What Lies West
WHAT LIES WEST is a feature about female friendship, the need for adventure, and the chances we wish we could take. With a cast and crew more than 80% female, this film focuses heavily on advancing women-led stories and women in all areas of film. When was the last time you took a real adventure?
Hometown Heroes Rally
Inclusion StatementIn the first half of our shoot, WHAT LIES WEST had a cast and crew more than 80% female. Our team included female producers, production managers, writer/director, camera crew, makeup/hair/costuming, and G&E. In the second half, our cast will include diverse roles and two more big female parts!
About The Project
2017 is a bleak year for just about anyone. As we've struggled to find a way to help, any way to help, we've found ourselves getting more and more exhausted. As we march to rallies and donate to the ACLU, it begins to feel like we're spending all our time chasing fires -- trying to put bad things out, rather than adding anything positive.
When What Lies West burst into our minds, it was in response to this thought: the world is awful, and girls are still growing up. All of the things we experienced as adolescents -- love, isolation, embarrassment, euphoria-- all of those are still happening to teens around the world. We might not have survived the teenage years without films and shows that spoke to us, that made us feel like we mattered; movies like Stand By Me and Now and Then, shows like My So-Called Life. They spoke to us when nothing in our real lives got through. Even in a time where it feels like the country is falling apart, we still need to send out the messages, and lucky for us, this is what we trained for.
The other driving force behind What Lies West is the natural beauty of Sonoma County. Often overlooked for its fancier cousin, Napa, Sonoma County remains a place of deep dark oak forest, shimmering rivers, and adventure behind every corner. Born and raised in Santa Rosa, writer/director Jessica Ellis grew up exploring the hidden depths of the county. something that was common to all SoCo kids of her age. It was never hard to believe that magic, myth, and mystery lurked just behind the next oak tree, and the permissiveness of child-rearing in the '80s and '90s allowed her to explore it to her heart's content.
While Sonoma County has long been a favorite of great filmmakers from Hitchcock to Coppola, it has often been as a backdrop to the story. What Lies West takes the role of Sonoma County further than ever before. The forests, parks, and trails of the county are an essential character in the story; drawn in by the irresistable beauty of the region, our heroines set out to find adventure in the west, a passion generations of Sonoma County residents can surely recognize.
Adventures are key to our growth and at the core of our evolution. In the darkest times, people have always set forth on journeys to bring a cure, a boon, or a light back to the world. While there are many crises to focus on, and many causes that need help, we can't ever forget how necessary those journeys are.
Join us in finding out What Lies West.
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About This Team
Jessica Ellis, Writer/Director:
A graduate of UCLA and AFI with degrees in playwriting and screenwriting. Past accolades include the Alfred P Sloan Science in Film grant and the Women in Film grant. Her scripts have won at the California Film awards and the Creative World Awards. She was a 2016 semi-finalist for the Nickelodeon TV writing program, and has developed pilots with Lawrence Mark Productions and Robert Cort Productions. She is a story editor on the forthcoming digital series, Local Air. A Sonoma County native, Jessica's career-long dream has been to make movies in her home region.
Sean Carroll, Cinematographer:
A graduate of Point Park University and AFI, Sean is the owner of Iguana Digital Cinema, a camera rental company. Past work includes steadycam operating for Lifetime's original movie High School Holiday Reunion, independent feature Waitingin the Wings, and commercials for Nike. Camera team work highlights includes Sons of Anarchy, YouTube series Side Effects, and several comedy shorts for Funny or Die.
Nixolette Ellis, Actor:
Nicolette graduated from California State University, Chico with a Bachelors degree in Musical Theatre. Throughout her career she has been featured in productions of Into the Woods, Almost, Maine, Evita, Phantom of the Opera, and more and most recently closed How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. She is excited to work with the cast and crew of What Lies West.
Chloe Moore, Actress:
Chloe lives in Santa Rosa, California, and is sixteen years old. She first became involved in theater in a sixth grade play of Charlie in the Chocolate Factory as Willy Wonka, and has since been in the ensemble of Beauty and the Beast and the character Whitney in Legally Blonde during middle school. She will soon be a junior at Maria Carrillo High School, and spends her free time baking, playing with her two cats, Cougar and Foggy, reading, and writing poetry.
President of SADI Productions/ Producer-
Jennifer S. Milliman
Jennifer worked as an assistant director for 7 years in the Austin area, before moving to Los Angeles to attend the American Film Institute, where she obtained her Masters Degree. Since graduation she has worked on everything from familiar summer blockbuster feature films (Thor, John Carter of Mars,
Horrible Bosses, Savages, etc.), to independent passion projects (Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, ConMan, etc .) , prime time television shows (Parks & Recreations, CSI Miami, Major Crimes, Stalker, Sons of Anarchy, etc.), reality shows (Deadliest Warrior), as well as countless new media streaming content, commercials and music videos. All of this experience has given her invaluable knowledge, and allowed her to develop many great working relationships with other talented professionals. In addition to her constant crew work, she has spent her own time working to
develop projects for her own production company, SADI Productions. What Lies West promises to be another in a line of incredible projects developed in close collaboration with two talented classmates from AFI.
Whiskey is pretty sure there will be cheese in this venture, so he has "volunteered" to be in charge of morale. He looks forward to writing postcards to everyone from set.