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This project was successfully funded on September 15, 2018

Dessert Island Independent Film

by Mat Miller


Dessert Island” was inspired by recent political and social issues in Oklahoma and Colorado.  Oklahoma teachers are currently rallying for fully funded schools and a living wage, and it’s shutting down schools across the state. Not only that, but meaningful programs including art have been completely cut from our schools due to these massive budget cuts.

Colorado is in its third year of legalizing marijuana, and made over $2 billion for the state of Colorado in its first year. With state and federal regulations at odds, the cannabis industry faces its own issues related to where income can be held. It is a huge cash operation and massive amounts of cash have been stolen from these businesses. 

So, the concept for “Dessert Island” was born. What if a recently laid-off public school art teacher decided to rob a Colorado weed dispensary to revive the art program at the school?

Dessert Island” is a comedy based around 3 main characters: John, Baba, and Aaron. John, 41, was just fired from his art teaching job due to budget cuts. His roommate Baba, 36 years old is a body building stoner and frequently visits Colorado to buy weed for himself and other body builders and clients. He returns home the day John gets fired. They go to the bar and have a conversation about John getting fired. 

In that conversation, Baba tells the story of witnessing a robbery at a Colorado dispensary.  The robber was high and could barely manage the situation. He got busted and the cops came and interviewed everyone. While he was waiting there he overheard how often these Colorado dispensaries get robbed and how they having issues with cash. This is what fuels the fire for John to come up with a plan to “go visit” his brother Aaron in Colorado and while he is there rob a dispensary.  Along the way everything that can go wrong does.

The feature-length film will be shot in Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado. The cast and crew of this film all have similar backgrounds and share an expressive, arthouse aesthetic which is why we plan on making “Dessert Island” an experimental comedy.

Traditional filmmaking elements will all be there: quality cinematography, sound, and post production. But process of filming “Dessert Island” will be as both actors and filmmakers. The full crew has experience in producing films, and “Dessert Island” will be truly a collaborative project, with everyone sharing responsibilities of both cast and crew. We will keep the crew small, not just to keep cost down, but to maintain an intimate set so that we can focus on honest acting and realistic moments. 

The collaborative approach will also extend to the construction of the “Dessert Island” set, a dream world where everything is candy coated, sugar filled, and sweet. We are partnering with OKC-based artist collective Factory Obscura to produce the set. This collective specializes in creating fully immersive, wondrous experiences, and will bring a touch of magic to the film.

The bulk of the cost will go to 3 primary things: the cast, crew, and set construction. This film will employ approximately 20-30 people in Oklahoma & Colorado.

Dessert Island Schedule:

May - June 2018: Set construction

Mid July, 2018: Principal photography

September - October 2018: Editing

November 2018: Post production

January 2019: Ready for distribution

About the cast and crew

Produced and Directed by Mat Miller an accomplished life-long visualist, Mat Miller has captured the ethos of the Oklahoma art scene since the early 2000s. Whether it’s still, motion or animation, Miller has created an artistic periscope for viewing a 21st century world that lives and dies by the bible of mass media. You’ll find him on Instagram (@matmiller) producing digital shorts or curating his audience with online art shows. His passion for film, however, has always been his first love. Miller has worked with plethora of Artists and talent throughout his career.

Actor John Souders has been active in the film community for several years. As a co-host of the OKC podcast The WAFTI Show, John spent several years hosting interviews with filmmakers and actors during the deadCenter film festival. He initially wrote screenplays for his own films and since has worked on several short films within the local film community and for the 48 Hour film competition. In 2017 he purchased his own film making equipment and editing software to produce a documentary about The WAFTI Show team’s participation in the 48 Hour Film contest which turned in to a feature length film completed in 2018 called “Documentary At The End Of The World”.

Co-Starring and producer Aaron Souders is co-host and co-producer of the Oklahoma City podcast, "We Apologize for the Inconvenience," or The WAFTI Show, for short. An urban adventurer and purveyor of social-life, Aaron has used his talents as a talk-show host and writer to interview and collaborate with local filmmakers in events such as deadCenter film Festival, OKC 48 Hour Film Project, and various events at the newly renovated Tower Theatre. Aaron has produced several short films and co-produced a documentary about his team's competition in the OKC 48 Hour Film Project. Aaron began studying film at the University of Central Oklahoma in the late 90's and continues his passion with the cinema today via independent film projects and local film clubs. 

Cinematographer and Co-Starring, Baba Ogundipe is into two things: standup comics and horror movies. As a youngster he pushed the boundaries and tested the limits of his teachers and parents.  Since graduating college, he has continued to work in different aspects of media, including independent films and television.  Currently, he is behind the camera producing media for some of the biggest names in the fitness industry.  He is currently working on his first cooking television show and comedy web series.   

Keith Hines is thrilled to be joining the Dessert Island troupe of players! Keith is a big fan of Director Mat Miller; the two previously co-wrote and created a short together called 1 Ruff Morning.  Keith’s professional acting experience includes- Broadway National Tour: Jersey Boys (Nick), off-Broadway: Cougar the Musical (Buck), Sex Tips for Straight Women From a Gay Man (Stefan). Other credits include: Jersey Boys (The Muny), Les Miz (Enjolras, WVPT), Camelot (Lancelot, Pittsburgh Public Theatre), 1776 (Thomas Jefferson, Pittsburgh Public Theatre), Urban Cowboy (Bud, WVPT), The Crucible (John Proctor, New Ohio Theatre). Master’s Degree in Music, Oklahoma City University (voice: Florence Birdwell), and acting at Jayd McCarty’s The Studio/NY.
For more, follow on insta!:@keithhinesjr 


Thomas Massenat is a student of Digital Cinema Production at Oklahoma City Community College, is romanced by the words 'f1.2, manual focus lens,' and would be pleased to live his life as if it were just an immense summer vacation + cameras. Thomas has enjoyed commercial success as First Assistant Director, First Assistant Camera, and Principle Cinematographer for Ideas Buffering; a company he co-founded. Ideas Buffering has produced a multitude of commercials for supermarket chain El Super-Mercados Morelos, as well as a number of local restaurants. His directorial debut, a music video for Tacoma, Washington based band, Skating Polly, will be released June, 2018.

Art Direction and wardrobe by Frank Christon with his extensive list of work history, from wardrobe styling to fashion-show directing. Most notably, Frank was a stylist for Flick Voyager during LA Style Week in 2012 and partnered with Allen Henson Photography for Runway Magazine in LA. He aggressively carved out his place in the OKC fashion scene by fashion directing the  Mercedes Benz Oklahoma Fashion Week in 2013 and 2014, recruiting and coordinating dozens of nation-wide designers and models, as well as stage directing the events. He has also styled for Wade Livingston and Campbell Agency during Fashion’s Night Out in Dallas and DIFFA Dramatically Different Fashion Show in Dallas. Frank's goal is to continue his career as a Creative Director and Wardrobe Stylist for films, videos and editorials. As an artist, his mission is to inspire and motivate. Frank continually strives to master his craft, use his talent to benefit others and become a legend in all areas of his work. 

The music will be created by Chad Petree, a musician who is best known as co-lead vocalist and guitarist of the American, new wave/indie/rock band Shiny Toy Guns. He also contributes music for production libraries such as Killer Tracks. His music has spanned the film industry with such as the series “The Flash” and the film “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”

Set construction from Factory Obscura is an Oklahoma City-based art collective creating immersive experiences, challenging the participant to physically explore full-sensory environments. Our first immersive installation is SHIFT at Current Studio, November 9, 2017-February 25, 2018 with an attendance of over 20,000 visitors from all over the world. It was preceded by the Midnight Dinner on November 4, 2017, an immersive and interactive performance experience.