Te Llaman Las Olas (The Waves Call You)

Levittown, Puerto Rico | Film Short

Drama, Foreign Film

Ana Verde

1 Campaigns | New Jersey, United States

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This campaign raised $18,150 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

255 supporters | followers

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We've seen plenty of movies about quinceañeras: beautiful young girls and classic coming of age stories. This time I want to turn the camera to the woman hemming the dress -- a brilliant seamstress struggles to make a living as costs continue to rise in Puerto Rico.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

What is an artist to do when she can no longer afford to live in the place she's called home? That's the question explored in TE LLAMAN LAS OLAS: an intimate character study of a humble, conflicted seamstress impacted by the ongoing gentrification in Puerto Rico, written and directed by Ana Verde.

The Story


Te llaman las olas ("The Waves Call You") is a love letter to my mother's hard work.

She is a brilliant seamstress, and she has made all of my important dresses. She does this for all of the members of my family, and many friends, and friends of friends.

The event industry her work hinges on has been significantly impacted since Hurricane Maria all the way up to the current pandemic. Creatives and artisans in Puerto Rico find themselves in an extremely delicate place both economically and personally. They knows their work is worth more than they are charging for it, but their clients are not often willing to pay the price. This occurs at the same time that the cost of living in Puerto Rico is sky-rocketing due to ongoing gentrification, which makes for the film’s dilemma: what is an artist to do when they can no longer afford to live in the place they have always called home? 


Out of this, the character of Yvonne is born. Rent is due soon and she has $12 to her name. When her daughter, Isabel, gives her a call to check on the money she just sent her, she asks Yvonne if she's thought about moving to the US. The day dreaming begins. The ocean calls for her. She’d rather drown than have to leave the island she has always loved. 

This is a story about a woman yearning for resolve and release. Yvonne feels tension in her daily life but doesn’t have a way of expressing it, so she begins to day dream. The scenes shot in reality are a bit dull, dark, tense. Reality is strained, and it is hot and humid outside. She escapes to the beach, and the daydream sequences are hauntingly ethereal, with soft textures, pinks and blues. The day dreams are where she wants to be, wearing ballgowns on a beach where rent isn’t due.

I’ve seen movies about quinceañeras: a beautiful young girl, a classic coming of age story. This time, I want to turn the camera down to the woman hemming the dress. I want to make a movie about my mother. This project is my way of honoring hard working peoples' desire to live on the island they've always called home. Moving to the U.S. would be, in some ways, to accept defeat.


My highest aspiration as an artist is to create work in which the people in my family, and therefore a wider Black and Latiné community, can see themselves as the beautiful, complicated, and heroic individuals they are, while working alongside them to achieve these narratives.

Cinema has always been made in Puerto Rico. I am not doing anything particularly groundbreaking by shooting a film on the island; I stand on the shoulders of great filmmakers. However, my film is entirely composed of characters who are Puerto Rican women of different socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. I am looking forward to showing local and international audiences that Puerto Rican people come in all shades and income brackets.

The goal of this project is to give a meaningful voice to the residential, creative communities of Puerto Rico. The local Puerto Rican population has experienced substantial hardship and loss throughout the last several years due to the devastation of Hurricane Maria, COVID-19, and increasing gentrification.

According to the New York Times, 43 percent of Puerto Ricans live below the federal poverty level, while affluent investors driven by tax incentives, like YouTube influencer Logan Paul and crypto billionaire Brock Pierce, have displaced residents who can no longer afford to live there.

Te llaman las olas examines this issue through a particular point of view, in this case, through the character of Yvonne. However, there is a universality in Yvonne’s experience. She is a symbol of women like my mother, like other seamstresses and artisans in Levittown, and of the greater Puerto Rican community, culture, and way of life. We want this film to have an impact on both American audiences, as a means of awareness and education, as well as Puerto Rican and Latinx audiences, as a means of pride, empowerment, and representation.


I grew up in Puerto Rico making theater.
It is where I formed myself as a storyteller. I directed my first play when I was 16 and my first web series when I was 18. I love making work there, it is where I feel most empowered and most inspired.

I want to shoot this film on location in my hometown of Levittown, Puerto Rico because I believe that stories about Puerto Rican characters should employ the largest number of Puerto Rican artists as possible. These are the people to tell this story, so I'm going to go there and work amongst and alongside my community. With this film project, we will work with a film crew that is completely local to the island.

We are also seeking partnerships with Puerto Rican grocery stores, local churches, and more. I want this project to be a community effort.

I feel immensely lucky to have been awarded the WAVE Grant, awarded to first time BIPOC women & non-binary filmmakers. In a way – I feel it is my responsibility to bring those resources back to my hometown, and share it amongst the artists that have helped me become the artist I am today.

We have also partnered with Filmes Casa, an independent film development and production company based in Puerto Rico, focused on producing auteur Puerto Rican cinema for Iberoamerica and the Caribbean. 

For a short film that’s quite literally about the payment of local artistic professionals as a means to survive, it’s paramount that all our collaborators are compensated in a way that supports this principle. Thereby, we seek to create a positive impact not only through the outcome of the film, but also through the process of making it.

About the Project / Specs

Genre / Themes: Drama, Surrealism

Run Time (Expected): 10 min 

Production Company: Filmes Casa

With the Support of: Wavelength Productions


October 2021 – April 2022: Development

May – July 2022: Pre-Production

August 2022: Principal Photography

September – November 2022: Post-Production

December 2022 – 2023: Distribution & Festivals


Our hope is to submit this short film to festivals in the U.S., Latin America, and Europe to elevate the stories of low income Puerto Rican families in these circles. The producers of this film have premiered shorts and features in the U.S. and around the world, most recently at SXSW, LALIFF, Sarasota Film Festival, Pan African Film Festival, and more.

Following the  festival circuit, our goal is to share our film with like-minded institutions and non-profit organizations to offer community screenings for an even wider audience in early 2024, when the film will be publicly released.

All that said, if you don’t want to wait until then, pitch in at the $150 level for a private screener link of the finished film!

While we have $5,000 under our belt through the generous WAVE grant provided by Wavelength Productions, we are responsible for raising the remaining funds of our less than $20k budget. Filming an international short of this scale has required our team to think creatively, strategically, and outside-the-box when it comes to the most effective (and realistic) use of our funds to create the strongest possible short with the most impact.

With your meaningful support, we'll be able to use or donated funds towards:

  • Securing authentic locations (& insurance) in Levittown, Puerto Rico to adequately capture and set the stage for Yvonne's world 

  • Providing competitive day rates for our cast and crew, particularly in support of the film's thematic message (paying creative artists appropriately!) 

  • Renting professional-quality techncial equipment, including camera & sound

  • Creating a set of colorful dressing, props, and costumes (quinceañera dresses!) to properly illustrate the vibrancy and artistry of Yvonne's craft as a seamstress 


If you’d like to support this project, but you aren’t in a place to contribute monetarily, no worries! Here are some other ways you can help us out:

  • Follow us on Social Media @lasolas.film for updates at every step of the way.
    Share the following on your social media: “Help filmmaker @anamverde by supporting the @thewaves.lasolas on @seedandspark! Join them here: www.seedandspark.com/fund/te-llaman-las-olas”

  • Follow us on Seed&Spark! (It’s free!) Seed&Spark rewards us for building our audience. Once we hit 250 “followers,” regardless of how many people pledge, we'll start unlocking creator discounts, products, services, and festival fee waivers for this and future projects, courtesy of Seed & Spark!

  • Share this page far and wide!

Have suggestions, ideas, or other services?

Reach out + say hello!

Email Producer, Lauren Lukow ([email protected])


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

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Talent Fees

Costs $1,150

This funding would go towards paying competitive, appropriate rates for our Puerto Rican cast.

Crew Rates

Costs $6,200

This money would go towards paying our local Puerto Rican crew during principal photography.


Costs $3,350

This money would cover post-production costs including editing, color, VFX, sound mix and design.

Production Design & Art

Costs $1,000

This money would go towards our art department needs including props, costumes, and set dressing.

Production Equipment

Costs $3,300

This money would cover all equipment needed for filming including camera, sound, and lighting.


Costs $1,500

This money would go towards securing authentic locations in Puerto Rico, including any permit fees.

About This Team

ANA VERDE (Writer/Director)

Ana Verde is a Puerto Rican and Venezuelan writer and director. As a playwright, she has developed or showed work with Hubbard Hall/The Bushwick Starr, Ars Nova's ANT FEST with her project YOUR CHANGING BODY, and Playlight Theatre Company with her play RADIOBABY, OR NICE GIRLS DON'T LISTEN TO USHER. As a filmmaker, her fiction short script HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAISY was selected as Best Short Script by the International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival and, most recently, she was awarded a WAVE Grant by Wavelength Productions to produce her first short film this year in Puerto Rico, where she grew up. Her pilot DORADO was selected for the 2022 Orchard Project Episodic Lab. At the moment, she is in post-production for a web series she directed called NEXT MOVE, developing her first feature script, and writing a novel. For the past four years, Ana has worked at The Sundance Institute as the Manager of the Interdisciplinary Program where she provides support to artists working in emerging media, music, theater, and film. 



Lauren Lukow is a creative producer based in Los Angeles. Her projects have screened at festivals around the world including the Sarasota Film Festival, Pan African Film Festival, NewFilmmakers LA, and have been supported by organizations including Wavelength Productions and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. By day, she is the Manager of Producing & Artist Support for the Sundance Institute's Feature Film Program where she focuses on discovering and amplifying the work of emerging independent producers, screenwriters, and directors in fiction features. Before Sundance, Lauren worked in development at Pixar Animation Studios where she supported their in-house filmmakers in the earliest phases of their creative process including Pete Docter's SOUL and Enrico Casarosa's LUCA. Prior, she held positions at the Virginia Film Festival, Arvold Productions, and Mockingbird Pictures. Lauren has served on the jury for the Nashville International Film Festival, RiverRun Film Festival, UCLA's MFA Screenwriters Showcase, and DePaul University’s Premiere Film Festival. An alum of the University of Virginia, she continues to give back on the Board of the UVA Entertainment Club of LA.



RAÚL ABNER SAMRAH (Executive Producer)

Raúl Abner Samrah is an award-winning producer, screenwriter, educator, and entrepreneur from Ciales, Puerto Rico. He is one of the co-founders and executive producers of Filmes Casa, an independent production company focused on the development and production of national cinema. He is a member of the Association of Documentalists of Puerto Rico (AdocPR), where he serves as Coordinator for the Latin American Documentary Film Showcase. As a producer, his filmography stands out for diversity. Among his most recent productions is the short film "Mano santa", awarded Best Screenplay at the 2020 European Film Festival; the fantasy short "Eco" (2020), winner of Best VFX at the Lusca Fantastic Film Festival; and the co-production "Receta no includa", winner of the Audience Award in the Global category of the SXSW 2022 festival.


SAMARA PÉREZ SANTIAGO (Executive Producer)

Samara Pérez Santiago is a screenwriter and creative producer originally from Hatillo, Puerto Rico. Throughout her career, she has worked with various visual mediums such as narrative shorts, feature films, television and web series. Her filmography mostly includes works that are focused on the queer and afro-caribbean perspectives. She has developed and produced works such "Receta No Incluída" (SXSX Global Audience Award Winner 2022), the short documentary Chimenea de muerte (2021) winner of the Visionaje Fund granted by the Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico (MAC), and the multi award-winning LGBTQ+ short, “Mano santa” (2020).  


FILMES CASA (Production Company) 

Filmes Casa is an independent film producer based in Puerto Rico that seeks to empower diverse voices through its projects as well as grow the participation of the Latin, Caribbean, Black and Queer community in films. Its trajectory includes a roster of national and international award winning original works, co-productions and festival tours, laboratories and cinema markets. In 2022 they won the Global Audience Award in the SXSW Film Festival with their first co-production feature-film "Without Prescription".


WAVELENGTH PRODUCTIONS (Financier / Supporter)

Wavelength is an Emmy-Winning film studio committed to developing, producing and financing films that tell great f**king stories. Helmed by Variety’s "2020 Producer to Watch" Jenifer Westphal, Wavelength has produced over 60 films since its founding in 2015.

Wavelength has curated a truly impressive roster of award-winning, buzz-worthy films including Emmy-Winning documentaries FEELS GOOD MAN and ATHLETE A, WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?, SELAH AND THE SPADES, MAYBE THIS YEAR, Independent Spirit Award-Winning FAREWELL AMOR, Independent Spirit Award-nominated COLEWELL, Tribeca 2020 Best Documentary feature SOCKS ON FIRE, along with the past two winners of the Sundance Special Jury Award for Emerging Filmmaker, CUSP and FEELS GOOD MAN. The full-service commercial and branded division creates content for clients such as lululemon, Hypnotic, and American Express.

Wavelength is dedicated to cultivating diverse filmmakers in all stages of their careers, including the signature WAVE Grant initiative and regularly contributing to grants, mentorship programs, and workshops.


Current Team