My thirty-something friend and I were in a Lyft on our way to dinner. I began chatting up the driver as I often do since making random connections is a favorite pastime of mine. I have met many interesting rideshare drivers in Los Angeles – a flat-earther, a musician, a former studio executive, a local politician… Ours did not disappoint. In his late twenties, we easily engaged in conversation that touched on philosophy, feminism, science fiction and anarchy. He was a film director who proudly identified as a recalcitrant.
We were mid conversation on Plato when we arrived at our destination, a casual Italian restaurant. My friend and I were meeting a mutual guy friend. Our fourth diner dropped out last minute, so I asked our driver to join. Only momentarily thrown by the offer, he also was not ready to end the conversation, so said “sure!”
The dinner conversation flowed. Over his second slice, our driver with a boyish Cheshire cat smile announced: “My friend found love in Paradise!” He had our attention. We were intrigued – of course. He shared the story of his buddy who had stupidly cheated on his girlfriend. Unable to forgive, she broke up with him, and moved back home to Paradise, Nevada. Full of regrets, his friend quit his job in L.A. and moved to Paradise to win her back. Now, a year later, they were getting married. As a hopeful romantic, I was taken by this bittersweet love story, but as a pragmatic (cheerful) nihilist, our driver was unsure if it was actually a good thing.
Our dinner had ended, my friends had peeled off, but the driver and I continued to talk until the wee hours that ended when realized we had to get up very early that morning – me to fly home to NYC.
That night and the Paradise story morphed into this road movie. The characters are loosely based on the four diners composited with other older millennial friends of mine who, like them, were grappling with ‘adulting’ existential dread as experienced by their generation: when to give up on a dream, student loan debt, fourth wave feminism, identity, making ends meet in today's gig economy, and finding real connection.
This movie is about my fictional foursome finding the courage to be vulnerable, the power to forgive and selflessness to accept and honor all kinds of love - romantic, familial, friend and of oneself. That is Paradise. CAYTHA JENTIS
Sometimes we are brought together with people through an unexpected circumstance that ends up changing our lives forever. We all have had that experience; that person you strike up a conversation with at a bar that you wouldn’t have had if you weren’t alone, someone you sit next to on a flight who ends up becoming your life partner... or a group of people you meet in a rideshare.
POOLING TO PARADISE follows four ragtag individuals who all come together in the latter. They seem to have nothing in common on the surface, disconnected to each other with their own destinations in mind. However, through a series of unexpected events, we watch as they break free from the constraints of city life to embracing a spontaneous, eye-opening road trip together from Los Angeles to Paradise, Nevada.
What comes next is a journey none of them expected; the film dives into the joy, humor, and gravitas of living as an older millennial in a world where socioeconomic anxieties lurk in the background of our projected social media façades.
We see what happens when we let go of our expectations of ourselves and others, what we discover when we all share together despite our differences, and the beautiful things that unfold when we say “yes” to a leap of faith and a journey (with some fateful strangers) into the unknown. ROXY SHIH