Melissa Bruning is a writer-director residing in sunny Los Angeles. She recently completed her second short film, A Ghost Story, starring Derek Cecil, Ed Begley Jr., and Adrienne Wells. Currently, it has shown at the LA International Shorts Film Festival, San Diego Film Festival, California Women’s Film Festival, Santa Fe Film Festival, and Oregon Short Film Festival, among others. At the Hollywood Reel Film Festival, Ed Begley Jr. was nominated as Best Actor in a Short Film. A Girl and A Gun, Melissa’s first short, hit the festival circuit in 2009 and played at several festivals across the country. It won Most Original Short Film at the Portland’s Women’s Film Festival. Her screenplay, American Gothic, won the Best Thriller Screenplay Award at the Gotham Screen Film Festival in 2008. Spending most of her career working as a costume designer, Melissa has a strong relationship with many talented directors. Her designs can be seen in the films: Space Jam: A New Legacy, War and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Wild, Rampage, Love Ranch, Showtime’s Black Monday, Amazon FreeVee’s Bosch Legacy, and many others.
“Sometimes stories find you, stick in your head, and roll around in your thoughts until you give them life. ‘A Ghost Story’ is that for me. It was New Year’s Eve 2020, a night my family would have usually been with friends celebrating, but it was no longer safe. I was in bed reading around midnight, and I stumbled upon this story. I could visualize it as I read it, but the comments below it are what really hit me. A familiar song, a message in a letter, a strange bird, a vision from the past in the hall, all parts of the transition from life to death and after. Why don’t we talk about these stories more often? The people in the comments seemed to be searching for someone to listen. While filming ‘A Ghost Story’, my stepdad passed. It was unexpected, hard and took the breath out of me. Art imitates life, and life imitates art. After sitting in hospice with him and connecting with all nurses and therapists, it gave me a greater depth of understanding for the rest of the filming. Charlie needed Peter to talk to as much as he needed his ghost to guide him. I feel it’s important for us to know ‘we’re all connected’ as Charlie says and to embrace the unknown.”
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