The Love Spell

New York City, New York | Film Short


Jane Stiles

1 Campaigns | New York, United States

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The Love Spell is inspired by a sense of scarcity and flaw incited by capitalism and patriarchy. In a world which values materialism over spirituality and community we find ourselves in an epidemic of loneliness. Our story highlights the profundity of a sky worshipping ritual witnessed by a friend.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

On the heels of quarantine, filming became an outlet for all of my collaborators to reconnect and re enter our work field. It felt like embracing life that comes after death. The footage, transfused by our experience of love and levity, is a time capsule that we hope is healing to watch.

The Story

The odd friendship between the babysitter, Tucker, and child, Sebastian is an ode to yearning for connection amidst our society’s epidemic of loneliness. Slowly throughout the story Tucker and Sebastian reveal their kindred spirits to each other and heal their separateness by way of ecstatic catharsis and union, under the full moon. Their support to each other reveals that the spell holds more power than just summoning a partner, but rather it’s a battle cry to be witnessed and love whoever is in front of you.

I wrote the script pre-Corona Virus, but the pandemic made the already present themes of isolation, longing, and a turning to a higher power more relevant. As a single person, who lost their job during the crisis, my experience of quarantine was very withdrawn. My heart underwent a painful excavation, having endless time to reflect on past lovers, failed dreams, and despair towards the future. My capacity for tenderness towards myself was truly tested.

The ritual to honor Venus in the film is a real ritual, shared by the world renowned Astrologer Caroline W. Casey in her audio book Visionary Activist Astrology. During quarantine I performed the ritual SEVERAL times. Each time I completed the interestingly tricky steps I meditated on the characters in my script and their internal landscapes of aloneness. It became my escape and path to heal myself into loving, all the while laughing at myself for earnestly repeating an incantation while releasing waxy bread into the trash filled pond in Prospect Park.     

Tucker, in her 30’s, is considered old to be a babysitter, but needs the “under the table” work. Tucker’s sexuality is repressed by patriarchy and her sensitivity hinders her ability to engage in typical modes of meeting a partner, i.e. online dating. Instead she turns to the occult. Tucker is mined from my own trauma and life experiences. I’ve worked in the service industry for over a decade as a nanny, server and yoga teacher. The shutdown in March revealed how unprotected I was as a laborer, which had previously always disturbed me, but remained normalized. The lack of boundaries in my work place carried over into my romantic life. Though I hold utmost respect and admiration for people who meet on the apps, their transactional nature always left me feeling alienated. I never had energy to prove myself to a total stranger on an iphone, because I felt drained by feelings deficiency in so many other arenas of my day to day. My hope is that by birthing this permutation of myself into the film, viewers can relate to the experience of feeling small and feel seen.

Sebastian, an over stimulated, precocious 11 year old, is given many luxuries, but is overlooked by his narcissistic parent. As an only child who doesn’t fit into stereotypical gender roles, he cultivates his private pretend world, in which he, like Tucker, also connects with mysticism. He plays by acting as an ICU doctor to his stuffed animals who are Covid-19 patients. His twist as a medical professional is that he uses crystal therapy for his patients.

Quarantine granted me a pause and exit off of the capitalistic work grind. I had time to develop a relationship with the child actor, Sebastian Sinclair. Through weekly FaceTime conversations and socially distanced walks, I incorporated Sebastian’s personality into the character. He confided in me about the confusion he was experiencing attending virtual school and not being able to interact with his peers.  He detailed to me his pretend ICU hospital he designed with his little sister. In their make-believe hospital, they test their stuffed animals for Covid-19, but don’t have enough beds for all of them, making the game realistic. He unabashedly expressed a deep sadness and told me that he turned to prayer to self soothe, despite not being raised with religion. In this unprecedented time, it felt hopeful to connect with a child and bring him into a creative and nurturing process. We developed a deep friendship, which translated on screen.

I wanted to capture the strangeness of NYC, in real time, almost Doc-Narrative style with a small crew and we did! The tone is self aware, comedic, and tender. Tucker’s intention is painfully earnest and riddled with self criticism, yet her tie to Sebastian is poignant. The protagonists’ voyage into the night is a love letter to N.Y.C. post lockdown. Their mask-wearing route evokes a childlike nostalgia utilizing voice over, and framing their bodies through various locations like a dance film.  I lived through 9/11 as a young child in N.Y.C. I remember the discord in trying to understand the extent of the tragedy. Using this memory, I wanted to capture this time of crisis from a child’s vantage point, highlighting the beautiful stillness that simultaneously exists in our disaster. The film is shot on 16mm, detailing this nuanced perspective with sensitive texture. Furthermore, the alchemical process that occurs while developing film mirrors the magic that transpires between Tucker and Sebastian.

There were many added challenges to filming during Covid-19 in 90-100 degree weather in N.Y.C. Our crew followed all safety precautions and supported one another with care through this unknown terrain. Our crew was comprised of 50% people of color and of white people more than half were women. The Love Spell was produced, written, and directed by women. Our inclusive hiring made our set feel comfortable and safe, reflecting the demographic population of the city we live in and industry we work in. It is my hope our set can serve as an example for a non-competitive, nurturing work environment that we should all fight for.    

We are nearing picture lock and seeking finishing funds to complete our Sound Design and Color Grade. The short was my first foray into 16mm film and is a proof of concept for a larger project, which will continue to develop over the course of our festival run! The Love Spell will eventually be released online so that our hopeful nugget can be shared internationally<3  


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About This Team

Jane Stiles: Co-Director, Writer, Lead. Jane Stiles is an actor, filmmaker, dancer, and N.Y.C. native. Her other work on film can be seen in Rodrigo Garcia’s series Blue, Jennifer DeLia’s feature film Why Not Choose Love: A Mary Pickford Manifesto, and CBS series Bull.  She has acted and collaborated on various productions with The Harbor Stage Company such as their original stage adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s Persona.  She wrote, directed, and starred in the digital pilot One Eye Small, which premiered at SXSW 2018.  Her latest film, DOM, which she wrote, co-directed, and stars in, won Best Narrative Short at SIDEWALK FILM FESTIVAL 2019. She is currently co-writing a feature film taking place in the southwest, the film cracks open our cultural appropriation of the desert as a landscape within American filmmaking. BA Sarah Lawrence College. 

Meryl Jones Williams: Co-Director, Collaborator, (she/her/they). Meryl is a multi-hyphenate artist residing in Brooklyn. She got her start as an actor and can be seen most recently in The Sound of Silence opposite Peter Sarsgaard which premiered at Sundance this year. While working as an actor she was often uninspired by the stories and roles largely offered to women and non-binary folks and began making her own films prioritizing social justice as essential to the creative sphere. As a filmmaker, she co-produced various projects and directed her first short in the summer of 2018 called DOM which played at various festivals and won Best Narrative Short at Sidewalk Film Fest last year. She teaches 16MM filmmaking at Brooklyn-based film positive community arts organization Mononoaware and loves communing over telling stories in radical non-competitive environments.

Cory Faimon Lott: Cinematographer. Cory spent his youth cleaning his room and watching Ricky Martin music videos on VHS. Shortly after his parents’ divorce, Cory decided to swear off love altogether and focus solely on cinematography. In the proceeding years, he has applied his eye for aesthetics to numerous award-winning works featured in such festivals as Sundance, Tribeca, and Palm Springs International. Most recently, Cory lensed the Emmy nominated Netflix documentary “FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.” Under the supervision of a friendly WitchDoctor™, Cory hopes to subject his body and mind to feature filmmaking for the rest of eternity.


Rozz Therrien is an Idaho girl living in Brooklyn. After graduating from the University of Washington, Therrien completed a documentary film titled ROCK, RAGE & SELF DEFENSE, screened at the EMP POP Conference, MEOWcon and has been translated into multiple languages. Therrien has worked in development and production for Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos’ production company Milojo, where she assisted in the development of non-scripted shows like the Facebook Watch Series, HEADS & FACES, on which she was also an Associate Producer. In addition to her work at Milojo, she has been a production manager on a number of independent film projects, including the 2018 SXSW-selected ONE EYE SMALL, and a producer on commercial projects for Novartis, Ford, and Washington Post Brand Studio. Most recently she assisted in the development of a series of podcasts for Refinery29 and Common Sense Media. Additionally, she has talent produced and directed over twenty resort commercials and two social justice documentaries.

Anne-Louise Brittain is a producer from Myrtle Beach, SC who lived for five years in New York City and worked as an event producer for literary magazine Lapham’s Quarterly before moving to Paris, France as a film producer. She has worked for fashion, tech, and luxury clients such as Louis Vuitton, Azzaro, The Kooples, Hyatt, and Dassault Systèmes, largely for Paris-based production company Partizan. She also specializes in live event film production, creating videos with a quick turnaround during international conferences such as Milan Design Week and Viva Technology. An English literature graduate from Barnard College, Columbia University (2012), she is currently getting her masters in Innovation and Digital Transformation at Sciences Po in Paris (2021).

Current Team