We were so lucky to have had Mary Rachel as our producer and assistant director for Chocolate Cake.
She created Kalliste Zoe Productions after graduating from USC in 2013 with a major in Acting and double minor in Business and Film Production. An incredible accomplishment for a young women in the industry and well deserved based on the work ethic Mary Rachel possesses. It's fun for everyone to be on set capturing the magic, but the tedious scheduling and putting out the fires along the way takes a special type of person.
Brittney met her in 2015 when they starred in a musical together and created the Goodnight music video, which Josh Ssettuba wrote and Manny Jacinto starred in. Who knew at the time the incredible team they were building.
From being the money person to the time keeper on set can be a difficult job, and MayRay went above and beyond.
Her first day on set, as she got everyones attention in order to introduce herself and share some house rules, she set the tone of ensuring everyone was watching out for each other and reiterating that we were a set family for the day. Everyone wants to feel like they are apart of something important and that's what MayRay did for us.
She was a huge help artistically by location scouting and shot listing, helping the vision come to life and allowing Brittney to go into actor mode when it was time to get on screen.
Mary Rachel was the cherry on the cake.
Manny was one of the sweetest parts of Chocolate Cake!
He was born in the Philippines and grew up in Richmond, BC. He is a long time friend of Josh, our writer, as they went to high school together.
Brittney met Manny the day of her Goodnight music video shoot back in November 2015. A year later they shot Chocolate Cake around the same time in 2016, while Manny was on a break from his role on NBC's The Good Place where he plays a very different character Jianyu Li, AKA
He's an incredibly versatile actor within comedy and drama, which is not just because he's talented but more so because of his discipline and work ethnic.
One of his favourite moments shooting Chocolate Cake was skating at the West Edmonton Mall skating rink, which was Brittney's least favourite!
"He brought a swagger" - Josh Ssettuba
Josh originally had Chocolate Cakes idea set as a spy film, think Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Very different than how it unfolded. He pitched Brittney the idea of how a relationship coincides with the layers of a chocolate cake.
He was there every step of the way: from pitching the film idea to Storyhive, to casting, to being on set everyday, to being a fresh eye in the edited room after Brittney and Ferg had a cut made.
He also knew Manny Jacinto as they are close friends and went to high school together. He approached Manny for the role of Tim.
Josh helped Brittney and Mary Rachel co-direct in many ways and we are so thankful.
We can't thank Josh enough for his dedication to our little film and being the reason Chocolate Cake was made!
We're incredibly lucky to have had Ferg capture our vision for Chocolate Cake. It's such a breath of fresh air when you work with someone who puts all of themselves into a project. I knew Chocolate Cake was in good hands.
Ferg helped with shot lists and location scouting in Edmonton, AB. His family is from Cornwall, ON so it was his first time in Edmonton!
Our two characters are sitting at a cafe on a date for the majority of the film, and Ferg found a fresh way to capture the conversation each time it would flashback to them. This made you feel as a audience member that you were seeing a new side to the environment we were in and kept the film engaging.
As well as the flash forward into the couples relationship, Ferg had several filters he used for his camera in order to create a different feeling and time. One of the filters were called 'Chocolate.' How fitting.
Ferg even barred the freezing cold pool we used for the underwater shots! He had to hold his breath the longest, going under with the camera, signalling action and capturing the magic!
Not only was Ferg our Director of Photography, he then began the editing process, had Brittney and Manny come in for ADR and did color correcting. Incredibly talented!
Thank you Ferg for all of your hard work!
Big congrats to the 2 top films of the 30 Female Directors who received $10k! Such a wonderful alumni to be apart of!
Thank you to everyone who voted for Chocolate Cake and supporting women in film.
Filmmaking is so incredibly educational in our culture and it is so important to show both the feminine and masculine perspective! Supporting you strong ladies making a difference out there and not giving up the incredible power you have!
Go watch all the films here!
We are the first to admit how difficult it can be as filmmakers to actually get a film out there for people to see. It was so essential to have Jenna from Creatus Solutions on our team to properly market and put our baby out for the world to see.
We were so focused on making a fun film, and as it is said it is hard to see the picture when you're in the frame, so we are incredibly thankful Jenna put her all in to make this a success.
What I have learned from the making of this film, is if you are willing to give 100%, your team will be more willing to give 100%. Not saying that you shouldn't delegate, however if I were only expecting to give 50% of my energy and time, I know that would not be leading by example for my team to be asked to give their all.
My goal now it to attract more budget so my core team can stick together and work together and take care of one another.
See what our team had to say! Manny's reaction is priceless
Kurt Ostlund is an actor from Vancouver, who met Brittney through a friend. He stars on the TV show Mr. Young which airs on Netflix, and he's had brief parts on Supernatural, Timeless and other tv/film projects.
When Brittney decided to pitch an idea to Storyhive for the Female Director short film grant, Josh Ssettuba pitched her the idea for Chocolate Cake, which was originally a spy film idea.
She met Josh in an acting class she was auditing in Vancouver, BC, and offered Josh a guitar lesson to help him with his scene.
Manny Jacinto was finished up with season one of the NBC show The Good Place and jumped on board to help his friend Josh, whom he went to high school with in Vancouver, BC.
Brittney wanted to add another strong female presence to the team and that is where Mary Rachel Gardner came along to help produce and assistant direct. They met performing in a musical together.
Ferg Suave-Roagn met up with Brittney for the first time at a restaurant for drinks to chat about the project, as Fergs roommate got them in touch. They were so energized by the conversation two hours after they finished their drink, and honestly the waiter wasn't around much, they accidentally dine and dashed. They swear it was an accident. What do you think?
As for a date, what do you think is best? Indoor or outdoor? See what Choc Cake had to say!
We asked our team if they would eat a piece of cake if a stranger presented it to them on the street... some are more trusting than others!
What would you do? Comment below.
When we received the grant from Storyhive, they teamed everyone up with a mentor! Since day one, we have been in communication with Mike every week. He's always the first to get back to us and responds with a compliment sandwich which has encouraged our artistic side, while learning the sometimes harsh business side.
We are incredibly grateful and goes to show how important mentors can be in your life.
MIKE FLY BIO
Mike Fly is an award winning digital producer whose web series credits include: COMEDY BAR (Bite TV), SEXY NERD GIRL, VERSUS VALERIE (IPF), THE CASTING ROOM, SPACE JANITORS (Geek & Sundry), BUT, I’M CHRIS JERICHO (Showcase Action), BODY BUDS (CBC Punchline), SmokeBomb’s V MORGAN IS DEAD, and directing shorts for The Second City Network.
Mike’s TV credits include GAMING SHOW IN MY PARENT’S GARAGE (Disney XD), THE SECOND CITY PROJECT (Global), STREET CENTS, I, MARTIN SHORT GOES HOME, & BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW (CBC). Mike specializes in working on projects that buck traditional industry strategies and budgets, and he teaches those techniques through Raindance Canada and as a mentor with the National Screen Institute.
Chocolate Cake will be launching at noon on Feb 6th!
So excited to share our story, as we filmed 8 dates at Cha Island Cafe & Lounge!
Since the community can vote daily for the Best Female Directed project with Storyhive Feb 6-12, we wanted to get the community involved in a big way.
The two characters of Chocolate Cake go on a first date, so we interviewed many single Edmontonians and matched up 8 couples and we captured their date!
Those video's will be launched throughout the Feb 6-12 voting period.
Thank you to CTV Edmonton for coming out and interviewing out Director Brittney Grabill.
Thank you to our marketing expert Jenna Willert from Creatus Solutions created the concept of the event and helped make it happen! She tied in what our film is all about and the Edmonton community!
Thank you to Cha Island for being the perfect first date location! Filling out bellies with waffles and providing the best hot chocolate I've had in a very long time. You should see the size of the mugs! I also love how you can come from a snowy outside Edmonton and into a beautiful island filled with palm trees and surf boards. Cha really is the best hang out, I just wish we had time to break out the karaoke!
Go check out Cha Island at 10332 81 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 1X2
Thank you to our dates who were willing to put themselves out there and take a chance of love! Christian, Anastasia, Nick, Allie, Elise, Lauren, Brayden, Kevin, Johnny, Denise, Quintin, Hailey, Krista, William, Dan and Stephanie!
Thank you to Amy for making the most delicious tallest chocolate cake we've ever seen! And to her assistant Lindsay for making the event fun so smooth!
Thank you for Marcella for feeding the participants and the crew at Cha Island! Thank you JJ for owning Cha and letting us take it over, you are so supportive of the Edmonton Arts, we are so thankful for that!
Thank you my wondering video crew, Brendan and Natasha! What a pleasure working with you.
Thank you Kiera and Hailey for working the front and making everyone feel welcome!
Cant wait to share all the videos and the film Chocolate Cake in February!
Go team CAKE!!
As embarrassing as this is for Brittney, let's show it anyway!