Saturday April 29, 2023
This fundraising event is called Color and Light, An Evening of Short Films is on Saturday, April 29th at 8pm. Curated by Board Member Jonathon Saia, it's going to be a special evening featuring eight short films, each running 3 to 18 minutes in length.
Doors open at 7:30pm. There will be a thirty minute Q&A after the program. That will be followed by an Afterparty for all those who attend.
The suggested donation is $20, which can be purchased at the link above. Your donation is tax deductible. Don't miss this special evening celebrating filmmakers Iah Bearden-Vrai, Andy Dubick, Sam Gianfala, Ileana Lam, Jonathan Rowan, Rippin Sindher, Jonathon Saia, and Anlan Tao.
Click on poster to read more about the filmmakers.
Written and Directed by Jonathon Saia
A world famous writer applies to be a waitress at a diner, spilling the intimate details of her life in the process.
All of the filmmakers will be present and participate in the short Q&A after the screening.
You are welcome to continue the conversation with the creatives at the Afterparty.
This film festival is recommended for adults and children above the age of 14.
There is some language, portrayed drug use and adult themes in some of the films.
Alcohol and Beer will be for sale before the show and at the Afterparty, which will include light snacks.
This is a fundraiser for the Morgan-Wixson theatre and our Fixin' The Morgan-Wixson Campaign.
All proceeds will go to support our production and education efforts.
The Santa Monica Theatre Guild is a 501(c)(3) [non-profit] organization, EIN of 95-6045356 for tax purposes,
with a DBA of the Morgan-Wixson Theatre.
Written by Rippin Sindher & Matt Gamarra
Directed by Rippin Sindher
Rippin Sindher: I didn’t know I could make movies. I grew up in a small farm town with South Asian immigrant parents who sold insurance and worked in a factory that expected me to be a lawyer or go into medicine. I was always a storyteller, but had no resources or knowledge on how to tell stories. I used to have this box with odds and ends like pipe cleaners and broken knick knacks, every random piece of scrap I could find in the house. I would lose myself for hours in that box, creating figurines or whatever I could from those objects. And when I was a teenager, I got a job at the Director Guild of America. I worked in every department, six days a week, learning about different parts of the business. It was my film school.
Art is so cathartic for me. Everything I make in my life represents where I am or what I want to speak to. But Broken Drawer is definitely my most nakedly autobiographical film. I’ve been grieving the death of my mom for 20 years, but wasn’t ready to put it into my art because I wasn’t ready to release it. Being in a dark place is not something you just snap out of. And we hold onto our loved one’s objects or heirlooms because we think if we let them go, then the person attached to them will be gone too. But there comes a time when you have to let those things go so you can move on. And hopefully you have people around you to hold your hand through the process. This film explores that idea. And releasing this grief with my brother, who plays the lead, was really moving.
Broken Drawer is on the festival circuit. But you really have to think about your end goal when you go into the festival circuit. The accolades are not going to validate the project. I know it feels that way in Hollywood sometimes, but outside of Sundance, no “Best in Show” is really going to be a huge leap for your career. So you focus on niche festivals to build communities instead. That’s what we’ve done with most of our projects, including Broken Drawer. So the plan for this from the beginning has been to expand it into a feature. And I’m working on that script now.
The Cat Burglar
Written by Andy Dubick and Erin Brownett
Directed by Andy Dubick
Andy Dubick: Well, Erin and I are cat lovers. And cats themselves are naturally comedic creatures. Our friend has a really adorable cat and thought that it would be the perfect star for our next film.
I grew up in LA and worked as a professional actor. I went to NYU for Musical Theatre and got into working behind the scenes on film with friends in college. I started writing parts for myself so I could have more roles and really loved the filmmaking process, which led me to directing shorts. My main interest is writing sketch comedy and I’d love to work in television. Currently, I’m a PA on an NBC sitcom. So that’s a great atmosphere for me to be in and one in which I can hopefully move up the ladder. I guess I’d think of The Cat Burglar as more of a comedy sketch as opposed to a film, per se.
What I love about filmmaking is that you can do whatever you want. It can be new and fresh everytime. Different styles, different languages, and you can still connect to them.
Written and Directed by Sam Gianfala
Sam Gianfala: I saw John Carpenter’s Halloween when I was 11. It was the first horror film I had ever seen and knew that I wanted to make horror films from then on. They force their audience to want to look away, but can’t. There’s something special about that power. So I looked for other movies to get that feeling, became hooked, and wanted to recreate that.
Jordan Peele said in some interview that he would always have Black people as the leads in his films. He makes horror films so to have Black horror leads is very uncommon. And I thought to myself, “Why can’t I do that with LGBT people with horror?” So I made it my niche. And how do you get much gayer than drag queens stealing wigs from each other.
Fierce! is my first film and was a school project during the pandemic so I had very strict COVID protocols. I needed to come up with some kind of horror story that I could do with two people, but keep them apart for as long as possible. So I landed on a cat-and-mouse chase where they would just have to be together at the end.
I didn’t film this as a comedy. I filmed it like a horror movie. The canted angles, the crazy lighting. I knew the drag would make it inherently funny and so I decided to visually contradict that to make the gap between the comedy and the horror that much wider, which strengthened both of those elements.
I’d love people to take away from this film that horror can be more diverse than it is now. Fierce! has two gay leads and one of them is a person of color. We can and should do more of this. And that drag is not a crime.
Written and Directed by Jonathon Saia
Jonathon Saia: My grandma loved movies. She had well over 1000 and every time I would visit, I would go through her handwritten “catalog” and pick out something for us to watch. Her taste was vast: Eraser, Laura, Friday the 13th, The Godfather, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, Planet of the Apes, Chinatown, you name it. It really showed me the spectrum of what a film could be.
When I was in college, I rented two movies over the same weekend that changed my life: Pink Flamingos and Annie Hall. John Waters showed me that any strange thing I could imagine could be a film and Woody Allen showed me that my life could be fodder for my art. All of my work is a combination of giving the audience something they have never seen before and showing them a piece of my soul.
Interview was inspired by Andy Warhol’s The Nude Restaurant. I adore Warhol. His films are lo-fi and challenging and usually sexual and/or queer in some form. The Nude Restaurant is a film where Viva talks directly to the camera for about 45 minutes, word vomiting her memoir on the audience. I couldn’t look away and needed to make something like it ASAP.
I knew I wanted to make something with my friend, Tuesday Thomas (a John Waters’ heroine if there ever was one), and wrote a character I thought she could play, but infused it with more heart and pain than stand-up comics usually get to show. I wanted to see what she could do as an actress. Taking Warhol’s trauma purge one step further, I hired two more actresses to interpret the same material and then intercut their versions to tell one story. Their takes were so different that it created an extremely three dimensional woman.
Memoir is my favorite form of storytelling and film is really just a vehicle for those thoughts, sometimes fictionalized, but usually not. I am a documentarian at heart. Interview borrows the memoir/monologue style of The Nude Restaurant, and voices many of my own thoughts and fears about art and love and meaning and how we choose to connect [or not] with each other.
The Knock Knock Man
Written by Jonathan Rowan & Charles Andrews
Directed by Jonathan Rowan
Jonathan Rowan: I was an actor/songwriter and so I’ve always been on the other side of the camera. In college, I studied law and dance, and was working on the production side of things on campus. I had some editing classes and realized I liked that part of the storytelling process. My mentor challenged me to make a film and so I made a feature called, Slasher. Usually, you start with shorts so that was a huge undertaking right out of the gate. I took it to some festivals and people seemed to like what I was doing. So I just kept making more films, trying to get in where I fit in.
Jurassic Park and T2 were amazing experiences to witness in the cinema as a child. We had never seen anything like them before. They pushed the envelope. They showed me to dream big. And even though I don’t have the budgets they do, I strive to make ambitious films with the resources I do have.
I have made about 15 films and they always strive for raw, honest storytelling with a message, using very crisp visuals. But The Knock Knock Man was part of the 48 Hour Film Festival. They give you a genre, a sub-genre, and a few other stipulations and then you have to write, shoot, edit, and turn in your film in two days. We got “horror comedy creature feature spoof”. I hadn’t made any of those types of films before, but I never want to be boxed in as a filmmaker. It was a great challenge. Our DP dropped out two days before and we ended up just shooting it on an iPhone. This festival is not for the faint of heart.
When people watch The Knock Knock Man, I just want them to have a good time - and appreciate the Easter eggs we laid throughout in homage to the horror films that came before us.
Motion with Some White
Written and Directed by
Iah Bearden-Vrai: I started as an actor and got so tired of going to film auditions that had terrible scripts. And thought, “Well, I can do that. Why not just write my own? I’ll go to film school and learn the technical stuff and then I don’t have to rely on anybody else’s vision.” And that’s what I did. I asked everyone to teach me how to do things like I was a child. I volunteered my time for so many other filmmakers, learning the grip and the camera, and then cashed in those chips when I was finally ready to make a film of my own. But I would definitely say I am still an actor first. That’s where everything stems from. I think Motion with Some White is my 30th film or so.
Terrence Malick is a big inspiration to me. His films are like poetry. The storytelling isn’t necessarily linear, nor always wraps up neatly. You don’t always know what they are about, but they give you a very specific feeling. They are like dreams. Those are the types of stories I want to tell and be a part of. That’s also how life is. It doesn’t always make sense and is seldom linear.
I got the idea for the film a few years ago. It was after the Malibu fires and I remember driving through that part of town and seeing the scorched Earth and getting these visions of a really beautiful bride surrounded by darkness. I started wondering what that darkness could be. I was living by Paramount and went to a nearby karaoke dive bar and just sketched out a bunch of ideas. That night, I went home and wrote a draft of the script. It was terrible. It went through about 26 drafts until I felt like it was ready.
I knew I wanted to shoot the bulk of this in one shot so the actors could really stay in the heaviness of the material. This required us to have it down cold, like a play. We had six weeks of rehearsals, three to four times a week. We did a lot of improv, which allowed us to sit with the silences. I encouraged those moments of silence so the audience could also sit in contemplation. We did a few camera rehearsals and then shot it three times. I think we ended up using the second take.
Written and Directed by Ileana Lam
Ileana Lam: The TV show, Cowboy Bebop, really introduced me to the breadth of animation. It’s this film noir meets sci-fi series and just a really singular experience unto itself, yet still speaks to a broader audience. I have a lot of respect for people who are independent thinkers and creators who are one-person-bands. John Hirschfeld and vewn are two people who bring their very specific voices and views to the world of animation and are equipped to tackle every part of the process.
Out was my senior thesis. I had been a part of other students’ projects and made exercises before, but this was the first film I ever developed and made on my own from start to finish. It spanned the entirety of my senior year and we tackled different elements each semester.
I do paint, as well, and the medium I choose to tell my story really boils down to: “Do I want this to move?” Animation is also a very time consuming medium. Everything has to be created by hand and by computer in multiple stages. And I struggle sitting with a work for a long time. Usually, I want to express something and be done. So film forces me to negotiate time and patience and work through that anxiety. It requires extra time and care so it helps you really flesh out the idea. Because you can literally do anything, you also have to give yourself rules on what exists and what doesn’t. Which is ironically liberating as an artist to set up parameters for the art.
I wanted to tell a story about gaining confidence, especially as a queer person. And drag is an art form that really requires exaggeration, as does animation. So the story and the medium were a perfect match. I also wanted to prove that a queer animated film could just exist and hopefully be embraced as any other animated project.
She & He
Written and Directed by Anlan Tao
Anlan Tao: I started out in the theater, but it’s so hard to convey nuanced emotions in the theater. You can’t see facial expressions in the same way. And so in the theater you have to do things more heightened for it to read. Film allows its audience space to come to those emotional moments with subtlety. And that type of storytelling appeals to me.
I had made one prior film to She & He in China, which was in Mandarin. So this was my first English language film. I had to lean on my professors and the actors to let me know if the dialogue sounded how a native speaker might say things.
Ang Lee really inspires me. I think he does a really great job of showing Eastern culture to a Western audience, which is something I really want to explore in my work. I started my artistic life as a theater actor and Ang Lee started his as a theater director so his journey to filmmaking speaks to me.
The character “She” was inspired by my grandmother. They are both optimistic women, always smiling, despite whatever sad thing may be happening. The story was about my very mixed feelings of what is going to happen after I graduate from USC. Will I have to go back to China? Will I have to say goodbye to my friends?
She & He is about normal people. People that usually get passed by or not paid much attention to. But we all have a story to tell. We all have desires and dreams and complex feelings and mixed emotions. I wanted to remind the audience of that.