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Indie Film NIGHT RAIN Set To Screen With Launch Of Seasons & A Muse Studios

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"Night Rain" marks the second feature from Seasons & a Muse founder, Jeanne Marie Spicuzza.

"Night Rain," the latest indie thriller from Seasons & a Muse and the award-winning producers of "The Scarapist," screens on July 29, coinciding with the launch of Seasons & a Muse Studios, the manufacturing and distribution arm of the entertainment conglomerate. "Night Rain" marks the second feature from Seasons & a Muse founder, Jeanne Marie Spicuzza.

The screening of "Night Rain" begins at 7:00 p.m. PT on July 29, followed by a Q&A with Spicuzza, Larry Harnisch, former L.A. Times writer and editor who penned the 50-year anniversary article of the Black Dahlia murder, Melanee McCutcheon and Vince Baglia, two additional experts on the true crime, and Greg Sestero, author of New York Times' bestseller, The Disaster Artist, and the auteur behind the Lionsgate motion picture, "Best F(r)iends." Also joining the discussion will be Mary Pacios, a childhood friend of Elizabeth Short, who has unique insight that she will share. Compelling new evidence will be presented for the very first time. The Q&A is hosted by the Center for the Arts in Pomona, California, which will receive a portion of the proceeds. Poet and author Matt Sedillo moderates.

"Night Rain" tells the story of a group of independent filmmakers unwittingly hired by their stalker to make a low budget period movie about Elizabeth Short, better known as the Black Dahlia. Tensions build as their lives dangerously intertwine with the events leading up to Short's tragic murder. Spicuzza, who penned the screenplay, directs with her editor, Synthian Sharp ("How I Became an Elephant").

Shot on location at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, where Short was last seen alive, the now-defunct Pacific Dining Car, Pacific Beach's Crystal Pier and other historic sites in and around Los Angeles and San Diego by cinematographer Jay Lopez, with additional photography by Henry Power, "Night Rain" stars Spicuzza, Adam Lesar, Clarissa Thibeaux, Thessa M'loe and Mattia Chicco. Other cast and crew include legendary drummer Guy Hoffman, David Lynch's sound team, John Neff and Ron Eng, as well as actors Scott Javore and J.L. Forbis, Etheria's Heidi Honeycutt, Michelle Kantor of Cinefemme, Leslie LaPage, director of the LA Femme International Film Festival, and creatives Michael A. Barnum and Jessamyn Prince.

"The title comes from my granddaughter, Amaya, whose name means 'Night Rain' in Japanese," says Spicuzza. "I was inspired by the words of Muriel Short, Beth's sister, who said that their mother 'does believe that someday the truth will come out and Bette will be exonerated.' Since we may never know... the identity of the killer, my goal [is] to offer a very authentic, dignified treatment."

In her podcast "The FBI and the Black Dahlia," Stephanie Hoover, studio and network researcher, author and host, calls "Night Rain" "one of the most innovative interpretations of the [Black Dahlia murder] case yet."

Spicuzza, herself a survivor of abuse and stalking, creates a cinematic love letter to Beth Short and the Golden Age of Hollywood, laced with her own violent experiences, and an homage to indie filmmaking.

"I want to offer support to artists and filmmakers, and empathy to victims and survivors of crime and their families," says Spicuzza.

The first official trailer for "Night Rain," finalist in the American Trailer Market and Trailer Film Festival, went live in April 2020. Film historian and critic David Luhrssen of Shepherd Express interviewed Spicuzza prior to its release. Spicuzza described meeting James Ellroy, author of the highly fictionalized account that inspired the movie by Brian DePalma, "The Black Dahlia." From the article, quoting Spicuzza, "The first words out of [Ellroy's] mouth were, 'You look like Elizabeth Short.'"

Harnisch says of Spicuzza's "Night Rain," "Every bit of the film is from [her] heart.... I'm sure Elizabeth Short would appreciate [Spicuzza's] efforts on her behalf."

"Night Rain" enjoyed an online festival debut at LA Femme International Film Festival last October and has since been the official selection and recipient of over a dozen festivals and honors, including Best Actress and Best Female Director from the New York Independent Cinema Awards.

Seasons & a Muse Studios, or SAAM, was inspired by Hollywood history, the spirit of collaboration, Art Deco and technological advances in arts and entertainment, as well as unprecedented current conditions.

"When we think that the Spanish flu ravaged the United States and the rest of the world the same year that Charlie Chaplin founded his studio, and Samuel Goldfish took the name Goldwyn, it really places our present age in a historical context," says Spicuzza. "Within one year, United Artists, the 'studio without walls,' was formed. By the 1920s, the seven major studios, established out of over one hundred film manufacturing companies that migrated from New York to Hollywood, created movie palaces to exhibit their wares. Independents, like Poverty Row on Gower Street, which later bore film noir, the only truly organic artistic movement in cinema in Hollywood, persevered and were even predilected. In the thirties, glamour was at its peak but ticket sales dropped, due to the Great Depression.

"In the 1940s, Hollywood grosses soared, its box office jumping from $20 million to $122 million over the course of the decade. In the fifties, we saw the rise of television, much like streaming and this 'Golden Age of Cable' we experienced prior to the [COVID-19] pandemic. Roger Corman recognized that a new youth market had developed, one not so obsessed with stars as with stories, like YouTube audiences today. The Civil Rights Movement was beginning, and here we are now, with the #MeToo Movement and Black and Brown Lives Matter. Hollywood traces American history. I was inspired by this sweep of cinema's evolution, and the need of arts and culture, [and] Seasons & a Muse Studios was born."

Seasons & a Muse Studios is the first fully-functioning, actual and virtual, solely woman-owned studio in Hollywood. It was developed by Spicuzza and Seasons & a Muse, Inc., with designs by Leonardo Veneziano of Sunken Realm Design Company.

"We finished principal photography [of 'Night Rain'] just after midnight on January 15, the morning that Beth [Short] took her last breath. It's fitting that 'Night Rain' will screen on her birthday, July 29," Spicuzza says.

Tickets for the "Night Rain" screening and Q&A will be available in July 2021 at seasonsandamusestudios.com.


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