Private Project


After a bad break up a woman moves into a new neighborhood in search of a fresh start. What she finds is more than a new place to live.

  • Joanne Verbos
  • Joanne Verbos
  • Will Vega
  • Joanne Verbos
  • Todd Hickey
  • Will Vega
  • Joanne Verbos
    Key Cast
    Ratched, 911 Lone Star, Fat
  • Chloe Farnworth
    Key Cast
    12 hour shift, Departure, Other Monsters
  • Gloria Gruber
    Key Cast
    The Secret Life of Marilyn, Good Side of Bad
  • Quinn Minichino Eakins
    Key Cast
    "Voice of Lena"
  • Jon Monroe
    I Am A Killer: Released, Jupiter's Legacy
  • Mike Mendez
    Tales Of Halloween, Big Ass Spider
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 46 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 29, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Black Magic 6K
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Austin After Dark Fall 2022
    Austin, TX
    United States
    November 7, 2022
Director Biography - Joanne Verbos

Joanne Verbos is a first time Writer/Director, her short film Lena is inspired by her mother’s cute and creepy childhood doll.  Joanne grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she brings her unique sense of style to all of her work, inspired by an eclectic selection of genres, from horror, to buddy comedies, to art house fare and dramatic love stories.    
Since moving to Los Angeles in the late 90’s as an aspiring actress, Joanne also appeared in the feature film Fat, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (2013) as well as Custody Road, and Immortal (Screamfest 2019). Recently, appearing on top-rated 911 Lone Star (Fox), she also performed a dynamic role on the highly-acclaimed Ryan Murphy series, Ratched (Netflix).

In addition to her work as an actor, she has two decades of talent agency & casting experience, was a producer on the feature film Rosebud Lane (2020),  and is a founding member of The Lacy Group Acting Studio.

Joanne is passionate about applying her career and life experiences to her new found love, filmmaking. ♥️

Lena has been awarded Best Picture at the Austin After Dark Fall 2022 Film Festival.

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Director Statement

As a young child, I was both haunted and fascinated by the visual of Lena, a cute yet creepy vintage doll always sitting on the top shelf of my mom’s closet. Her mischievous smile and her lack of hair always intrigued me.

By the time I was in 4th grade, I had started to watch many different types of films, particularly being drawn to horror films of the time, the late 70’s and 80’s.  I loved everything about them, the excitement that filled my body with anticipation of what and how things were going to happen, and of course, the clever way in which everyone would meet their demise.  My first and all time favorite classic horror film is Nightmare on Elm Street, playing a big part in my excitement behind LENA.

Thirty years later in the middle of a pandemic, while coloring my mom's hair, I was struck with the inspiration to make our little Lena a star. I immediately started coming up with scenarios and ideas that revolved around the resources I had available to shoot a teaser style introduction for Lena, which became this short film.

I never thought I had the desire to direct a film before, but to my surprise, the inspiration to make this film was so strong that I had to do it.  With the help of my writing partner on Lena, Will Vega, we crafted a story using the resources that were immediately accessible to us, in order to bring Lena to life.

We produced an indie horror short film to introduce Lena to the world and create female characters with agency, placed in a world inspired by the filmmakers I love.

My biggest challenge in the process of creating Lena, was making difficult decisions and living with them.  One of my favorite parts in creating Lena was figuring out what she would sound like.  I auditioned numerous voice actors, found the perfect young actress, Quinn Minichino Eakins to breathe life into the sassy and mischievous Lena.

I am proud of the work I have done on this project that is so close to my heart. I created Lena at a time when I felt audiences could use some good old fashioned fun horror.

“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”  ~Theodore Roosevelt

- Joanne Verbos