San Luis Obispo filmmaker Randi Barros is hoping people will say “yes” to funding her next project, a short film about life in a small Arizona border town.

Randi Barros

Barros is serving as director/editor/writer on the new movie, aptly entitled Yes, and currently has a campaign on to raise $20,000. More than a quarter of the funding has already been achieved with a final deadline set for January 19, 2024.

The storyline of Yes centers around silent Mia, orphaned by fire, who lives with her aunt on a long, dusty road near the Mexican-U.S. border. When she finds an immigrant mother and daughter hiding in a tool shed in her backyard, Mia is jolted out of her own grief and must decide what to do.

 “I’ve always been attracted to stories of outsiders and immigrants,” says Barros. “Growing up in a small town, I had the strange feeling of both being an insider and very much of an outsider, and the characters that populate my screenplays reflect that.

“Our family was Jewish in a mostly Christian environment, and I learned early on the shame and secrets that come with being seen as ‘different.’”

Barros says that the story behind Yes was largely inspired by a recent Thanksgiving she spent in the desert outside of Tucson. As she celebrated with friends and family, Barros couldn’t avoid the disturbing presence of ICE helicopters buzzing overhead, searching for migrants hiding in the desert.

“I was struck by the juxtaposition of our celebration with the desperate fight for survival, happening just steps from each other,” she says.

Barros comes to Yes with a wide range of production experience. Her screenplay The Chicken Festival was a recent semi-finalist in the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship competition and is currently in development.

As an editor, Barros has credit on projects ranging from the documentary Heaven Stood Still to the comedy Trusting Chloe, nominated for best editing at the Paris Film Festival.

And the screenplay for Yes was just named as quarter-finalist in the Outstanding Screenplays Short Film Competition.

Barros says the production, though set in Arizona, has a definite Central Coast vibe. Curtis Yap, the cinematographer, was a student of Barros more than a decade ago at Allan Hancock College. Several Cal Poly students will be involved as production assistants.

The script was written using the SoCreate software developed in San Luis Obispo by Justin Couto and his team.

Donations large and small are welcomed and various incentives are listed on the project site to entice contributions.

Principal filming for Yes will take place in early 2024, with a projected completion date later in the spring.

:: David Congalton