SMOKE (2017): Liz’s marriage is in trouble. What began with so much love, promise and depth has turned into awkward silences, bitterness and cynicism. Liz also believes her husband might be having an affair. As she digs around his home-office looking for evidence, she finds a web address to a porn site and a screen-name: SMOKE. In an attempt to find out what went wrong, she creates her own screen-name and descends into the online world of Studio 69 to confront her husband’s fantasy, an exotic beauty named Smoke.
DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT: While at the University of Iowa getting my graduate degree in directing I began writing SMOKE to explore the difficult subject of pornography. My opinion about pornography has changed over the years, especially as it has pervaded the internet and is so closely associated with Human Trafficking. I have worked on a number of videos in support of True Justice International, a North Carolina based organization on the front lines in the fight against Human Trafficking, and the connection is undeniable. But what does it do to a marriage? What does it do to a wife? How do women feel when their men choose pornography over them? As a new husband and a new father, these were the questions that were of most interest to me and led to the creation of SMOKE. I have thoroughly loved bringing this story to life with two incredibly talented artists, Shein Mompremier and Cynthia Pohlson. Our hope is that the film will inspire challenging conversation about this very difficult subject. Shein was most recently seen on the CW’s BLACK LIGHTENING and I have no doubt we'll be seeing more of her. She is a powerful actress and a joy to work with.
In the age of #MeToo, the topic of pornography has a fresh relevance, and by personifying porn we are able to witness its power as it refuses to acknowledge any kind of a "story", pointing the finger outward at its naive, ill-prepared adversary. Pornography tells women that their lives are boring and inconsequential and convinces its audience that virtual life is better and more exciting and has more to offer than real interactions. It tells women they are powerless, less than, and that it has more to offer. It attempts to convince the world that it has the control, admiration, beauty, money, a glamorous life. Pornography does not advertise the drooling, oozing old people or any downside. It will convince you it "has no story". The film inspires a strong, visceral response from audiences which has led to some deep transparent conversations about the affect porn has had on marriages and families.