Los Angeles, California | Film Short

Drama, LGBTQ

Janine Anne Uyanga

1 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $17,010 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

136 supporters | followers

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Gender-affirming treatment can be life-saving and provide a sense of gender euphoria. "Chestbound" aims to capture these cherished moments and preserve the precious memories of many trans-masculine people.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

We’re at a time where states are increasingly making it illegal to get gender-affirming care. Our team, which consists of BIPOC artists, believes in amplifying trans stories in the narrative film space as a way to enforce the existence of trans folks.

The Story


Chestbound opens after Ray wakes up post top surgery in the loving embrace of their partner, Zen, and their well-meaning dad, Ellis.

We get to follow Ray as they heal into the body they were always meant to have in the comfort and safety of their chosen family. When they hear of their father's stroke, they are faced with the decision to see their mother for the first time since cutting her out of their life three years prior. Thrusted back into the orbit of their biological family, they struggle to accept their new reality.

While coming of age films are quite popular, there seems to be a lack of stories about the 20 somethings’ experience, specifically queer and trans 20 somethings. This film is for that distinct demographic and focuses on the intricacies of change, queer relationships, gender euphoria and family. 

Chestbound's tone is intimate in its approach to capture genuine, tender moments of gender-affirming care and honest when exploring the nuances of familial relationships.

With 83 anti-trans bills passed and 366 active, to be Black, queer and trans is the most dangerous thing to be in America right now. Having a film like Chestbound made would allow society the chance to acknowledge the queer and trans community and I yearn to share the world my friends, chosen family and I live in. 


GIRLHOOD (2014) Dir. Céline Sciamma

RAY: 25, Black Trans-masculine, they/them, independent yet stubborn. Recently reconnected with their father, but still denies their mother access to their life, including this surgery.

Fences (2016) Dir. Denzel Washington

ELLIS: early 60s, Black, he/him, Ray's father, warm and comforting presence, only wants the best for Ray.

Pariah (2011) Dir. Dee Rees

TABITHA: late 50s, Black, she/her, Ray's estranged mother, recovering gambling addict, trying her best.

Sex Education S2 Ep7 (2020) Dir. Ben Taylor

ZEN: 25, Black non-binary femme, she/they, Ray's partner, emotionally supportive, kind and a gentle healer.

Palm Springs (2020) Dir. Max Barbakow

SHANNON: 40s-50s, White, she/her, Manager of Linbrook Bowl, Ray’s old boss, veteran bowler, energetic, witty and sociable. 


As a filmmaker, my work is a reflection of my innermost thoughts, emotions, and experiences that have shaped me. I wrote Chestbound inspired by the community that surrounds me, my own familial quandaries and the distinction I noticed between my found family and biological, which is something many queer and trans people are familiar with.

Being someone who’s been on a year-long journey of trying to receive top surgery, this film means a lot to me. Making my decision during a brief moment of estrangement with a parent, I pondered on what would happen if I received this life changing procedure without them knowing. Thus, this story was born.

The title, Chestbound, derives from the term “homeward-bound” meaning going home. Our protagonist, Ray, is coming home to themself physically and soon is going back into their hometown. I wrote this story to share a truly unique experience, but more importantly, I wrote it to show how beautiful and revolutionary communal healing can be. I have been with these characters since 2020 when I began writing this as a feature. Though as I developed this into a proof of concept, I began pouring even more of myself into Ray.

American Honey (2016) Dir. Andrea Arnold, A Ghost Story (2017) Dir. David Lowery, Mogul Mowgli (2020) Dir. Bassam Tariq, Number One Candidate (2023) Dir. Tom Emmerson, Pariah (2011) Dir. Dee Rees


Seed & Spark requires that we raise at least 80% of our goal for the project to be funded. We must reach this goal in 45 days or we won't receive any funds at all.

Your contributions will be critical in helping this project reach its full potential and take great care of our team. We are devoted to balancing our resourcefulness and prioritizing the fair compensation, ethical work hours, rest, and overall well-being of our cast and crew.

The $20,000 you are helping us raise will go towards:

-Hiring local crew


-Securing locations & equipment rentals

-Kodak Film Stock & Processing/Scanning Fees

-Authentic production design


Our $20,000 goal is the bare minimum needed to get the film made at a production quality everyone involved can be proud of. 

  • If we raise $25,000, we'll be able to have contingency funds in place should anything go wrong, as well as cover our post-production costs. 
  • If we raise $30,000, we'll be able to cover our festival, distribution and promotional costs for completing and getting the film into the world and in front of a wider audience.
  • If we raise $40,000, we'll be able to pay our director and producers (who are working tirelessly to get this production standing on its own). And we'll be able to offer our team more respectable day rates.


DEVELOPMENT: April 2020-August 2023

Janine first began writing this story as a feature in the early days of the pandemic. From 2020-2022, they were in their research phase and turned to four lovely souls for interviews discussing their personal relationships with their chests and everything leading up to their top surgery.

In May of 2023, the first draft of the feature was completed. From June to August, with the aid and guidance of Janine’s mentor, Aurora Guerrero, they have developed the script into a proof of concept short that remains emotionally satisfying and powerful as the feature.

PRE-PRODUCTION: August-November 2023

We’ve assembled a wonderful crew of BIPOC artists who are passionate about telling trans stories. Now, we’ve launched our crowdfunding campaign, dove into casting with a mix of new talent and veteran actors, and charging right on ahead with scouting locations.

When principal cast and locations are secured by the end of October, we will hire the rest of our crew and procure equipment and resources up until our shoot in early December 2023. In the couple of weeks leading up to the shoot, Janine plans to hold intensive rehearsals with the cast to nail naturalistic performances, familial dynamics, and the heavy moments within our film.

PRODUCTION: Early December 2023

We will shoot on location in Los Angeles, CA and Anaheim, CA for 3 days.

POST-PRODUCTION: December-January 2024

Our post-production team is building day-by-day. Janine will be editing and getting constant feedback from the producing team, their mentor and peers. We have officially teamed up with Sean and Deana Kiner of Kiner Music who will be crafting our beautiful score. We also included in our budget to include a colorist and a sound designer who can enhance the world we are building. And by end of January, we’ll be ready to submit to early Spring deadlines.

DISTRIBUTION: February-April 2024

We’ll submit to festivals, hopeful for a world premiere at Tribeca or Raindance. We plan to spread the festival net wide with regional, short film-focused, Black-focused, and LGBTQ-centered film festivals nationally and internationally.

Thank you for being part of this campaign and joining us in the making of this film!


Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Locations & Production Design

Costs $4,800

Allow us to secure the perfect locations along with props that feel authentic to the story we are trying to tell.

Equipment Rentals & Film Processing/Scanning

Costs $5,000

Help us rent our film camera, purchase film stock, and pay for processing and scanning fees.


Costs $2,000

We are dedicated to discovering fresh faces along with working with veteran actors.

Production Crew

Costs $5,000

Our crew is a critical component in getting this film made.


Costs $3,200

Cover our production supplies, insurance fees, etc.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team


(They/Them), Writer & Director

Janine Anne Uyanga is second generation Nigerian-Filipino American writer and director from Southern California. They are a passionate filmmaker determined to not only capture the world as it is, but to revolutionize what the world could be. Their short film, Justice Delayed (2019), received "Best Short Film" from Denton Black Film Festival and CSU Media Arts Festival. In 2021, Janine created and directed a Black History Month mini-series, Picture Day, for client L.O.L. Surprise. The company’s first ever narrative series engaging with young Black girls tackling mom and daughter hair conversations garnered nearly 500K views on Youtube. Janine’s exemplary eye for detail, collaborative spirit and fearless voice extends throughout every project they lead. Their main concern as a filmmaker is fostering an inclusive environment and space in this industry for those on the margins to take centerstage, telling rich stories that deserve to be heard.


(He/Him), Producer

Jonathan De Guzman II is a gay, Filipino American director and writer from San Diego, based in Los Angeles. His directorial projects have screened at many AANHPI-focused festivals including Asian American International Film Festival, DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival, and San Diego Filipino Film Festival. He was awarded Best Picture and Best Screenplay of 2021 from the University of California, Irvine. Besides his own directorial work, he is passionate about producing narrative projects that come from marginalized communities.


(They/She), Cinematographer

Gabriella Salinardo is a Los Angeles based Cinematographer and Photographer by way of New Jersey. They aim to tell underrepresented stories through her camera work by creating images that encapsulate nuanced emotional moments of queer and BIPOC experiences. Gabriella's creative style draws heavily on her involvement in the indie music scene growing up, adding a personable warmth using analog formats and vintage lenses.


(She/Her), Production Designer

Areli Arellano is a multidisciplinary Latina artist based in Los Angeles. She creates work based on her own experiences in the world, and aims to create safe spaces for marginalized communities. Over the years, Areli has worked as a production designer for high profile clients such as Spotify and Google. She's also worked on award winning short films such as Soñadora and Calabaza. Her production design is rooted in reality, creating worlds that feel like home, placing an emphasis on accurately portraying the lives of BIPOC. She's excited to join the Chestbound team, as the story resonates with her personally. Growing up in a religious household, her queerness was often pushed to the side and invalidated. Now, as an emerging artist who is proud of her queer identity, she is excited to have the chance to be a part of this sweet story. 


(She/They & He/Him), Composers

Sean and Deana Kiner are LA-based artists who compose music for AMC's Dark Winds (2022-Present), Disney+'s Ahsoka (2023-Present) and The Bad Batch (2021-2023), HBO Max's Peacemaker (2022), as well as Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2020), Tales of the Jedi (2022), and Star Wars: Rebels (2016-2018). They have also composed the scores for HBO Max's Titans (2018-2023) and Doom Patrol (2019-2023). For Netflix, they have composed scores for Narcos: Mexico (2018-2023), Trese (2021), and Making a Murderer (2015-2018). They also wrote music for ABC's Single Parents (2018-2019), Showtime's City on a Hill (2021-2023), and the film Samaritan (2022). They frequently work with Gustavo Santaolalla, Clint Mansell, Jed Kurzel, and their father, Kevin Kiner. Bringing visibility to this kind of story is something they really believe in. It resonates on such an emotional level for them and they can’t wait to help create it!


(He/Him), Casting Director

Trained in the Contemporary and Classical Theatre, Estevan Hernandez has appeared in several productions across the United States from The Buddy Holly Story at the iconic Tuacahn Center for the Arts, to Spamilton: An American Parody which toured North America, to Burn the Floor where he was the lead singer on Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Breakaway. He has received On-Camera and Theatre training from renowned teachers like Andrew Borba, Brian McManamon, Heidi Marshall, with classes also taken at Playhouse West. He completed his undergraduate education at UC Irvine where he was selected for the "Honors in Acting" program, allowing him to join graduate actors in their training. With a passion for actors and the craft of acting, he hopes to not only continue his performance career but to also cultivate the careers of others through casting. He is excited to continue his new found passion for casting through his work on Chestbound!

Current Team