: Narrative Short
GENRE: Drama
STATUS: Post-Production


Two unlikely childhood friends navigate their increasingly fragile and uncertain world as rumours of war and deportation loom over their lives and relationship.


Robbie, an undocumented Chilean immigrant, and Dean, his childhood friend, wrestle with their place in America in the midst of increased deportation and rumours of war. As Robbie evades the authorities and Dean witnesses his friends sent off to war, they begin to doubt the America they once believed in.


Paranoia is a short film that explores America’s relationship with war, immigration, and poverty. The story can easily take place in the early 90s, the 00s, and today, when war and deportation are daily realities for many people. It is in this context, we see the film’s characters, two childhood friends, asking what it means to be American.

In ways both comical and sobering, the film unpacks this question through Dean and Robbie. Dean, a white American, has a firm belief in America and carries a naivety that plays down problems others find urgent. To Dean, the war is a distant affair and Robbie’s fear of deportation is the butt of jokes. It is only when his friend is taken away unexpectedly, does his belief in America begin to crack under the weight of reality. 
Robbie, an undocumented immigrant, acts as the foil to Dean’s optimism. Throughout the story, Robbie tries to validate his status as an American; he shows off difficult English vocabulary, reenacts famous scenes from Hollywood movies, and even joins in heckling anti-war protestors to prove his patriotism. While Robbie does love America, his fear of being deported reveals his actions as a defense mechanism. He learns that part of being American is to prove how American you are.

Paranoia will differentiate itself through deliberate and patient direction. Instead of relying on a singular dramatic event, the conflicts in Paranoia will be interlaced in everyday conversations and actions. Simple exchanges with the mailman and the hospital will become exercises in concealing one’s identity. Through a combination of on-location shooting and practical execution, this production will create a realistic world that the audience can fall into. 

Ultimately, this film asks the viewer the question its characters wrestle with throughout the film: What does it mean to be an American? Like Dean at the end of the story, the film challenges the viewer to confront their own beliefs and the areas they’ve turned a blind eye to.

Paranoia is based off the original short story by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, originally published in The New Yorker.


Sam Chung - Director/Writer/Producer

Sam Chung is a filmmaker born in Seoul and raised in Los Angeles, CA. He studied at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and began his career as a freelance photographer. He transitioned to become a producer at a digital studio, where he worked for four years creating multimedia content. Sam now works as a freelance producer so he can pursue filmmaking on a more regular basis. Sam's first short film, "Sunny", was completed in the fall of 2017. Since then, it has screened at film festivals across the country, including the 2018 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, an Oscar qualifying event. "Sunny" was Sam's debut as a director and writer. Sam lives and works in Brooklyn with his wife, Grace.

Gabriela Tamariz - Producer
Gabriela is a New York based producer who has created branded content for a diverse group of brands with agencies and production companies in New York City and Los Angeles. She’s produced short documentaries, web series, branded short films, social content, OOH, photography and more. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada to Nicaraguan parents, Gabriela speaks English, Spanish and is conversational in French. She’s a TV nerd, stand up comedy lover, short story writer and sushi enthusiast. She spent her childhood in Toronto, Long Island, NY and Daytona Beach, Florida and grew up on Seinfeld, The Simpsons and Spanish language telenovelas. Gabriela has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Florida, as well as a master's degree in mass communication from the University of Florida College of Journalism & Communications.

Ramin Shakibaei - Director of Photography
The son of Iranian and Mexican immigrants, Ramin Shakibaei grew up speaking different languages and experiencing cultures as his primary education. He worked as a camera assistant and later transitioned to lighting, working in the union as a set lighting technician and a gaffer for award winning cinematographers. Soon after, Ramin made the jump to become a full-time cinematographer and has worked with global brands and artists. His most recent project, "War Paint", directed by Katrelle Kindred, was an official selection at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Ramin currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.


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