynn,

Jonesey Harp, Ramiro Huerta, Piankhi Iknaton, Houston Isabelle,

Laura Juilly, Kaisli Kaprielle, Dominic Lee, Melissa Monroy,

Angelica Neece, Rhoda Pell, David Perez, John Rodiger,

Jay Suzara II, Magaly Varela


Big Sky Edit – Chris Franklin, Cheryl Panek, Agnes Gunawan

Mark Gethin, Amanda Ornelas and MPC

Michele Gan and Serves You Right Catering

Poleng Hong, Caron Haley, and the Millennium Biltmore Hotel

Anthony Medina, Deb Aquila, Geoffrey Nauffts, Cynthia Silver

Monica Nordaus, David Petrarca, Jason Lyon, Lucy Blake-Williams,

Noah & Colette Jost, Debbie Merlin, Rob & Gaby Greenberg,

Daisy von Scherler Mayer, Salem Suber,

Patty West, Trilby Beresford, Joe Petricca, Chris Schwartz, Nicole Ettinger, Terra Abroms,

Denise Brassard, James West, Robert Myrtle, Robert Vaughn, Justin La Forge, Zach Moller

The Directing Workshop for Women 2014

Edited on an Avid

HD Equipment courtesy of Sony Corporation of America

Lenses courtesy of Clairmont Camera

Camera Dollies by Chapman / Leonard Studio Equipment Inc.

Grip and Electric Equipment by Castex Rentals Inc.



Courtesy of APM


Written by Linda Worsley

Performed by Rosewood Studio Orchestra

Courtesy of Redmesa Music


Written by Ian Williams

Performed by eastcoast

Courtesy of Strike Music

AFI Directing Workshop for Women

Funded by:

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences

Jean Picker Firstenberg

Jean Picker Firstenberg Endowment

Nancy Malone

The Bob and Dolores Hope Charitable Foundation

Sony Corporation of America

The Adrienne Shelly Foundation

Roz Wyman

And other generous corporations and individuals committed to providing

opportunities for women in the media arts

© copyright 2015 American Film Institute


Election Night Patrons:

Amy Barrett & Jonathan Lethem

Emma Hewitt & Jason Isaacs

Jason Lyon & Tim Hartley

Election Night Angels:

Sandra T. Blake

Louis & Sophie Girard

David Petrarca

Richard & Carole Williams

The rest of the wonderful indiegogo donors in no particular order:  

Eileen Funke, Kaz Brecher, Jen Chambers, Shark Adelic, Amy Heidt,

Jace Alexander & Maddie Corman, Liz Tidy, Emma Hewitt & Jason Isaacs,

Peter Rukavina, Lucy Blake-Williams, Dan Helias, Ted Ridgeway, Debbie Rubenstein,

Neil Reimann, Dan Etheridge, John Hawbaker, David Curtis Smith, Steve Ducey,

Joey Xanders, Stacey Hawkins, Penny Franks, Diana Coatney, Silvia Spross,

Kimberlee Smith, David Sampliner, Garret Savage, Lauren Meltzner and David Fox,

Heather Holst-Knudsen, Susan Comfort, Patrick Breen, Sam Stephenson,

Ilana Levine & Dominic Fumusa, Peter Hirsch & Cusi Cram,

Michael Angelo Stuno, Claire Campbell, Mere Berg, Nar Commerce,

Stasia Droze & Jim Jost, Katharine McFarland & Luke McGowan

Sean & Jordana Williams, Martha Egger, Salem Suber, Sharon Ben-Meir

George & Laurie Gilmore, Parker Bent, Stephanie Barish & Scott Chamberlin

Dave & Lari Cabanilla, Tony Brackett & Robert Speiser, Jordan Imbrey,

Scott Bullock & Danielle Cheriff, Henry Stevens, Donna Obeid, Paul Marcarelli,

Cynthia Birdsill, Jeffrey Lieber & Holly Long, Alec Guettel, Alex Yong,

Rick Maechling, Marty Stonerock, Mary Rachel Dudley, Colette Ballou,

Michael Maren & Dani Shapiro, Catherine Dent, Heike, David and Leo,

Susan Hoffman Hyman, Laura Guzik-Cohn, Mary Ellen Klee,

Amy Barrett, Alyssa Newman, Kevin Coggins, Geoffrey Nauffts,

Mark Freund & Trice Koopman, Bliss Broyard, David Petrarca,

Alberta Nassi, Elizabeth Trundle, Diana Coatney,

Quinn, Jana & the Kofford Gang, Doug & Kristine Christensen

Jennifer Hatfield, Ben & Kara Weber, Laurie Winkler Thurtle

Amy Scott, Seth Shelden, Louis & Sophie Girard, Dennis McFarland & Michelle Blake,

Chuck Price, Sam Polk & Kirsten Thompson, Monica Nordhaus,

Jason Lyon & Tim Hartley, Sam King, Margaret Boyer, Dana & Lindsay Bowen,

Katie Kosma, Lars Lucier, Jodi Kantor & Ron Leiber, Ehren Gresehover,

Tammy Oler, Catherine Corpeny, Richard & Carole Williams, Betsy Cadel,

Caitlin Reed, Kelly Wachowicz, Sean Patrick Williams, Oz Benamram & Gali Freedman,

Steve Williams, Jamie Block, Gaby & Rob Greenberg, Andrew Erlichman,

Betsy Peyton, Lorraine Tobias & Alex Draper, Sandy T. Blake,

Todd Walker & Inge Kautzman, Shannon Worrell, Chris Chapman,

Virginia Heffernan, Joy Huang, Michelle Williams-Vaden, Pippa Bianco, Patty West









A desperate mother is forced to make a perilous border crossing to save her child’s life.


About the photos in this post: Some are screen grabs from “Odessa” film: copyright Ethos Pictures. Some are behind the scenes photos by Michael Rushton : copyright Ethos Pictures. And photo editing by our writer/producer Doug Johnson.













(Warning: Spoilers).  In a post-apocalyptic, oil-starved future, an American woman (Estrella played by Grace Santos) hires a guide known as a “dowser” (Victor played by Ricky Wayne) to coyote her across the border and through the desert on horseback to a town where stockpiles of the gasoline she desperately needs can be found.  If caught, the two will be shot on sight, but they manage to dodge the heavily-armed border patrol and steal twenty gallons of fuel before heading back to the U.S.  When her guide is shot by a border patrol sniper at the fence, we discover that the country they’ve been in isn’t Mexico, but the sovereign nation of Texas, which has seceded from the union with a monopoly of the mainland’s oil reserves, and after Estrella barely manages to escape on her own through a smuggler’s tunnel (though now with only half the gasoline she came for), we learn that she needed the fuel not for a vehicle, but for a generator that powers the medical equipment which keeps her gravely ill child alive.

TECH NOTESodessa-8-rickygascans

  • Total Running Time: 13 minutes 20 seconds (including credits)
  • Camera: Shot on an Arri Alexa
  • Formats available for screenings: DCP, HDCAM, DVD, Blu-ray Disc
  • Shooting Locations: border of Unites States and Mexico in Texas and New Mexico
  • Completion Date: January 2015



  • “Odessa Makes You Think and Feel.” – Richard Propes, The Independent Critic (
  • Odessa “has a post apocalyptic beauty that can only be rivaled by films like THE ROVER, THE ROAD and of course the MAD MAX franchise.” “Not only do I want to see more of ODESSA I feel that this could be the type of show that could change our way of thought in the future.” – Travis Brown, Horror Movies Uncut (
  • “This taut, gripping, short film horrified me more for its relevant, real-word authenticity …” – Damsals With Chainsaws (
  • “Two very talented main actors take the lead and set the tone for one of the best short films I’ve seen in a while, both Ricky Wayne and Grace Santos work well together and are two fascinating actors to watch.” – The Scream Review (
  • “Aside from its crisp production value, Odessa – a short film mind you – accomplished what the majority of today’s features lack: It made me think, feel, and most importantly, want to explore more of the world the filmmakers and actors created”, says Joe Belcastro of the Florida Film Critics Circle and the Southeastern Film Critics Association, a member of the Gasparilla International Film Festival 2015 Grand Jury. (

odessa-bts-cans  odessa-bts-us


  • Cannes Film Festival Short Corner, Cannes, France

    Grace Santos at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival

  • Savannah Film Festival, Savannah, Georgia – Official Selection
  • Hollyshorts, Hollywood, California – Official Selection
  • Gasparilla International Film Festival, Tampa, Florida – Official Selection and Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film
  • Louisville International Film Festival, Louisville, Kentucky – Official Selection
  • Worldfest, Houston, Texas – Remi Winner
  • Plaza Classic, El Paso, Texas
  • Wasteland Film Festival, California City, California – Official Selection
  • Santa Fe Film Festival, Santa Fe, New Mexico – Official Selection and Winner of Best SciFi Short


DIRECTOR’S STATEMENTodessa-bts-seanandgrace

While developing a very similar project in Canada, based not in Texas, but in the far reaches of the north, Odessa was forwarded to me. I was not only struck by the quality of writing and brilliant economy of the short story, I was struck by the tangibility of the premise.  The world of the script isn’t a post-apocalypse crawling with zombies or hordes of punk rock gangs; it is a vision of the near-future that is entirely possible and all too real.  This was a story to tell.

In addition to the premise, I was really drawn to fact that the protagonist was female, which seems to be rare in the history of this genre.  It wasn’t a female substituted in a male role either, as she has genuine motivations and female attributes.

odessa-bts-stephen1Odessa is many things, a western, an apocalyptic near future sci-fi, a road story, a chase film, and ultimately a family drama.  I embraced the many things it was and melded the choices.  Some moments intentionally harkens epic cinema, other moments have a far grittier documentary inspired approach.  The choices were intended to bring the best out of scenarios, framing the dusty West Texan landscapes in an visually impactful way, while lending a more on the fly approach to acting moments with the purpose of enhancing realism and believability.

In my view the blend of contrasting styles, in combination with edit pace, score, and creative sound design, works to sustain tension and create energy when necessary and tension is a key factor in the film, as is the feeling of release in the end. Ultimately, I was hoping the blend of style choices and inspirations would create a modern sort of film language, one with an eye on the past and one looking keenly to the future.




odessa_board1_turrell odessa_board2_turrell odessa_board3_turrell odessa_board4_turrell




BTS Photo of Producer Andrew Shebay giving Director Sean Michael Turrell a birthday cake right after we wrapped. We shot “Odessa” during Sean’s __th birthday! (Still photographer


Q: Why did you approach Sean Michael Turrell to direct?

A by Actor/Producer Grace Santos:  When I moved from Florida to California, I drove along the US-Mexican border and fell in love with the landscape (I even ended up exploring New Mexico for 4 days instead of just driving through).  I knew “Odessa” would need a director with a great visual style that could capture this beauty.  A couple weeks after I found the script, I attended the Palm Springs International ShortsFest because one of my films was screening there.  There, I watched Sean’s film “Follow”, which lead me to do more internet research on Sean and I came across many of his music videos.  After seeing his short film and music videos, and after meeting him in person at one of the festival parties, I knew he would be perfect to direct “Odessa”.  Then I had to figure out how to convince him to work on an ultra low budget production and with me (someone with few credits).  Again I thank Doug for writing a great script to attract a great director.


BTS photo of Director Sean Michael Turrell, Writer/Producer Doug Johnson, and Actor/Producer Grace Santos conversing between takes in New Mexico.




Q: How did you come up with this script?

A by Writer Doug JohnsonOdessa was written as an exercise through Trigger Street Labs, which is an online community of writers and filmmakers created by Kevin Spacey and producer Dana Brunetti. The writing side of the platform is geared toward features, but once in a while a group will get together and write short scripts that are variations on a theme. This particular anthology was organized by a Welsh writer named David Brough, and the only story criteria were that the script be no more than eight pages, and that it contained a major plot twist that was completely unexpected.  The story world for Odessa was something I’d been mulling over for about a year, but hadn’t come up with a hundred-page storyline that excited me enough to commit to paper. When David told me about his idea, it seemed like the perfect excuse to get off my ass and do somethiodessa-bts-humveeng with that story world. I had no idea where the script would go or who the characters were, just a goal and an obstacle to it. The result was nothing like what I’d thought it would be. I started off writing an action script, but by the time I reached Fade Out, I’d written a drama. Our very sharp producer Grace Santos read the script and opened my eyes to the fact that the post-apocalyptic world of Odessa was the ideal context for a series of overlapping vignettes, and we’re hard at work developing those stories now.


Q: Why did you choose this script to produce?

A by Actor/Producer Grace Santos:  I did not meet Doug in person until the day before the shoot, as he lives in New York and I live in Los Angeles – technology is amazing.  I’ve produced 21 plays and 6 shorts and have been searching for high quality material to finally jump into features and series.  I stumbled across the logline for “Odessa” on and initially thought about passing because the description said it was only a 10 page script.  But the simple logline compelled me to contact Doug to obtain the full script.odessa-12-borderestrella

I fell in love with the story immediately because of the character of Estrella.  Estrella is multidimensional and those are the roles I’m looking for as an actress.  I wouldn’t be believable as a character like Lara Croft, a hot tough chick.  I’m a mother and can identify with moving way beyond my comfort zone and making sacrifices for my child.

Also, the script delivered a compelling, personal drama that touched on the issues of border security and immigration.  Around the same time that I found “Odessa” in June 2013, a university study was released analyzing the trends and demographics of 2,238 people who died in south central Arizona from 1990 to 2012 after crossing the border illegally.  The study made an observation that stuck with me while reading “Odessa”, and comes up again and again in the debates and the news:  “odessa-16-willgraceWe’re missing the point. The answers don’t lie in border security. The answers lie in understanding the economics [that drive migration.]”.  Most of my past projects have touched on a political or social issue.  I’m drawn to those issues – I studied religious studies and law even though I was already a member of AEA and SAG.  I also named my production company Ethos because “character” means more than just an individual, but is also used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology.  I look for character driven works and also works that analyze how relationships between characters mime society and society’s ideas.

odessa-7-plateauestrellabinocsFurthermore, the way Doug set up the story-world generates endless possibilities for the development of more characters and dramatic storylines. So I am “forcing” Doug to continue to work with me to develop “Odessa” into a bigger work.  In summary, the script hit so many of my sides and goals: compelling story, great characters, foundation for a series, personal acting goals, my socio-political side, beauty, and so much!  I can’t believe I convinced Doug to work with me!





Q: Why did you approach Andrew Shebay to produce?odessa-bts-andrew

A by Actor/Producer Grace Santos:  There is something about June of 2013:  I found the script, the university study about border security was released, and I attended the Palm Springs International ShortsFest where I met Sean and Andrew.  Andrew told me that he was a Texas based producer, so I mentioned how I’m trying to produce “Odessa” but am not sure if I will be able to film it in Texas (even though the setting is Texas) because of costs.  After the festival we kept in touch and he messaged me once in a while about how great it is to film in Texas and how he knows filming in Texas would be way cheaper than filming in Los Angeles.  He has a pretty enthusiastic personality … everyone has to meet him.  He obtained almost half of the budget, found all the locations, coordinated the production design with Richard and Doug, and fed the cast and crew yummy food!  “Odessa” would not have been made without his charismatic personality pushing everyone along.

Q: Why did you approach David Moscow? 

David Moscow and Grace Santos speaking on a diversity panel at the Santa Fe Film Festival

David Moscow and Grace Santos speaking on a diversity panel at the Santa Fe Film Festival

A by Actor/Producer Grace Santos:  I met him way before June 2013.  We met on set on a 2007 production.  I “made” him become my go-to person for business advice.  He has been in the business for many many years as both an actor and producer and he also has a similar political side to me.  He has such a wonderful personality.

Q: The writer, Doug Johnson, is also a producer? 

A by Actor/Producer Grace Santos:  I hit the jack pot with Doug.  He is not only a writer.  He has worked in post-production for over a decade, passion for story, photoshop/graphic design skills, and makes fake weapons that look so real on the screen.  I didn’t know these things about him when I found his script because his website only advertises himself as a writer.  I have discovered these things little by little through emailing and skyping during the development of the short and series.  I told him he is going to end up being a leading showrunner.  Just wait and you all will see.





Question: What were the character descriptions posted during the
casting process?

  • VICTOR (Lead): Male, age 35-45, Hispanic, coyote with a heart, the man who can find you what you need on the far side of the border fence and will get you there and back for a price. A scavenger and survivor, a resourceful scrapper and pragmatist whose weakness is empathy.odessa-0-character-victor-1
  • SAM (Lead): Male, age 30-40, any ethnicity, tough but smart and caring father/husband who lost his livelihood as a trucker/mechanic when the nation’s oil supplies were cut off.  Now struggling with inability to provide for his family.
  • ELIAS (Supporting): Male, age 6-8 (to play 6), Mixed Race son of Sam (breakdown above) and Estrella (Hispanic mother).  Serious illness keeps him bed-ridden but remains eternally optimistic. The portrait of innocence with a face that lights up a screen. One page part, but an important dramatiodessa-0-character-sam-1c role in final scene of the film / first episode.


Question: How did you get the Cast?

A by Actor/Producer Grace Santos:  Both Ricky Wayne (The Walking Dead, House of Bones) and Will Haze (Banshee, One Tree Hill) have over fifty credits each in film and television, but I actually met them in Tampa, Florida, not Los Angeles.  We attended the Performers Studio Workshop in which Kathy Laughlin CSA taught the Eric Morris Method of Acting.  I sent odessa-12-bordercorradoSean their acting reels and Sean said they are absolutely perfect for the roles.  I feel really blessed that Ricky and Will took the time to fly into Texas for this project when they definitely do not need to add to their credits or acting reels.  They are very talented and giving people.  I cannot say enough about them.  I met Anthony Escobar (Prison Break) through the El Paso Film Commission.  He was accidentally listed as an Assistant Director instead of an actor and I am happy for the mistake.  He knows everything about El Paso filmmaking (the local actors, crew, locations) and was so giving without asking for anything in return.  When I did internet research on him (yes, it appears that I perform a google search on everyone prior to doing business with them), I came across his acting reel.  He is talented so I aodessa-18-sophia2sked Doug to write a role for him.  We met Manny Rubio and Isa Rubio through Anthony.  Our original cast member for the role of Elias booked a bigger project so could no longer work on “Odessa”.  Manny was already working with us and when the casting issue happened at the last minute, we were more than happy to find out that Manny had the cutest actress daughter and it worked perfectly to change the role of the son into a daughter.


odessa-12-borderpatrol1 odessa-12-borderpatrol2sniper odessa-15-willgrace

odessa-bts-rickygrace odessa-bts-willandgrace2 odessa-bts-willgrace1 odessa-bts-willandgrace3





Question: What was your experience working with the crew?

A by Actor/Producer Grace Santos:  Crewing up was difficult since I did not know anyone in odessa-bts-wreckandlorenaEl Paso.  I knew some people in other cities but didn’t realize that Austin was 8 hours away and Dallas was 12 hours away – gosh Texas is a large state!  I first did some internet research to try to find a local El Paso production company that would like to co-produce the film with my company.  When that fell through, I posted ads on the Texas Film Commission website and Craig’s List in El Paso, TX and Las Cruces, NM, and I started calling people in the directory of the El Paso Film Commission.


Our Cinematographer, Stephen, flew in from Toronto with Sean.  They worked together on a seriesodessa-bts-tunnel1 in which they had to move around from city to city.  I joke around that I hired Stephen because I saw Keith Urban on his website.


I found the Art Director Richard Glass through the El Paso County Film Commission directory.  We bonded over the phone because of our love of the stage/theater.


The Costume Designer, Jennifer, contacted me when she saw my post on the Texas Film Commission site.  When I saw that she designed for Director Griff Furst, I had to hire her.  I took an acting workshop with him and know he is very picky about who he hires on his team.  Jennifer and I spoke on the phone and although she is based in Mississippi, she was willing to drive to El Paso for the production because she liked the script so much.odessa-bts-stephen2


I’m not exactly sure how Andrew found our Key Makeup / Key Hair / Costume Supervisor, Ronnie.  I’m just glad he found her.  She and her assistant Henry worked such long hours and helped every department.  I really adore them and keep asking Ronnie to move to Los Angeles.


Our Assistant Director Stefon and Key Grip Eric are my friends from Los Angeles.  I couldn’t findodessa-bts-tracks locals for these roles and I have worked on more than one project with Stefon and Eric and know their work ethic so I felt more secure having them on the team.


Carlos, our Sound Mixer, joined the team a couple hours after we had already started filming.  There was a communication issue with our prior sound mixer.  Carlos was listed on the El Paso Film Commission directory and I am so glad I didn’t freak him out with a panicked 6am phone call.  I’ve found out that things always happen for a wonderful reason … Carlos is more than a sound mixer, he is also an award winning filmmaker, and I can’t wait to collaborate with him on projects.


Some people advise against posting on Craig’s List, but I’ve had pretty great luck finding great people through it.  On Odessa, my “Craig’s List Greats” are Michael Rushton (our Still odessa-bts-stefonPhotographer) and Jamie Medrano (our 1st Assistant Camera).  They are so professional!  And check out their websites to see their talent!


Michael Charsky was not one of our crew members per se.  He is the location manager for Indian Cliffs Ranch and I’m not sure how Andrew found him but I’m glad he did.  Not just because I dig Mr. Charsky’s style (his clothes, hat, boots, beard, pipe, gun, jeep) and the books he reads and listening to his stories about the sets he has worked on.  He totally drilled me about safety on set.  And he provided creative input.  I really appreciate everything he did for us.


I thought finding a local animal wrangler would be difficult because the film commission websitesodessa-bts-shebay did not have anyone listed in El Paso.  Thank goodness for google.  Susie is based in Las Cruces NM, which is just an hour away.  It was important to find someone local because we were very low budget and shipping horses would have been expensive.  Yet we also couldn’t just rent a horse from a local ranch – we had to make sure they were trained for filming.  Safety first!  Susie, her assistants, and her horses are so professional, and I would recommend Susie to anyone.  I don’t know if Susie was thinking ahead or if it was just part of the movie making magic, but one of her assistants, Laura Mandell (an award winning horse riding competition gal) is exactly my size and we had the same hair length.  There was a narrow section on a cliff and Susie strongly argued against me riding the horse there.  It was easily handled with Laura becoming my double.  Also, Susie always provided creative input to Sean and Doug by letting them know how she thinks a horse would react in certain places of the script.odessa-bts-keypa


The rest of the team members are friends of our dear Anthony.  He’s such a great person that he attracts great friends.  Lorena Mojica is one of the best Script Supervisors I’ve worked with.  She was constantly right there, taking notes, pointing things out to Sean right away.  Her twin sister Marisa Mojica is an actress and thought she was just going to be a stand in, but she ended up being a wonderful 2nd AC.  Our PA’s, Arcye Evans, Lucius Morton, Ulises Cosio, Anthony Aguila, Cesar Meza, worked so hard running errands, moving sets, digging holes in the odessa-bts-mcharsky1ground, etc.






Question: How was your experience working on “Odessa”?

A by Art Director Richard Glass:  The one thing I did want to comment on was the cleverness and creativity I saw by all the participants –making something from nothing, or as they say, “takingodessa-bts-mrushton2 chicken shit and making chicken salad”.  It is an amazing thing when a group of artists come together in harmony and cooperation and work together on something, and then God comes down and adds a little more–that little something extra that no one individual can take credit for, yet there it is.  Particularly, when we were at the finish line and Grace gave that wonderful performance next to a cold bed, with lighting wizardry making us think it was daytime, and just enough set dressing to fool the audience completely.  Those are the moments when all the efforts are rewarded, when an artistic triumph happens and you almost pinch yourself in disbelief.  Try and explain it to a non-artist.  For me, those moments are what life is all about.odessa-bts-jaime




Question: How was your experience working on “Odessa”?

A by Costume Designer Jennifer Schreck: I was thrilled when I was brought onto the project.  When the script finally revealed the reason behind Estrella’s journey, I had tears in my eyes. In costuming this project I really had to think on what would make the most sense for each character and getting into their head was my favorite part. The story is gritty and the landscape harsh so it was a fun challenge to get the costuming distressed in such a way that it looked natural and showed the odessa-bts-2ndachardship these characters faced on daily basis. I was able to work closely with the makeup artist and combine our ideas (and pigment dirt) to make sure the makeup and costuming each had the same look and color palette and the overall result looked great on camera.




odessa-bts-crewpic odessa-bts-basecamp odessa-bts-borderpatrol odessa-bts-carlos1 odessa-bts-carlos2 odessa-bts-crane odessa-bts-dig1 odessa-bts-dig2 odessa-bts-eric   odessa-bts-grace1 odessa-bts-grace2 odessa-bts-grace4 odessa-bts-roni2 odessa-bts-roni1 odessa-bts-tunnel2


odessa-ff-hs-01 odessa-ff-giff-23 odessa-ff-giff-17-b odessa-ff-elp-01

odessa-ff-sav-01 odessa-ff-sav-02 odessa-ff-sav-03 odessa-ff-hs-05

odessa-ff-giff-05-b   odessa-ff-giff-01




Director | Sean Michael Turrell

Writer & Producer | Doug Johnson

Producers | David Moscow, Grace Santos Feeney, & Andrew Shebay

Cinematographer | Stephen Chung

Editor | J Deschamps

Music Composer  | Luis Romanos

Cast | Estrella | Grace Santos

Cast | Victor | Ricky Wayne

Cast | Sam | Will Haze

Cast | Agent Corrado | Anthony Escobar

Cast | Sophia | Isa Rubio

Cast | Agent | Manny Rubio

Cast | Border Patrol | Lucius Morton, Cesar Meza, Alfonso Orenday, Ralph Dimauro

First Assistant Director | Stefon L.C.

Art Director | Richard Glass

Costume Designer | Jennifer Schreck

Key Makeup, Hair, Costume Supervisor | Veronica Barajas

Production Sound Mixer | Carlos Corral

Script Supervisor | Lorena Mojica

First Assistant Camera | Jaime Medrano

Second Assistant Camera | Marisa Mojica & Joseline Segovia

Still Photographer | Michael Rushton

Assistant Makeup/Hair/Costume | Henry Castillo

Assistant Costume Design | Phillip Schreck

Set Construction | Black Out Signs

Production Assistants | Arcye Evans, Lucius Morton, Ulises Cosio, Anthony Aguila

Animal Wranglers | Susie Whelpley, Laura Mandell, Lanie Whelpley

Colorist | Ernesto Joven


Mr. and Mrs. Shebay   /   El Paso Film Commission   /   Escobar Ranch   /

Red Sky Ranch and Stella   /   U.S. Border Patrol   /   Linda Isrel and SAG-AFTRA

Indian Cliffs Ranch, Cattleman’s Steakhouse, and Michael Charsky   /

Sunland Park Sherriff’s Office   /   Sierra Blanca Sherriff’s Office

Camera Cranes & Dollies by Chapman Leonard Studio Equipment Inc

Lighting and Grip Equipment by Wooden Nickel Lighting Inc

Arri Alexa and camera support equipment courtesy of Brain Box Cameras

Late Night Cinema

© copyright 2014 Ethos Pictures LLC


STELLA! Our beautiful horse:

odessa-bts-stella2 odessa-bts-stella3 odessa-bts-stellanight

A Tricky Treat, an award winning horror comedy

“A Tricky Treat” was the first horror comedy I produced and it had a wonderful year run in film festivals.

Vividly gory and uncomfortably playful, the film revels in the shocking fate of a man kidnapped by a very strange family, and his fate is held in the hands of two kids.



“Deliciously vile.” – Fangoria Magazine

“Welcome to the world of A Tricky Treat, an immensely satisfying three-minute short centered around one ill-fated man (Leonard Waldner) who not so willingly encounters a family who invites him into their ghoulishly sentimental Halloween tradition.” – The Independent Critic

“A nasty little ditty that tends to shock, horrify, and make some even gag, but eventually ends on a creepy, funny note.” – The Movie Guys

“Gorey, disturbing, and the payoff is perfect!” – Film Classics Virgin

“A Tricky Treat subverts suburbia better in three minutes than any hackneyed Tim Burton feature.” – Starbust Magazine

“A dainty little treat.” – Horror Movies Uncut

“It does more in the short time given it than some movies do in 90 minutes. It’s visceral, bloody, creepy and has a certain delicious ending that just freaked me out!” – Horror Cabin

“It’s a fun watch, definitely not safe for work… a bloody reversal of a revered Halloween tradition you should avoid eating anything while watching lest you regurgitate it.” – All Things Horror

“A fun, lighthearted and heavily-gored short…The gore is phenomenal and considering the short is only two minutes long this might have the highest ratio of gore to run time I’ve ever seen… And you’re gonna love the TWILIGHT ZONE-esque ending!!” – Zombie Prank



  • Cannes Short Corner, Cannes, France, May 2015
  • Fantasia International Film Festival, Montreal, Canada, July 2015, Official Selection
  • Verona Video Festival, Verona, Italy, July 2015, Official Selection
  • Haunt Faire – Macabre Faire, New York City, August 2015, Official Selection, Winner Best Short, Winner Best Director, Winner Best Editing, Winner Best Special Effects
  • Scream Queen Female in Horror Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan, August 2015, Official Selection
  • DragonCon Independent Film Festival, Atlanta, Georgia, September 2015, Official Selection, Finalist in Horror Comedy Section
  • Halloween Horror Fest, October 2015, Official Selection, Winner Skin Crawler Award
  • Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival, Saskatoon, SK, October 2015, Official Selection
  • RIP Horror Film Festival, Hollywood, California, October 2015, Official Selection, Winner Best Micro Short
  • Oaxaca Film Fest, Oaxaca, Mexico, October 2015, Official Selection, Winner Special Jury Mention
  • Lund Fantastisk Film Festival, Sweden, October 2015, Official Selection
  • Telluride Horror Show, Telluride, Colorado, October 2015, Official Selection
  • Mile High Horror Film Festival, Denver, Colorado, October 2015, Official Selection
  • Screamfest, Los Angeles, California, October 2015, Official Selection
  • Cinetoro Film Festival, Colombia, October 2015, Official Selection
  • Muestra Internacional de Cortometrajes Multifest, Mexico, October 2015, Official Selection
  • Montemario Film Festival, October 2015, Official Selection
  • Festival Internacional 4 minutos en Corto, October 2015, Official Selection
  • Rhode Island International Film Festival, Providence, Rhode Island, October 2015, Official Selection
  • Morbido Fest, Puebla, Mexico, October 2015, Official Selection
  • Buried Alive Horror Film Fest, Atlanta, Georgia, October 2015, Official Selection
  • Zinema Zombie Fest, Colombia, October 2015, Official Selection
  • Bronx World Film, New York, October 2015, Official Selection
  • South Dakota Premiere of Tales of Halloween, South Dakota, October 2015, Official Selection
  • Days of the Dead, Burbank, California, April 2016, Official Selection
  • International Horror & Sci Fi Film Festival / Phoenix Film Festival, Phoenix, Arizona, Official Selection





Thank you to Producer/Director/Editor Patricia Chica and Writer Kamal Iskander for letting me join the team.

Patricia Chica, Kamal Iskander, Grace Santos at Screamfest for their film A Tricky Treat    trickytreat-wrapparty-gracepatricia1


Thank you to Special Effects Supervisor Danny McCarthy and the rest of the 800 Lb Guerrilla team:

trickytreat-spfx-1   trickytreat-spfx-2   trickytreat-screengrab-tongue   trickytreat-bts-dannypatricia-1


Thank you to RedLab Digital Toronto:



THANK YOU TO THE WHOLE TEAM (I will upload more pictures soon!)


Leonard Waldner (the victim)
Steve Brewster (the dad)
Andrea Fletcher (the mom)
Keira McCarthy (the daughter)
Marco Reilly (the son)


Directed and Edited by Patricia Chica
Written by Kamal John Iskander
Produced by Patricia Chica, Grace Santos, Byron A. Martin
Executive Producer: Tara Kurtz
Co-Executive Producers: Morris Umali, Adonai Interiano
Special FX Supervisor: Danny McCarthy & his 800 lb Guerilla team
Visual FX Supervisor: Henry Lipatov, Anton Golovchenko
Director of photography: Imad Rhayem
Production Design: Gabrielle Giraud


Bree DOES Comedy

A comedic web series where a porn star discovers that quitting the porn business to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a comedic actor is not that easy – the comedy world is difficult!

Starring the real Bree Olson, the one you may have heard on the Howard Stern Show and more.

All 6 episodes of Season 1 of “Bree DOES Comedy” are on our YouTube channel.


Ep 1.1 Bree Does An Audition 

Check out Ep 1.1 Bree Does An Audition here:

Check out Ep 1.1 Bree Does An Audition here:

Bree Olson quits porn and is trying to get her foot in the door of the comedy world. She gets her first audition.

Starring the series regulars: Bree Olson, Kimberly McVicar,  Grace Santos, and guest starring David Brown (also the co-director and editor)


Ep 1.2 Bree Does Improv 

Check out Ep 1.2 Bree Does Improv here

Check out Ep 1.2 Bree Does Improv here

Bree takes the casting director’s advice and is trying an improv class!

Guest starring Guy Stevenson (over 55 episodes of MADtv) and Annika Noelle (Jersey Boys)


Ep 1.3 Bree Does Stand Up 

Let’s see how she does at stand up!

Check out Ep 1.3 Bree Does Standup here

Check out Ep 1.3 Bree Does Standup here

Guest starring Saye Yabandeh, Noel Arthur (The Young and the Restless), Anthony Fanelli (Hand of God)



Ep 1.4 Bree Does Sketch 

Bree takes a shot at sketch only to meet an unknown enemy.

Check out Ep 1.4 Bree Does Sketch here

Check out Ep 1.4 Bree Does Sketch here

Guest starring Madylin Sweeten (series regular from Everybody Loves Raymond) and Jordan Wall (series regular from The Glades)



Ep 1.5 Bree Does A Makeunder 

Check out Ep 1.5 Bree Does A Makeunder here

Check out Ep 1.5 Bree Does A Makeunder here

Looks are everything in this business. Let’s see how Bree handles her new makeunder.

Guest starring Steve Brewster (The Second City TMI)


Ep 1.6 Bree Doesn’t Know 

What should Bree do?

Check out Ep 1.6 Bree Doesn't Know here

Check out Ep 1.6 Bree Doesn’t Know here



Character: Bree – 25, ex-porn star

Bree had no plans on becoming a porn star when she

Bree Olson in Bree Does Comedy An Auditionmoved to LA from Indiana at the age of 18. She wanted to be a comedic actor. But when she read the script for “Swallow My Squirt 5”, and cracked up at the comedy, she knew it was too good to turn down. Then, after the paychecks started rolling in – she couldn’t stop. Plus she found out that sexy women could get whatever they wanted from guys. She’s quit the business, but she still makes money selling porn merchandise on and is obsessed with posting half-naked selfies on Instagram. She also posts pictures of her playing the piano. She has two cats, Dr Sniffles and Princess Netty-Puff, and they have active Twitter accounts. She is very health conscious – she always works out, is a vegan, and doesn’t drink or do drugs. Her hero is her grandmother, who was a concentration camp survivor. Bree’s ex-girlfriend Trisha is a barista at Starbucks, and their relationship ended so badly that Bree only dates men… for now. Bree no longer goes to the Starbucks after she figured out she was being “decaffeinated” – which is when the employees make decaf drinks for the people they hate.

Real Bio:

  • Rachel Marie Oberlin a/k/a Bree Olson (Actor and Producer): Rachel/Bree entered the adult industry in November 2006 and has performed in over 280 adult movies. She appeared on the cover of Hustler, Penthouse, and Playboy Magazine. She was named Maxim’s top 12 female porn stars. Bree has made appearances on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Opie and Anthony, The Howard Stern Show, Insomniac with Dave Attell, the Spike Guy’s Choice Awards, The Glass House, and Tosh.0. She is currently in a weekly show at The Second City Hollywood called TMI on Sundays at 7:30pm.


Character: Kim – 30, the shitty smarmy manager

Kim is a manager who will lie, cheat and steal in order to make money off of someone. She is basically a leech. She

Bree Does Comedy Kimberly McVicar Grace Santos Standupcalls herself a “Hands on” manager – but “Hands on” really means “live in” man- ager. She is a leech who bleeds her clients dry then moves on to the next one. Her claim to fame is that she thinks she’s responsible for making Miley Cyrus quit “Hannah Montana” – after shouting at Miley from her car one day. Kim has only slept with one person (when she was 20), but was cheated on by him and has sworn off sex and personal relationships ever since. She has an unflattering style (much the opposite of Bree, who dressed sexy and trendy).

Real Bio:

  • Kimberly McVicar (Creator, Executive Producer, Producer, Writer, Director, Actor): Kim was born in Toronto, Canada, then began touring the USA as a dancer at the age of 10, dancing with artists such as P. Diddy, M.C. Hammer, and re- cently Kid Sister. She has been sponsored by TIMEX, REEBOK, NIKE and POLO SPORT. She currently lives in Los Angeles and has trained with The Groundlings, Second City Hollywood, and Upright Citizens Brigade. She is currently in a weekly show at Second City Hollywood called TMI on Sun- days at 7:30. You can also catch her on Netflix in Dark Horse, Who’s Your Monkey, He’s Just Not That Into You, Immortal Island, Hollows Point, or on Funny Or Die.


Character: Grace – 30, Bree’s obsessed neighbor

Shy and a little quirky; works in IT. From a small town in FL; moved to LA because she was “a small fish in a small

Bree Does Comedy with Bree Olson and Grace Santostown, but now she can be a small fish in a big town.” Grace is Bree’s biggest fan and purposely moved next to Bree (but Bree doesn’t know it). Her obsession with Bree started when Bree said “Hey” to her on the street and made her feel like a somebody. She would do anything for Bree. She has seen (and owns) all of Bree’s movies, and references them all the time. Dresses in anything she thinks Bree would maybe wear but does it all wrong. Maybe a lesbian.

Real Bio:

  • Grace Santos (Producer and Actor):



Coming soon!  I learned so much!





Escaping the past is never smooth.

afi-dww-silk-still-childbride   rani-and-fabric-shrink


Silk is the story of Rani (Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Shohreh Aghdashloo), a middle-eastern woman given away by her family and forced into marriage at age 11.  Now a somber seamstress living in Glendale, California with her husband, Rani encounters a group of young woman brazen enough to illuminate what life is like outside the confines of her abusive marriage.

No longer willing to spend the rest of her days under the scornful gaze of a man she never loved, Rani seizes a unique opportunity to reclaim the life that was taken long ago when she was forced to become a child bride.

Silk is an original screenplay, written by Catherine Dent & Eyal Alony, and was inspired by the Pulitzer Prize winning photo essay, Too Young to Wed by Stephanie Sinclair.  Catherine Dent is one of eight filmmakers chosen to participate in the prestigious program, the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women (AFI DWW), which has launched the career of many working directors. National statistics published by the Directors Guild of America indicate that only 7% of working film directors are women. The AFI DWW can proudly claim that 25% of its alumna have secured professional directing credits since participating in the program.



Link to trailer:

Link to film:



Total Running Time: 17 minutes

Camera:  Shot on an Alexa Arri


Language:  English

Place of Production: Los Angeles

Genre: Drama

#WomensRights #HumanRights #ChildBrides #ShortFilm #FemaleFilmmakers



silk-festival-palmsprings-1 silk-festival-lasvegas-1

A perk of filmmaking is traveling and film festivals.  Silk brought me to Las Vegas for the first time and my first picture with Elvis and a pink convertible.  🙂  Also my first time at the Palm Springs ShortsFest and more!



(Still Photographer: Christopher Xavier Lozano)

Behind the scenes on our 5th day of shooting with our star Shohreh, 2nd 2nd AD Adi, and PA Melissa

Behind the scenes on our 5th day of shooting with our star Shohreh, 2nd 2nd AD Adi, and PA Melissa, shooting the fabric store scenes in Glendale.


BTS photo from our 1st day at Blue Cloud Movie Ranch to film the flashback Middle East scenes. Our cinematographer Noah and the Arri Alexa camera.

BTS photo from our 1st day at Blue Cloud Movie Ranch to film the flashback Middle East scenes. Our cinematographer Noah and the Arri Alexa camera.


BTS of Day 3, shooting in downtown Los Angeles

BTS of Day 3, shooting in downtown Los Angeles


Our director Catherine Dent and DP Noah Rosenthal working with our colorist Maxine Gervais (colorist of Harry Potter and more!) and Adam Ohl at Warner Brothers.

Our director Catherine Dent and DP Noah Rosenthal working with our colorist Maxine Gervais (colorist of Harry Potter and more!) and Adam Ohl at Warner Brothers.


My 1st time at the famous East West Studios. Working with Catherine and Eyal and our Music Composer Yunxiang Gao, Music Editor Sharon Smith (Mission Impossible and more!), and Music Engineer Joel Iwataki (Iron Man and more!)

My 1st time at the famous East West Studios. Working with Catherine and Eyal and our Music Composer Yunxiang Gao, Music Editor Sharon Smith (Mission Impossible and more!), and Music Engineer Joel Iwataki (Iron Man and more!)


We were blessed to also have Oscar winners Laurent Kossayan (missing from this pic) and Elliot Tyson (Shawshank Redemption and more!) working on Silk's sound! Pic from Silk's premiere.

We were blessed to also have Oscar winners Laurent Kossayan (missing from this pic) and Elliot Tyson (Shawshank Redemption and more!) working on Silk’s sound! Pic from Silk’s premiere.


Our executive producers Steve and Susie Owen (one of the cutest and coolest couples I know!!) flew in from England to the Silk premiere!

Our executive producers Steve and Susie Owen (one of the cutest and coolest couples I know!!) flew in from England to the Silk premiere!


I'm always stuck between Catherine Dent and Eyal Alony talking to me at the same time j/k. I LOVE working with these two beautiful people!!!

I’m always stuck between Catherine Dent and Eyal Alony talking to me at the same time j/k.  Here we are at the Silk Premiere at AFI.  I LOVE working with these two beautiful people!!!


I have to mention how wonderful everyone is outside of work as well.  The way they treated not only me, but my daughter, is so special.  Thankful.

silk-festival-noor2 silk-festival-noor-1b





Producer/Director/Writer     I     Catherine Dent

Co-Producer/Writer     I     Eyal Alony

Co-Producer     I     Grace Santos (f/k/a Grace Feeney)

Executive Producers     I     Manny Johnson

Executive Producers     I     Susie and Steve Owen

Cinematographer     I     Noah Rosenthal

Editor     I     S. Robyn Wilson

Production Designer     I     Shamim Seifzadeh

Music Composer     I     Yunxiang Gao


Rani                                              Shohreh Aghdashloo

Sameer                                       David Diaan

Aida                                             Saye Yabandeh

Tanya                                          Sabrina Perez

Little T                                         Chelsea Rendon

Lobita                                          Lucia Yumay

Young Sameer                         Wesam Keesh

Young Rani                                Liad Machmali

Rani’s Father                             Samir Younis

Rani’s Mother                           Tamar Machmali

Rani’s childhood friends        Hila Machmali

Gabriela Fontanesi

Gina Fontanesi

Sabrina Moradzadah

Amir                                             Harry Elmayan

Hassan                                        Peter Shaker

Yemen Man                              Arpit Shah

Man driving prius                  Weston Quivey

Sports Announcer                   Ezra Knight


Casting Director     I     Lisa Zagoria

Line Producer     I     Angela Sostre

Co-Producers     I     Nikit Doshi and Brian Kirchoff

Associate Producer     I     Jerome Smith

Unit Production Manager     I     Erin Bartnick

First Assistant Director     I     Christy Busby

Second Assistant Director     I     Nathan Kimball and Bola Ogun

2nd Second Assistant Director     I     Adi Dardik


First Assistant Camera     I     Nito Serna and Mark P. Legaspi

Second Assistant Camera     I     Emily Zenk

Camera Prep     I     Nick Bianchi

Steadicam Operator     I     Jens Piotrowski

DIT     I     Alex Grossfeld

2nd Unit Cinematographer     I     Edd Lukes

Still Photographer     I     Christopher Xavier Lozano

Additional Still Photographer     I     Mylissa Fitzsimmons

Camera Assistant     I     Esther Biggs


Gaffer     I     David Hayball

Best Boy Electric     I     Paul Monroe and Andrew Barton

Assistant Lighting Technicians     I     Stephanie Hauser and Inga Mitinyan

Grips     I     Rene Yescas, Alan Tang, and Miao-ju Chien


Costume Designer     I     Gillian Christie

Wardrobe Supervisor     I     Melissa Walker

Head Make-up     I     Jennifer Zide

Key Make-up     I     Laura Monteleone

Key Hair     I     Dana Kelley


Art Director     I     Nicholas Farmer

Graphic Artist     I     Daniel Giron

Prop Master     I     Daniella Algarate

Art Assistants     I     Alfredo Esquerda and Kenji Taniguchi


Script Supervisor     I     Anne Melville

Studio Teacher     I     Amber York

Catering     I     Full Moon Pickels

Craft Service     I     Gary Matosian

AFI Coordinator     I     Avi Quijada

Production Assistants     I     Jill Kantos, Michelle Andrada, Tyler Hohmann,

Arpit Shah, Weston Quivey, and Melissa Goncalves


Digital Colorist     I     Maxine Gervais

Digital Intermediate Producer     I     Adam Ohl

Digital Intermediate Editor     I     Erik Kaufmann

Assistant Editor     I     Yuki Aizawa


Supervising Sound Editor     I     Laurent Kossayan

Re-recording Mixer     I     Elliot Tyson

Assistant Sound Editor     I     Sarah Bourgeois

Foley Artist     I     John Roesch

Recordist     I     Tim Gomillion

Recordist     I     Ryan Cole

Mixed Stage Engineer     I     Bill Stein


Production Sound Mixer     I     Scott Stolz and Mary Jo Devennery

Boom Operator     I     Brandon Huus


Music Supervisor and Editor     I     Sharon Smith

Music Scoring Mixer     I     Joel Iwataki

Cellist     I     Timothy Landauer



Written by: Yunxiang Gao

Performed by: Amy Keys (vocals), Kamil Rustam, Jean Pierre Arguie

Courtesy of: LaChance Music



Anthony Medina     Ari and Henia Alony     Andrew Meyer     Al and Bobbie Meister

Betty Barlotta/Club Tee Gee      Chris and Fred Fahey      Conrad and Bex Green

Cynthia Grainer      Daniel Nordby      Deb Aquila      Donn Cambern      Ellie Brown

The Fontanesi Family      Fred Dent      Geary McLeod      Glen Mazzara

Harris Spylios      Hunter Via      Jeffery Demunn      Jennifer Meister      Jennifer Young

Joan Darling      Kenny Johnson      Keri and Oliver Lieber      Michael Chiklis

Nancy Malone      Rick Rosenthal      Ron Judkin      Ron Schmidt      Shawn Ryan

Stephanie Sinclair      Toni Graphia      Vida Ghaffari      Virgil Hiltz

Kickstarter Contributors!

My Shield Peeps      The Appleton Street Gang      Electric Entertainment      LA Grip

Cast of Dancing with the Stars and ABC/BBC      The Women of the DWW 2012

Salon Mix      Maid in the USA      Teamsters 630      East West Studios

Stacey Robinson and the 20th-Century Fox Sound Department

Digital Intermediate by Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging


Tamara Hahn for the poster design

Bobby Grubic for the Trailer


And of course, thanks SO much to our kickstarter backers!  This project couldn’t happen without you!

Adam Pate, Adam Stephenson, Agnes Plotkin, Alice Lin, Allison Burnett,

Ari and Henia Alony, Amelia Graf, Amelia Weintraub, Ann H Lung,

Anne Magnuson, Annemie Maertens, April Harding, Arthur Hardy, Aviatrix,

Barrett Benton, Barry J McLoughlin, Benton Collins, Bobbie and Al Meister,

Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch, Brenda Mazzara, Brendan LeFebvre,

Camille McMennamin, Carol H Blakeslee, Caroline Roberts, Cathie Louis,

Cathy Ryan, Chad Landers, Chad Thevenot, Cheryl Dale Ratcliff, Chris Redish,

Chris Shields, Christine Watson, Chuck and Helene Snider,

Constance Tarbox and Lance Windish, Corinne Razma, Cynthia Casey Sirota,

Daniel Carlson, Daniel Christian Muro, Daniel Nordby, Danielle Cain,

Darien Gee, David, David Patchen, Davide Bertrando, Dawn Cullen Jonas,

Dawn Reavis, Dax Pagan, Deborah A. Carroll, Deborah Krentel, Debra Beadle,

Denise Young, Diana Evans, Diane and Drew Carolan, Diane Reeves, Drew Criner,

Drori Family, Effie Pharmakidis, Eleanor Wall, Elizabeth Craft, Elke S. Laughlin,

Ellie, Eloise Wall, Erit Yellen, Faelens, Fred and Chris Fahey, Gearey McLeod,

George W Lodge, Guru Raj, Gus Levy, Heather Jeffcoat, Ines Häufler,

Isa and David Jacob, Ivan Ronaldson, Ivo Raza, Jacqui and Alex Jacobs,

James Abbott, James Ebner, Jr., James Messer, Janis Wilson, Jason Freelin,

Jeanne Veillette Bowerman, Jeff Allinson, Jeffrey C. Dannenberg, Jennifer O’Brien,

Jennifer & Ron, Jennifer Doerle, Jennifer Meister, Jerome, Jim Levine,

Jo Ann Sweezey, Joe Mapes, Joe White, Jon Bachmann, Jory Felice, JP,

Judy Barrett Litoff, Judy Korin, Karen Kennedy, Karen Rousso, Kate Eggert,

Kathleen M Meskill, Kenny Johnson, Keri Leiber, Kevin, Kimberly Kay, Kris Young,

Kristina, Kyle Francis, Lars Eriksson, Laura Bartak, Laurie and Howard Phillips,

LeeAnn Kozan, Leo Abel, Leon Salem, Leslie Longworth-Weil, Lesofa,

Linda Brumfield, Lisa Fontanesi, Lisanne Sartor, Loretta So,

Louis & Kristen DeAngelo Jr. & Family, Lynn Goodwin, Lynn Heinrichs,

Lynnette Gryseels, Maria Silfverschiöld, Maria Urrechaga, Marie Martinette,

Mark Smith, Mark and Helene Snider, Mark Williams, Martin and Rebecca Cate,

Marty and Kimberly Couret, Mary G. Von Dohlen, Mary Rachel Dudley,

Maryanne Benane, Melanie Jo Olson, Melanie Maria Toney, Michael Chiklis,

Michael Sandoval, Michael Small, Michaela Andrä, Michele Vercoutere,

Mike Gantman, Miriam, MrNoncents, Naomi and Manly Calof, Nancy Banks,

Nichole Cortese, Nick Darken, Nick Lacroix, Nora McFarland, Noreen Nash,

Paige Varney, Peter Liguori, Phyllis Gilbert, Piper Michelle, R.David Koepfinger,

Ray Boucreaux, Rebecca Wisocky, Robert Levy, Robert Schlecht, Romona Ripston,

Rosemary Moran Davidson, Sara Kaye, Sarah Brown, Sarah Waits, Sasha Nahr,

Savta Henia Alony, Scott MacDonell and Megan Oberle, Scottie, Seth Chalfin,

Shawn and Cathy Ryan, Shaz Bennett, Shirley Miller, Stephanie Greiner,

Stephanie Moore, Stephen Samuels, Steve Brewster, Steve Niss,

Strauss Family, Stuart Busby, Susan Gottschalk, Susan Hurwitz-Arneson and Marc Arneson,

Susan Levin, Susie and Steven Owen, Susie Schwartz, Tamar Cole,

Tena McKenzie, Thiru, Timothy Albaugh,  Tom Berray, Toni Graphia,

Troy Skwor, Vanita Shastry, Velvet Andrews Smith, Veneeth Iyengar,

Victoria Jorgensen, Viktor van de Draak, Virgil Hiltz, Viviane and Michael Russo,

Walton Goggins, Warren Henry, Wendall Thomas, William Petrick,

William Rubenstein, Wonedwossen Goshu, Yul Spencer, Zaheer Poptani.




Spun and 48 Hour Tips

“Spun” won an Honorable Mention by the Producers Guild of America! 🙂



The Producers Guild of America (p.g.a.) has an annual contest called The Weekend Shorts Challenge (“Competition”).  It has similarities to 48 hour film contests, but this one is nationwide (I’m not sure if there are other nation wide 48 hour contests).  The Competition starts on a Friday at 2pm PST when the p.g.a. releases certain elements that must appear in your film.  Then you have only until 6pm PST on Sunday to write the script, film, edit, music, etc.


You are not allowed to write or film prior to that Friday.  I’m not sure how people could do so anyway – what if one of the required elements totally does not fit with your script?  You want the elements to flow with the story.  Also, it’s simply fun to work with a team and be creative under time pressure.

Things you are allowed to do prior to Friday – plan the non-creative aspects.

Here are my tips for competing in a 48 hour film festival. 

Let me preface these tips by disclosing that I have only competed in this contest two times, but both times made it to the Top 10 in the U.S. and won honorable mentions.  There are probably better experts, but here’s what I think:

Read the rules carefully:

– You don’t want to get disqualified for a silly mistake!  I know some teams that missed an element or that missed the deadline because they didn’t read the tech requirements.

Building Your Team:

– Choose not only talented people, but also people that can work fast and under pressure!  This particular contest has an extreme deadline!  You can’t have people that don’t know how to make fast decisions or work swiftly.

– The email I sent to everyone that I’ve worked with in the past contained the following information:

  • Dates Needed (Also see timeline below)
  • About The Contest (Be brief and put in a link to the contest)
  • About Eyal & me.  Pitch how great of a producer you are!  You want talented professionals on your team! One of the Contest rules is that no one can be paid.  So you have to convince talented people to join you for free!  I’m blessed to have won awards and to also have Eyal Alony as a producing partner.  More about him here.  I also am very passionate about producing so I think people can sense that and therefore I’ve always had wonderful teammates.  So thankful to them.
  • No pay because it is against the rules (Be upfront so you don’t waste your time or their time)
  • You will get food on set!
  • The Crew Positions Needed
  • If you are not available, do you have referrals?

– The crew positions:

  • I’ve produced films with as little as 5 crew members to as many as 55.  For this particular contest, you want enough people so there is no lag time when moving equipment, but you don’t want too many people that will slow you down or draw attention.  These are the positions I think you should have for this contest:
  1. Writer
  2. Director
  3. UPM
  4. AD – I cannot stress how important it is to have an experienced AD that can command the set and schedule!
  5. DP
  6. AC
  7. DIT
  8. Gaffer
  9. Grip
  10. PA
  11. Sound Mixer & Boom
  12. Production Designer
  13. Hair Artist that can also help with continuity
  14. Makeup Artist
  15. 2nd Unit DP
  16. 2nd Unit Gaffer
  17. 2nd Unit Grip
  18. 2nd Unit Sound
  19. Editor – This person must be able to work well even without much sleep.  I think this person should be on set the whole time and not just start at the end of production / beginning of post production. It will be faster for him/her if s/he already knows the story and shots.
  20. Sound Designer
  21. Colorist
  22. Music Composer
  • If you know that you want to have stunts in your film, then please have trained professionals on your team!  I’ve been an actor on sets that didn’t have this and it was crazy unsafe.  We chose not to add this stress for this contest, but I  would love to try it in the future.
  • Make sure you discuss the 2nd cam option with your Director.  I feel it can save a lot of time to have two.  However, it can also slow down the process if s/he has never worked that way.


– Approach #1:  This is the approach for “Spun”.  Pick the actors that you, the writer, and the director have worked with in the past and want to work with again.  Keep the number small.  So this becomes another element for the writer – he/she has to use the elements that the p.g.a. provides on Friday night and also must use only these particular actors.

– Approach #2: This is the approach for “Change to Spare” the year before.  I sent an email to all of my actor friends and asked them to be available from Saturday 1am to Sunday 11am, but they are not guaranteed a role since we don’t know what the writer will come up with.  As a producer, I want the writer to have freedom to write the best script and not be limited by having to write for certain actors.  But as an actor, I feel bad to make so many people hold that weekend open and they ended up not getting cast.


– Of course my favorite camera is the Arri Alexa.  However, this particular contest does not have the luxury of time.  So we used two Cannon 5D.


– Ask your team to send pictures to you of locations that they have access to so your writer and director can view them.  Would be great to have tons of regular and unique locations so they have wonderful options when the contest begins.

– Find out about restrictions, restrooms, parking, drive time all ahead of time.  You may need to eliminate one of the locations before the writer falls in love with it.

Create a timeline for the weekend

– Things came up so we were not able to stick to this timeline but I think it is important to at least start with this or something similar in order to have goals for the whole weekend:


1:45pm – Writer, Director, Producer meet at Writer’s preferred place

2:00pm – PGA emails the constraints/elements

2:00-6pm – Writer writes (Director and Producer there in case s/he needs to bounce ideas off others)

6:00pm – UPM, Production Designer, 1st AD, DP arrive and discuss script and tone and needs with Writer and Director

7:00pm – UPM will e-mail the actors and crew the call times, driving directions, script (actors, the script might change slightly but not much), wardrobe list, prop list, etc ; Actors start memorizing lines and work on characters.

7:00pm – Director starts story boards shot list etc and work with AD on more precise schedule


7:00am – Approx cast and crew ARRIVAL TIME ; everyone that has not signed yet, please meet AD first in order to fill out and sign contracts (work for hire agreements; releasing name and likeness; SAG; PGA paperwork, etc)

7:30am to 7pm – Shoot (food breaks of course)

7:00pm – cast and crew dismissed (but our wonderful editor who has already been working all day will continue)

10pm – editor finishes rough cut and sends to director and producer for notes


7am – 10am – Editor and Director time; Locked Picture complete

10am – 12pm – Music Composer

12pm – 2pm – Sound Design

2pm – 4pm – Editor last stuff

5pm – DEADLINE.  Video must have been already uploaded to withoutabox, not uploading.


Well those are my tips for now.  I’ll try to think of more.

Have fun!!!

The only information that the p.g.a. releases prior to that Friday is the name of the producer that the contest is honoring.  The year we entered, the contest was in honor of Laura Ziskin. Embarrassed to admit that I did not know anything about her before this contest.  How could that be when her films are amazing! Prior to the start of the contest, my producing partner and I researched her life and films because we tried to guess what the elements would be, but realized that’s impossible since she has done so much.  Check out more information about her here:



For the 2013 contest, held in honor of producer Laura Ziskin, the elements of the assignment are as follows:


Setting: RESTAURANT or CAR.  Many of Laura’s films feature memorable scenes set in restaurants (e.g., As Good as it GetsSpider-Man) or cars (e.g., No Way OutPretty Woman).  Films are not required to take place exclusively within a restaurant or car but the main action of the film must take place in one of these settings.

Story Elements: a BOUQUET OF FLOWERS, a SPIDER, a NECKTIE, a CREDIT CARD, an AMERICAN FLAG.  Each of these objects has played a key role in one of Laura’s films.  Entries in the contest must include at least three of these items in some fashion. Furthermore, at least one of the items must have a central or important function in the story.

Theme/Motif:  Films must utilize one of the following motifs or themes: (1) AN UNLIKELY COUPLE (Laura’s films frequently paired dynamic, magnetic or ambitious women with male counterparts who were reticent or withdrawn, and even in some cases outright misanthropic or anti-social); or (2) HEROES OR ANTI-HEROES? (Characters in Laura’s films often maintain our sympathy [and even complicity] despite making choices that are evidently selfish, manipulative or destructive, requiring us to [re]consider the nature of our attachment to and investment in these figures and their stories.)


So what did we come up with?




The "Spun" team at the Producers Guild Weekend Challenge screening of the Top 10 films.

The “Spun” team at the Producers Guild Weekend Challenge screening of the Top 10 films.


That's me!

That’s me!


The "Spun" actors (Steve Brewster, Grace Santos, Wesam Keesh) at the Producers Guild of America Weekend Challenge's screening of the Top 10 films.

The “Spun” actors (Steve Brewster, Grace Santos, Wesam Keesh) at the Producers Guild of America Weekend Challenge’s screening of the Top 10 films.


Eyal and me crossing our fingers before the p.g.a. announces the winners!

Eyal and me crossing our fingers before the p.g.a. announces the winners!


The producers of the Top 10 finalists of the Producers Guild of America Weekend Challenge. (I'm in the orange!)

The producers of the Top 10 finalists of the Producers Guild of America Weekend Challenge. (I’m in the orange!)


BTS photo of "Spun" Director (Adam Rosenbaum), Editor (Dan Alvarado), Assistant Director (Adi Dardik), Writer/Producer (Eyal Alony) bright and early at 7am in Montrose, California.

BTS photo of “Spun” Director (Adam Rosenbaum), Editor (Dan Alvarado), Assistant Director (Adi Dardik), Writer/Producer (Eyal Alony) bright and early at 7am in Montrose, California.


BTS photo of me talking to our wonderful Makeup/Hair Supervisor (Yvette Mikkelson) and Art Director (Gabrielle Giraud).

BTS photo of me talking to our beautiful Makeup/Hair Supervisor (Yvette Mikkelson) and Art Director (Gabrielle Giraud).


"Spun" 2nd Unit DP (and my legs lol)

“Spun” 2nd Unit DP (and my legs lol)


Filming the last scene first before too many people get to the shopping area.

Filming the last scene first before too many people get to the shopping area.


When you have to quickly get a shot and equipment is not nearby

When you have to quickly get a shot and equipment is not nearby.


Finished at the first location in time. Company move to location 2. Our Director and AD thinking!

Finished at the first location in time. Company move to location 2. Our Director and AD thinking!


BTS photo of "Spun" Gaffer (Inga Mitinyan) and Grip (Miao Chien).

BTS photo of “Spun” Gaffer (Inga Mitinyan) and Grip (Miao Chien).


BTS photo of "Spun" Sound Mixers, Ashley Maria and Jay Menez.

BTS photo of “Spun” Sound Mixers, Ashley Maria and Jay Menez.


That's a Wrap! And on time! Group photo of the "Spun" team.

That’s a Wrap! And on time! Group photo of the “Spun” team.




WATCH “SPUN” and the other Top 10 from the 2013 Competition:


After the contest, we also posted “Spun” on Funny Or Die:





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Directed by Adam Rosenbaum

Written by Eyal Alony

Produced by Eyal Alony and Grace Santos (f/k/a Feeney)

Cinematography by Steve Carter

Edited by and Co-Produced by Dan Alvarado

Music Composed by Adam Gubman


Renee – Steve Brewster

Ida – Grace Santos (f/k/a Feeney)

Louis – Wesam Keesh

Line Producer     Marc Harris

Assistant Director     Adi Dardik

Art Director     Gabrielle Giraud

Sound Mixer     Ashley Maria

Gaffer     Inga Mitinyan

Assistant Camera     Christopher Bucca Taylor

Makeup/Hair Supervisor     Yvette Mikkelson

Production Assistant     Jessica Jazeyeri

Second Unit DP    Peter Pearce

Second Unit AC     Miao Chien

Second Unit Sound Mixer     Jay Menez

Sound Designer     Ashley Maria

Production Companies:

Old Joe Productions

Blind Vision Films

Ethos Pictures

Special Thanks:

for the last minute location help.

Steve Carter, Dan Alvarado, Jay Menez, Ashley Maria for supplying the equipment.

The filmmakers wish to thank their families for allowing the 50 hours of insanity.


No spiders were harmed during the making of this production, though some hearts were broken.


“This film/video was made for the Producers Guild of America Weekend Shorts Challenge.”

In memory of Producer Laura Ziskin 

© 2013 Ethos Pictures LLC