Sunday, April 10, 2016

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT: Adrian Miles

My name is Adrian Miles. My mother is a first generation Mexican American/Chicana. My father is Black, Cherokee, and Irish. I was taught to identify as all that I am, whereas schools and my peers told me otherwise. When you're the “smallest," and youngest, kid in class and become tired of fighting to correct people, you give into societal pressures. In order to survive one's environment, you learn to adapt; sometimes against your own will.

Although I was raised by a loving single mother, I was drawn to the gang culture that dominates Los Angeles, California; the city I was born and raised. All my friends throughout middle school, and the short period of time in high school, were either skaters, graffiti writers/taggers, drug dealers, or gang bangers. Some dabbled in everything…which is the category I fell into. At the age of 13, I was “jumped in” to a gang. At the same time, I was introduced to Kundalini Yoga, DJ'ing, Capoeira, and books such as “Autobiography of a Yogi” and the “Autobiography of Malcolm X.” At the age of 15, I found myself at a crossroads: Do I choose to pursue the road that would eventually be the death of me, or choose the higher path that was always beckoning? I chose the latter.

Soon after, my mother moved my family of 3, including my sibling, Ella, to New York City. We began training with a Grandmaster of Capoeira Angola and I also  began taking an interest in photography. I got my first point and shoot digital camera for my 16th birthday. Since then, I have been documenting everything from punk shows, Capoeira events, music festivals, and protests. To working with freelance models and capturing the essences of international cities and their inhabitants.

I owe my love of photography and film to my mother and father. My father is a screenwriter, and my mother wrote, produced, and starred in, Pas De Deux, my directorial debut. Pas De Deux is a story of self-love and self-empowerment. It is about how we relate to each other, personally or romantically, can be seen as a dance. A dance of two; pas de deux. The lesson of this story is to enjoy the most important dance: the solo…the dance with one's Self. There is no dialogue in this short film. It solely relies on the art of visual storytelling.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

TEAM: Graphic Design

Terese Marie Kelly is an artist mom thriving in the heart of Los Angeles. She brings a bright creative edge to her consulting work offering services in copywriting, content creation and blog management. She has recently added graphic design, photo editing, and social media marketing to her repertoire. Her work can be seen on our film poster above. She offers free consultations and may be reached at tmkpublishingconsult@gmail.com


Thursday, February 25, 2016

ARTIST STATEMENT: Luz

My name is Luz Emma Cañas Madrigal. I am first generation Mexican American. How I came to be? That is a daunting question I aim to divulge in my forthcoming memoir. But in a word…destiny. In the early 1970’s, because most of the youth had been drafted into the Vietnam War, there was a shortage of medical professionals in the United States. The government invited international doctors to do their specialty at Mt. Sinai Cleveland Clinic, OH. My father was one of the doctor’s selected and it is there I was born and one of the main reasons my family decided to stay in the U.S. When I was five, my parents moved us (my elder sister, brother and I) to Los Angeles after my father was offered a teaching position at UCLA. They eventually bought a house in the suburbs where I soon learned that my family’s economic status granted me access to the finer things but not white privilege. I became politicized the day I was called a “nigger” for the first time. I was 8 years old. Too young and fragile to stick up for myself, at the time, that word was absorbed into my body and became a part of my being. It was then that my identity as an Afro-Mestizo began to take form and my need to resist oppression began. I was constantly reminded of my subordinate position in society both overtly and covertly through racial slurs and insinuations. It became painfully obvious that racism existed during my training as a classical ballet dancer. Throughout my training, I was praised for my ability and my physique. And yet, I was not chosen to attend the summer intensive I had trained the majority of my life for. I knew, in my heart, it was because I was not the “right” skin color. I started lightening my skin and my self loathing manifested itself in depression and eating disorders. Finally, I was accepted into the Pacific Northwest Ballet and upon arrival I noticed that I was one of two girls-of-color out of about 200. The other girl was also going to attend the Dance Theater of Harlem. She had options whereas I did not: I was not white enough for New York City Ballet and not black enough for Dance Theater of Harlem. At 16, I altered my dreams of becoming a ballerina and decided to become a Dance Movement Therapist. At the time, my parents were embroiled in a messy divorce that is in litigation to this day, almost forty years, exhausting the family’s financial resources. Like most teens, I acted out. I threw my tutu to the wind and became a dancer in MTV music videos. I partied with R & B and Hip Hop artists that were famous in the early 90’s then became pregnant by the time I was 19. My family and society brushed me off as a statistic: an unmarried teen mother. It became my personal mission to prove everyone, including myself, wrong. After two years at a junior college, I transferred to UCLA and received my undergraduate degree in Chicano Studies at UCSB. From there, I became a Graduate Fellow and received my Masters degree in Dance Movement Therapy at UCLA. I became a pioneer in the use of Dance Movement Therapy in Early Intervention and wrote about my experience in my book, “Kinnecting: Healing the Difficult Child with the Creative Arts.” Writing has always been a way for me to process my emotions and experiences. I began writing poetry as I went deeper into my spiritual practices. I continued to explore other movement modalities which included West African Dance, Modern, Yoga and Capoeira Angola. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art disguised as a dance because it became a means of liberation of enslaved Africans from colonial oppression. My passion of the art led me to move to New York City and eventually to Brazil where I met my husband, my last Capoeira master. He was murdered almost five years ago and I have been writing to process the fallout surrounding his death. Before he was killed, I started writing him poems in an attempt to start a different dialogue between us. After his passing, I published a book of poetry, “Divan of the Infidel.” I have been giving continuity to Capoeira he passed onto me through the founding of Capoeira Muçurumim. Our group became artists-in-residence at the infamous Ground Zero Mosque, which in actuality was an Islamic center. We served as liaisons between the religious and secular community during the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. Currently, I am a teaching artist in Capoeira for the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute leading cultural arts workshops for the Department of Education, NYC, and I am a mentor for homeless LGBTQ youth at the Reciprocity Foundation. After all that my children and I have been through, writing has been a means of self-reflection, validation, and healing. There are some things that one goes through that can only be confided in blank pages, until one is ready to share them with the world.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

THE TEAM: Photographer & Production Assistant

Stephen Mondesir is a cinematographer, photographer, and graphic designer. Freelancing across New York, he manages Colorway Productions, a team of independent media producers and artists. Majoring in television and film production, Stephen strives to be a narrative film editor. Currently, he's working on a short film for Campus Moviefest and filming the feature film, “Seasons".

THE TEAM: Make-up

Vernell Spann is certified in makeup, special effects makeup and hairstyling from the MakeUp Designory, NYC. Her work has been seen at Mercedes-Benz N.Y. Fashion Week, NY Bridal Fashion Week, on television, in web series and short films. She currently hosts makeup training events and private lessons at her NY studio. Vernell empowers women by teaching them how to improve self-esteem and enhance their beauty using make-up.

More on Vernell Spann here

THE TEAM: Theme music

To ring the bell of love in the hearts of those with ears to hear" was the founding intention on which "A Race of Angels" was built. Yeofi Andoh (singer/songwriter) dances with a revolving cast of partners in this musical collective. Originally from the UK and currently residing in Los Angeles.

More on Yeofi and A Race of Angels here

THE TEAM: Original music

Todd Simon is a Trumpeter/Arranger/Producer who's worked with the likes of Kelis, Lauryn Hill, TV On The Radio, Ziggy Marley, Madlib, The Gaslamp Killer, Quantic, Quadron, RHYE, Quantic, Antibalas + many more. His personal project, the African - Jazz ensemble Ethio Cali (ethiocali.com), has taken LA by storm with their interpretations of Ethio-Jazz and Afrobeat! Todd’s recent mixtape project, Jazz On 45, is currently featured on OkayPlayer and Wax Poetics.

More on Todd Simon here.

THE TEAM: Actress

N'Tirzah al Rephaim is a healing Performing Artist. A classically trained vocalist & pianist, N'Tirzah combines her passion for music with her gifts of composition, dance & choreography, poetry, prose, teaching, and vocal therapy/coaching. N’Tirzah is currently in production working on her EP Entitled. "For Real," due to be released in the Spring of 2016.

More on N'Tirzah al Rephaim here.

THE TEAM: Dancer/Actor

Michael Bishop, graduated from Belhaven University in 2011 with a BFA in Dance and Choreography. He started his training in ballet, modern and choreography at age 21. Michael was a recipient of the Bezalel award for outstanding artistic achievement. He moved to New York upon graduation and began training at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and toured internationally with the European tour of West Side Story. At present, Michael has plans of opening up his own company and outreach program that brings the arts to impoverished children.

More on Michael Bishop here

THE TEAM: Production Designer

Lee-Ann Arjoon is a Production Designer, Set Designer and Stylist who has worked on short films, art films, fashion shoots, stop motion animation, TV and a feature film. In 2015, she served as festival producer for the stateside launch of Paris-based short documentary film festival, Megacities Shortdocs, in NYC. Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, where she first acquired a taste for culture, art and nature, her childhood was immersed in the colorful hues and sounds of the Caribbean. Now splitting her time between New York, Paris and the West Indies, she is working on a passion project; documenting the struggles, beauty and diversity of Caribbean life and culture through photography and film.

More on Lee-Ann here

THE TEAM: Creative Director

Home-schooled since the age of six, Ella Quinn was able to focus on her passions: music, film and photography. Ella uses film as a form of escapism because in film "anything is possible." Ella will be trying her hand in acting and directing a short in the Bedtime Story series. Ella served as Creative Director on Pas de Deu. Contributing to the fine details of production from script editing to wardrobe selection. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

THE TEAM: Writer/Producer/Dancer/Actress

Luz Emma Cañas was a Graduate Fellow in the Department of World Arts and Cultures, U.C.L.A while attaining her master's degree in Dance Movement Therapy. She teaches rehabilitative movement and Kundalini Yoga to seniors for the Department of the Aging and is also a teaching artist in Capoeira Angola for the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute. Currently, she is writing and producing a series of short films for her body positivity program, Boudoir Ballet, that integrates her knowledge of yoga, dance, Pilates and Capoeira.

THE TEAM: Director

Adrian Miles was born in Los Angeles, California in 1991. In addition to having lived on the West and East Coast of the U.S., he also lived in Mexico and Brazil. Living in these metropolitan and rural areas, and being surrounded by different cultures, lifestyles, fashion, and music, broadened his interests and developed his appreciation for art and diversity. In his work, he attempts to capture quintessential urban city moments, including but not limited to taste-makers, eccentrics, mavens, and future icons. Almost ten years later, he is exploring film through DCTV’s Young Men of Color Media Program. 

More on Adrian Miles here.

THE SYNOPSIS: Pas de Deux

PAS DE DEUX is the first in a series of short films entitled BEDTIME STORIES celebrating women of color experiencing personal transformation through dance within the privacy of their boudoir. PAS DE DEUX is defined as: 1: a dance or figure for two performers. 2: an intricate relationship or activity involving two parties or things. The literal French translation is a step for two. This story follows Gigi, a free spirited woman, that moves through NYC as a trumpeted “being” accompanies her. During a lunch meeting with a girlfriend, she is called to “dance” by a lover, who ultimately does not follow through on an afternoon tryst. But all is not lost because she discovers that the best dance is danced solo. This story is about self-love and reveling in the ecstasy of one’s own company. And yet, from the interaction between Gigi and her personified cherub, are we ever truly alone?