" /> The Assistant - The Gotham Film & Media Institute

The Assistant

: Narrative Short
GENRE: Drama
STATUS: Completed


A Latin-American theatre assistant (a human-like robot) dreams of becoming an actress, but when her work conditions present her with an ugly reality, she must fight to escape from it.



A theatre company purchases a female Latin-American Assistant/Robot. The company's Director, however, feels entitled to have the Assistant perform anything that is asked of her. The trouble begins with the Director's sexual advances leaving the Assistant with no choice but to fight for herself. Will she succeed?


The Assistant explores the current issue of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry with a near-future sci-fi twist.

The allegations against powerful figures in the entertainment industry sparked the idea of writing a short screenplay that would open a discussion about sexual misconduct through the lens of race, gender, and immigration. The screenplay seeks to bring voice to the voiceless, to those who often feel neglected, powerless, abused, and too scared to fight for themselves.

In The Assistant, a theatre production company purchases a female Latin-American robot to perform whatever tasks are necessary. However, since the company’s director feels that he has entitlement over the purchased assistant/robot, he feels that she should perform whatever is asked of her. Here’s where the trouble begins because the assistant is very human-like in that she thinks and feels exactly like a human being. Hence, our need to sympathize with her once the abuse ensues.

The visual inspiration for the film is the work of director Mikhail Kalatozov and cinematographer Sergey Urusevsky, particularly their collaboration on The Cranes Are Flying, with their use of baroque angles and camera fluidity. Since our project is a one-location shoot in a slick theater, we will create a dynamic style to accentuate the struggles of the assistant. The visual palette will incorporate a green/blue pattern with high contrast and hard shadows. 

The near-future aspect will not rely on special effects, but instead on lighting, wardrobe, and set design, inspired by Elio Petri’s The 10th Victim where no specials effects are used. In that film, we see a world where everything looks minimalist: the sets and the architecture. Another example of near-future sci-fi without special effects is Black Mirror, Season 2, Episode 1 - “Be Right Back.”


Guil Parreiras - Writer/Director

Guil has a BFA in Film Studies from Columbia University and an MFA in Creative Writing from The City College of New York. He has also studied acting at the Terry Schreiber Studio and Weist-Baron. Some theatre directing credits include: Cowboy Mouth and 4-H Club by Sam Shepard; Art as an Excuse to Drink and Screw, Welcome Home Steve, and A Leg Up by Craig McNulty; and his own Redemption of a Dreammaker. Film directing credits include: the web series Recession Whores, and his short film Shoplifters.

Olga Merzlikina - Producer

Olga began her producer studies in Moscow with the famous producer Alex Bokov and then Bokovfactory, the Producer School.  In 2012, she moved to NYC to pursue a career as a movie producer where she studied at the New York Film Academy.  Since then, Olga has worked on various films, including Hench, Violin, Momento Mori, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. She has produced the following shorts: Jess Mazza’s The Small Town Stories, Selcen Yilmazoglu’s Hursuit and Guil Parreiras’ Shoplifters.

Cailin Yatsko - Director of Photography

Cailin is originally from Arkansas, is a New York City-based narrative and documentary cinematographer.  In 2011, she partnered with director Ani Simon-Kennedy to form Bicephaly Pictures, one of just a few female production companies in NYC - producing narrative films, music videos, web series, and commercials.  Her commercial work includes award-winning branded and editorial content for clients such as Google, Intel, Condé Nast, Colgate, The New Yorker, The Fader, Vice, and many others in her seven years working in the industry.

With director Ani Simon-Kennedy, she shot her first feature Days of Gray on location in Iceland in 2012, and they are currently in post-production on their second feature narrative The Short History of the Long Road, which was selected to participate in Emerging Storytellers at IFP Film Week and was a Tribeca Film Institute All Access grant recipient in 2017.  She also shot with director Cynthia Lowen (Bully) for the feature documentary Netizens, exposing the proliferation of cyber harassment facing women, which will premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.

Cailin is a member of CinematographersXX and the International Collective of Female Cinematographers.  Featured as a panelist at the American Society of Cinematographers "Day of Inspiration" in New York City and on No Film School's "Confessions of a Low-Budget Female Cinematographer".

Stephen Plunkett - Actor

Stephen received a Master's of Fine Arts from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.  Stephen is most notable for his performances in The Mend which premiered at the 2014 South by Southwest Film Festival and Rolling on the Floor Laughing, which was featured at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and in NBC series Rise (2018).

Plunkett is also known for his performances in New York theater, which include roles in War Horse, The Orphans' Home Cycle, Gone Missing, This Beautiful City, On the Levee, London Wall, and Dada Woof Papa Hot.

Czarina Mada - Actor

Czarina Mada is an actor, voiceover artist and producer from a small border town in the Mexican state of Sonora. Before pursuing her career in acting, Ms. Mada was a journalist and Entertainment News Host for Impacto Latin News. She was awarded 'Best New Actress' at the Hispanic Independent Theater Awards (Premios ATI) for her performance in De Amor, Locura y Muerte and was nominated the following year for 'Best Performance in an English Language Production' for her work in Italy Theaters’s Born Liars. She holds an MFA in acting from the Actors Studio Drama School and has studied under Elizabeth Kemp, Susan Aston, and Jaqueline Knapp. Ms. Mada is an ensemble member of the Barefoot Theater Company, The Actors Theater of NYC and is a Co-Founder of VOZ . She will next star in VOZ's debut production, Dolores. Other recent credits include Blue Bloods, the web series Is This Life? and an appearance in Renee Goust's music video for her debut single 'Feminazi'. In 2016 she was the official voice of JCPenny and was one of the new faces for New York Life.


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