An LGBTQ+ story about the effect of childhood trauma on relationships, ONCE WAS takes place at the reunion of Women exes.
A first generation immigrant, Zo is passionate and hardworking. She’s a graduate of Columbia Law who’s dedicated her life to public service. Kate, Zo’s ex of one year, is an American artist. She’s impulsive, messy, brilliant, and is doing her best to manage her trauma and addiction.
With one Woman hoping to reconcile and the other looking for closure, the two exes reunite only to realize that although their timing was off — their love was not in vain.
Our film has a 100% Women led creative team, boasting an abundance of diverse perspectives: from the first generation immigrants to different racial and sexual identities.
We bring you a story about how difficult it is to love someone else wholly before learning how to move past your own trauma.
To support our film, please follow us on Instagram @OnceWasFilm. For other updates, follow us on Seed & Spark (see the link below):
LILAN BOWDEN is an Actor / Director / Comedian most notable for her role as “Bex” on Disney Channel’s Emmy nominated show Andi Mack (winner of a GLAAD and Honors Academy Award). Her credits also include Indebted, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Drunk History, Future Man, LOVE, Parks and Recreation, CONAN, and many more.
She is a trained sketch and improv performer from Upright Citizens Brigade Theater LA, currently performing in the monthly show “Asian AF” (now online). Along with her writing partner Wilder Smith, she has written material for Funny or Die, and occasionally performs live under their two-person group “Lilan and Wilder.”
Lilan has directed various commercials, Moonbug shows T-Rex Ranch and Blippi on Youtube, and her directorial debut Becoming Eddie has been featured at numerous festivals such as Bentonville Film Festival, CAAMFest Forward, Portland Film Festival and currently at Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
MICHELLE KWONG is a native New York Cinematographer now based in Los Angeles. Her passion for visual imagery stemmed from her desire to convey, capture and instill emotions that she previously couldn't do with words alone. Michelle's love for visual imagery began with her exploration of photography, which gradually grew into an interest in cinematography.
With a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in cinematography from Emerson College, Michelle has shot a wide range of content that include narrative short films, music videos, web series and commercials. Her work has garnered accolades and screened in film festivals around the country, including her college thesis film Inside Boxes, which was chosen as a finalist for the 2016 Cannes Short Film Corner.
Michelle is a proud member of the International Collective of Female Cinematographers (ICFC), Sporas, and the AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women Class of 2019. She hopes to continue growing as a director of photography and creative artist through collaboration.
VERA CHERNY was born in Primorsky Krai in the former USSR, to Lyubov, a teacher, and Vasily, an Army officer. Because of her father's profession the family moved a lot.
Vera began performing at three and a half years old, at a local dance school in the former East Germany. At 16, she came to the United States on her own, on a full-time scholarship. She continued pursuing her undergraduate studies while participating in regional theatre productions.
She graduated with an M.F.A. in Acting from the Actors Studio Drama School in NYC.
Vera has appeared on the FX series The Americans as a recurring character of Tatiana, on Counterpart (Starz) as a recurring character of Irina Markova, and on StartUp (Sony’s Crackle) as a recurring character of Vera. She currently plays the role of Oksana Volkova on Queen of the South (USA).
ANJOUM AGRAMA: Born and raised in Los Angeles, Anjoum works as a freelance editor on music videos, commercials and feature films.
Her most notable work includes the VMA nominated music video for Marshmello’s Happier, MGM’s first digital series Stargate Origins and the Richard Branson EP’d short Sides of a Horn. She recently edited the upcoming psychological thriller Monstrous starring Christina Ricci.
Anjoum received her BA in Film & TV Production with a minor in Screenwriting from USC's School of Cinematic Arts.
AUSTIN HIGHSMITH GARCES is an Actress, Published Author and Illustrator, and is now adding produced Screenwriter to list.
Austin is best known for the role of Phoebe in the Warner Brothers / Alcon Entertainment films, Dolphin Tale 1 & 2 and as Ms. Lang in season 2 of MTV: Scream The TV Series. She has produced several of the independent films that she's starred in as well, including two for Lifetime Movie Network. Apart from her on-screen work, Austin is a stand-up comic having performed at such venues as the Comedy Store, Acme Comedy Theatre, and the Tampa Improv.
Her children’s book, The Miracle Tree, about her experience as a young girl was published in April of 2019 through Doce Blant Publishing. A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Austin graduated from the University of North Carolina with a dual degree in Fine Arts and Political Science.
MAGGIE PHILLIPS is a freelance Producer based in Los Angeles. A graduate from USC's School of Cinematic Arts, she produces narrative content in all genres highlighting new and diverse perspectives, both in front of and behind the camera.
She has produced multiple independent feature films and a number of music videos for clients such as Steve Aoki, Justin Roberts, and Warner Bros Music. Her films have won several Audience Awards and have premiered at festivals including CAA Moebius, Cinequest Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Fest.
She also works freelance with companies such as Sephora, Disney and Brat TV, and is currently working with several independent filmmakers on developing a slate of upcoming projects.
EDURNE FERNANDEZ is a costume designer for stage and film. As a Mexican artist, Edurne has designed various short films such as Noche Del Infierno awarded Best Narrative Short at the San Diego Film Festival; Welcome Back now playing on HBO MAX, shot in Ecuador and nominated for the College TV Awards and winner of Best Live Action at HollyShorts Film Festival; and Perfectly Natural, winner of the Jury Prize at the Directors Guild of America's Student Film Awards and Best International College Short Film Award at Zaragoza Film Festival, Spain.
Her most recent theater works include: Kiss which played at the Walt Disney Modular Theater and Mexico Expropiado, a theatrical dance piece premiering this April in Mexico City. Edurne co-designed alongside Marcela Valiente Distroller El Muisikul, a new musical that premiered in Mexico City in April of 2019 and was nominated for Best Costume Design at the Metro Awards held in the City.
Edurne was active in dance competitions for 10 years as a choreographer, costume designer, dancer and make-up artist. She continues working with Mexican designers such as Annai Ramos as a Costume Illustrator and with Marcela Valiente as a co-designer for her company Conexión En Movimiento.
Edurne received a Master’s in Costume Design from California Institute of the Arts and an Undergraduate degree at Universidad Iberoamericana focused on textile design.
With Women Artists in front of and behind the camera,
we are focused on inclusive hiring to bring this LGBTQ+ story to life.
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For more information, please visit our Seed & Spark page below or our IG page at @OnceWasFilm.
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