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Into the Spotlight

USA 2023
produced by
Justin Tolley, Brian Warren (executive), Cakki Warren (executive) for Revive Productions, Check the Gate Productions
directed by Lisa Arnold
starring Kate Larson, Raphael Ruggero, Marisa Lynae Hampton, Justin Sterner, Iain Tucker, Karen Abercrombie, Leigh-Allyn Baker, Kevin Sizemore, Isabelle Almoyan, Anthony Evans, Alena Pitts, Charlie Warren, Brooke Tin, Victoria Jackson, Jeff Allen, Steve Parnell, Bradley Johnson, Tina Gallo, Adam Black, Candace Kirkpatrick, Olivia Pitts, Amber Sweet Sterner, Rizzi Myers, Sharayah Daves, Shanel Daves
written by Kate Larson, music by Jay Weigel

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Laura (Kate Larson) is just your ordinary teenager going through all the trials and tribulations that high school life has to offer, but one thing, she's fiercely loyal to her best friends Riley (Marisa Lynea Hampton), David (Justin Sterner) and Ben (Raphael Ruggero), the latter also being her sort-of love interest, only that the two are actually able to admit it to one another. But she's not quite totally ordinary, as her dad's (Kevin Sizemore) a drummer with popular pop singer Luna (Amber Sweet Sterner, and thus on tour most of the time, but she has inherited her fondness of music from him as well as her songwriting talents. However, she's not one who's looking for the limelight, so when the school has a talent contest, she's more than willing to write a song, but leave it to her friends to perform, with Riley on lead vocals, and can't be persuaded by her friends to join in for the life of it. Then though on the day of the contest, Riley is handed laxatives by the school's decidedly mean queen bee Violet (Isabelle Almoyan), and since Violet thus has to sit out the show (literally, on the crapper), Laura agrees to take the stage in her place, just not to let everybody down. She's reluctant at first, but ultimately stuns everybody with her amazing voice - not only in the auditorium, but someone put her singing up on the internet, and the views pretty much explode. So the next day, her dad's agent Lee (Karen Abercrombie) wants to take her under her wing - but mum's (Leigh-Allyn Baker) is dead-set against it ... until dad has an almost-fatal accident. Then Laura just runs away and lets Lee form her into a cookie cutter pop star, complete with a made up romance with fellow singer Zac (Iain Tucker) - who's a nice enough guy but really no more interested in her, romantically, than she is in him. Thing is, will she lose her real friends hunting for fame? And will anybody ever find out that her amazing voice isn't hers but created by a magic microphone she found at a curio shop?


Now I won't for a minute claim that Into the Spotlight is free of high school rom-com clichées, as it quite clearly is not. But at the same time, the film also has a lot of heart, and a certain sweetness that actually feels real. And that the film was actually written by its teenaged lead Kate Larson sure adds some palpable authenticity to the proceedings, only enhanced by a subtle and unexcited directorial effort that keeps things grounded, as does a solid cast (with special praise going to Victoria Jackson doing comic relief as the principal never quite coming to grips with the intercom). And while teen rom-coms sure aren't everybody's thing (me included), this is actually a pretty sweet one.


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review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD