Mystic filmmaker Ross Morin, a professor at Connecticut College, may be best known for his nervous psychological thrillers, but it was a 10-minute short film about a girl who feels rejected because of cultural differences that resulted in his independent production company his greatest honor to date. : a place in the list of Home Box Office offers.
HBO Films purchased Kiltered Productions’ short film “Â¡ComÃ©! (Eat!)” After a Premium Films sales representative in Paris saw it at a Midwestern film festival. Morin was the first assistant director of the bilingual film, produced by the independent company that Morin and his business partner Matt Herbertz formed several years ago.
Herbertz was the cinematographer for the film, and he and Morin secured the services of a Mexican-American director, Lizette Barrera, to bring the story to life. The screenplay was written by Pamela Rodriguez, a young woman of Puerto Rican descent.
âThis was the first time Kiltered Productions looked for a screenwriter or director,â Morin said in a telephone interview. “Kiltered Productions is committed to giving voice to those under-represented in front of and behind the camera.”
The film was shot in 2019 over a two-day period in Lakeland, Florida, before the pandemic. Planning for pre-production, Morin said, took about six months, which included casting, fundraising and identifying key crew members.
The film featured a wide range of Latinx actors and crews from across the country who brought their own personal experiences to the set and to the film.
âIt was important for us to have a team that could tell the story of a young Puerto Rican woman,â said Morin. “It was a great collaboration.”
The autobiographical story revolves around a 12-year-old Puerto Rican girl whose perspective changes when she brings a popular dessert dish, Arroz con Leche, to a Thanksgiving event at her school and no one eats it. The girl’s teacher comes to her aid, helping her to understand that being different is not necessarily bad; sometimes the differences can be special.
The film performed well as a short film at more than 20 festivals across the country that agreed to show it, sparking negotiations which led Kiltered Productions and HBO to sign a three-year contract to air the film on HBO and HBO Max. The short film began airing in July.
âIt’s a very small business,â Morin said of Kiltered Productions. âWe just did these projects out of love. It wasn’t in our dreams or our imaginations that our movie would be on HBO. We don’t do this for money. There is no money in the courts. footage. “
As the first assistant director, Morin planned and programmed every shot, managing the cast and crew and keeping everyone on schedule.
âWorking at Connecticut College gives me the opportunity to work summers on projects,â Morin said. âI start a project every summer and cut (edit) during the winter. I was doing one movie a year for a while until COVID. COVID threw it out.â
He says having a production company puts him at the crossroads of a businessman and an artist.
âYou can’t just be one or the other,â he said. “You can’t just have an idea and make a movie. You have to know how to manage your time and be meticulously organized.”