In 2010, San Luis Obispo was named the happiest city in America. Fast forward to ten years later, we asked people in our community if this statement still stands true, or if it ever was true for them. Our documentary, SLO Unmasked, aims to paint an honest portrait of life in San Luis Obispo from the perspective of its people during a year when a global pandemic struck, BLM protests spanned the entire nation, and the homeless crisis exploded.
Today, we are left answering a larger question: What can we do on an individual and communal basis to grow stronger, bridge divides, and build a community for future generations based on a foundation of truth, love and unity. If we can start to answer this question for San Luis Obispo, “a big small town,” we believe we can begin to answer this question for our nation.
We at Purple Bloom Group are on a mission to educate and spread awareness and to be honest about the problems San Luis Obispo faces. Our intention behind the documentary is to spark conversation around difficult but necessary topics in order to pave the way to a better future and give the PEOPLE of SLO community their authentic voice.
We believe there is STRENGTH IN NUMBERS. $5 could get us coffee and have conversations with community members who are committed to CHANGE. We are looking for in kind collaborations and connections to help us finish our production with the Purple Bloom Group members by the end of 2021.
The TIME IS NOW. Co-create and share our mission. By sharing the SLO Unmasked trailer to your friends and family or donating $5 or more, you can help MAKE IT HAPPEN.
Ninja Mae and the Next Gens
About the Filmmakers:
Ninja Mae (aka MaryAnn Mae Talino) became a visual healer to help transcend the human experience through conscious storytelling. She was born in the US and raised in the friendly country of the Phillippine Islands until the age of 9. She immigrated back in America and grew up in a household with Irish, Puerto Rican, New Yorker, Mexican, Chinese and Filipino culture influence. Her multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-national background gave her a unique perspective that inspired her to use film as her voice and support social change. She answers her dharma by inspiring HOPE as a visual storyteller on health, healing and happiness.
As a black sheep of her family, Ninja Mae found strength as an orphan through her deep connections with people around the world and her community. Her film projects from Los Angeles celebrated communities and cities like Santa Fe Springs and Beverly Hills while studying Sociology and Film at UCLA. This inspired her to independently produce and co-direct SLO Unmasked with Purple Bloom Group's Next Gen program. As a light worker, her burning desire to collaborate internationally and share filmmaking resources with talented Next Gen filmmakers have manifested to break old cycles and assist the planet's paradigm shifts. She enjoys the camaraderie and loves challenging her team to use their wit and creativity responsibly in order to give the PEOPLE and the voiceless their authentic voice.
Brendan Byrne is the Director of Photography for SLO Unmasked. He is a freelance documentary and commercial filmmaker based in Venice, CA, who has specific interests in socio-environmental topics. Growing up in San Luis Obispo, CA, Brendan found a passion early for the outdoors, which inspired his studies at the University of California Santa Barbara where he studied Film & Media Studies and Geography. The intersection of the two studies inspires him to explore how a sense of place can impact the formation of identity, and how that in turn can impact the environment. As an aspiring filmmaker Brendan had limited exposure to the dominant Los Angeles film industry, it’s equipment, trends and network, but hopes to give local, up-and-coming visual storytellers the first step in bridging that gap.
Tyler Schiffman is an international award-winning photographer who has devoted his career to taking photographs and making films that will make a true impact in our world. He captures the unique moments both below and above the ocean's surface. Through his work as a freelance photographer, his photographs have been presented at the United Nations and have made the cover of The New York Times Science section. His work has also been featured in publications such as The Atlantic, Business Insider, BBC News, Nature Conservancy Magazine, Washington Post, The Los Angeles Daily News and The Guardian. Tyler graduated from the University of Southern California where he studied environmental science and filmmaking.
Grace Tucker grew up in Berkeley, CA and went on to receive a degree in Business from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Having always been a lover of cinema, art and travel, she spent an additional semester at NYU studying film, then went on to explore Paris with the goal of learning the French culture, cinema and language. Upon returning to the states, Grace worked on multiple film productions, editing projects, and is now involved in her fourth year at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival as the Festival and Industry Relations Coordinator. Throughout her time working in the festival industry, she has continued to spend time on other film and creative projects, which lead her to become a NextGen Producer on SLO Unmasked.
Djordje Jugovic originally from Los Angeles, California moved to London, England to pursue his studies and enhance his skills in Cinematography at MetFilm School. In Britain's iconic film studios, Ealing Studios, he learned and trained under many amazing and legendary teachers, such as Robin Vidgeon, Philip Sindall, Nic Morris, Nic Lawson, etc. At the Met, he was educated/proficient on how to work on a professional set and with Cinema grade camera and lighting equipment. With the help and guidance of such tutors, he graduated the Met with a BA(Hons) in Film and Digital Cinematography. Currently, he is expanding his knowledge of Filmmaking in the Visual Effects Department as a Visual Effects Coordinator.
Ethan is a self-motivated filmmaker based in England, who is passionate to tell stories that have shed light on unspoken topics such as neurodiversity. Ethan was raised in Manchester and he spends a lot of time between there and London where he studies Digital Film Production at Ravensbourne (currently in his final year). Ethan's main passions as a filmmaker are in editing, directing and script development and he has a great love for Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Drama. Ethan has a great attention to detail in his work which he uses to improve consistency and tone within his editing, research, and script-based work.
So far, his experience with Next Gen has been eye opening as he has learned more about the pre-production process in filmmaking. This position has provided him with opportunities to use his own initiative within tasks in a flexible working environment and he has been fascinated to see how much the project has developed over the last year and beyond. He has found it refreshing to have the opportunity to be a part of a project based in the US and his experience as a Research Director has opened a few doors into finding a gateway in the industry.
Behind The Scenes
Francine is from the Philippines and is a Communication Arts graduate from Saint Louis University. Shortly after her graduation, she had a chance to work at an International Film brought about by QCinema, one of the Philippine's most popular film festivals. The film was fortunate enough to be selected at several film festivals around the world and win several awards as well.
After her first shot at film, she went out to try and discover a different type of medium for storytelling, animation. She became a production assistant and shortly got promoted to asset specialist for one of the Philippine's animation studios who have produced series and movies for International clients such as Disney, Cartoon Network, Discovery Kids, and many others.
Currently, Francine is a full-time Digital Marketer and Graphic Artist while being a freelance Photographer and Filmmaker. In her latest projects, she worked as a Line Producer and Production Manager for a Government funded film festival and is an associate producer for an ongoing Filipino mainstream film.
CJ (Chester Jess Y. Odon) is from a small town called Bayambang from one of the Provinces in The Philippines, growing up in a small town, they experienced many things such as bullying, social norms, toxic filipino family culture, and many more things that may make a person doubt themselves. CJ wants to help stop these unethical behaviors by engaging themself into filmmaking, this way they think and fully hope to reach the hearts and souls of the people, especially to those places that are being developed, to make the world safer and better for people like CJ who is a part of the LGBTQ+ community and experienced these things of being an outcast or awfully different.
CJ's first film experience was in 2017, an international film brought by a known film festival in The Philippines, QCinema or Quezon City Film Festival. They also had a chance to be a Casting Director and a Locations Manager in a short film that was produced by an official government agency for culture in the Philippines. CJ is currently working for an ongoing mainstream film in The Philippines as a Language Coach and Production Assistant. Also currently studying Bachelor of Arts in Communication at Tarlac State University.