Private Project

Dear Ike: Lost Letters to a Teen Idol

A boy’s fantastic dream of making movies with his teen idol finally becomes reality, but in the most unexpected way.
In the feature-length animated documentary “Dear Ike: Lost Letters to a Teen Idol” Los Angeles filmmaker Dion Labriola recounts his all-consuming childhood quest to contact his teen idol, Ike Eisenmann (of Walt Disney's Escape to Witch Mountain fame). The goal of his mission - to ask Ike to star in an animated science-fiction epic that he was forever developing in an overstuffed three-ring binder.

After an exhaustive string of failed attempts, a magical turn of events points Dion directly toward his goal in the most unexpected of ways…some 40 years later.

  • Dion Labriola
  • Andy Steinlen
  • Ike Eisenmann
    Key Cast
    Escape to Witch Mountain, Return from Witch Mountain, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • David Zuder
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Animation, LGBTQ
  • Runtime:
    59 minutes 28 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 10, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    30,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Rhode Island International Film Festival
    Providence, Rhode Island
    United States
    August 13, 2021
    East Coast Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Dances With Films
    Los Angeles, CA
    United States
    September 5, 2021
    West Coast Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Film Fest Tucson
    Tucson, Arizona
    United States
    October 14, 2021
    Arizona Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Desperado LGBTQ Film Festival
    Phoenix, Arizona
    United States
    October 25, 2021
    LGBTQ Fest Premiere
  • NewFilmmakers LA DocuFest
    Los Angeles, California
    United States
    November 5, 2021
    Official Selection
  • Napa Valley Film Festival
    Napa, California
    United States
    November 9, 2021
    Northern California Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Orlando Film Festival
    Orlando, Florida
    United States
    October 30, 2021
    Florida Premiere
    Best Documentary Feature
  • Filmocracy Fest
    Los Angeles, California
    United States
    December 10, 2021
    Audience Award: Documentary
Distribution Information
  • PBS SoCal|KCET
    Country: United States
    Rights: Free TV
Director Biography

Dion Labriola grew up in Akron, Ohio, and studied video at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After graduating, he spent many years as a DJ/VJ at the legendary nightclub, Berlin. While in Chicago he also produced music videos for some local artists, including Industrial pioneers, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult.

Dion then moved to Los Angeles and started working as an editor on several cable documentaries including “The Universe” and “Life After People.” He has also produced music videos for some Los Angeles musicians.

Dion now works as a freelance artist, editor, and animator.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

When I was a teenager I dreamed of one day making an animated feature-film starring Ike Eisenmann. Although it is a documentary rather than the science-fiction epic I had envisioned back then, “Dear Ike” is that film.

Because it’s such a personal story, I decided to produce this entirely independently, forgoing any outside funding. I also created all of the animation, and edited the film. My best friend from childhood composed the score. I’m proud of the film we created and only hope that the teenage-me would be as well.

“Dear Ike” is a small, simple story, yet I feel it speaks to larger issues, in particular how creativity, art, hopes and dreams can bring solace to kids who are trying to find their place in the world.