Let It Stay Here

One evening in Los Angeles, a mysterious psychologist (THE WOMAN) and a guarded cop (THE MAN) lock eyes in a Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meeting.

Afterward, they share a charged conversation, in which they discuss their recoveries and their interest in each other, then spend a heady and unexpectedly intimate evening together back at the Man’s apartment.

When the Man worries that he’s compromised the Woman’s sobriety, she reveals that she’s not actually in the program. Feeling betrayed, he grows angry and pulls away, and the Woman passionately defends their right to connect with other people however they can, reeling him back in.

The Woman comes home at the end of the night to a radically different life from the one she presented to the Man. In a private moment, she reveals that she stole something important from him — the latest in a string of objects she’s taken from men — casting a very different light on the evening.

A week later, the Woman attends another Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meeting — either one step closer to acknowledging that she belongs in the program, or pulled even deeper into the dangerous game she’s playing.

  • Gabriel Mizrahi
  • Gabriel Mizrahi
  • Brenna Malloy
    Rocket (2016 Student Academy Award-winning short), On Call (Amazon Prime), 9-1-1 (Fox), Chicago P.D. (NBC)
  • Francesca DeLutis
    The Ritz, Murder Ballad, Gum
  • Dan De Lorenzo
    Mani, Stage Fright, Bothered
  • Sara Canning
    Key Cast
    A Series of Unfortunate Events, War for the Planet of the Apes, The Vampire Diaries
  • Will Brittain
    Key Cast
    A Teacher (2013 Sundance premiere), Let Him Go
  • Griffin Matthews
    Key Cast
    Dear White People, The Flight Attendant, Your Place Or Mine
  • Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper
    Key Cast
    "Weathered Guy"
    Ghosts, The Connors, Casual
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Romance, Drama, Thriller
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 5 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 29, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    25,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Gabriel Mizrahi

Gabriel Mizrahi is a Mexican Middle Eastern Jewish writer-director whose work explores themes of intimacy, identity and redemption.

For the last 10 years, he's been writing love stories that explore complex, nontraditional relationships. His screenplay for BESIDE OURSELVES, a romantic drama, was a Top 10 finalist in the 2018 Academy Nicholl Fellowships. His script for GIVE OR TAKE, a romantic comedy, was a Top 50 semifinalist in the 2016 Academy Nicholl Fellowships. Both are now in development at Resonate Entertainment.

Before writing features, Gabriel created ACCELERATOR, a TV drama about a controversial startup incubator inspired by his previous career as a management consultant. The pilot led to a Google-Black List Computer Science Fellowship, which supported his work developing stories about underrepresented minorities in the tech world.

In addition to filmmaking, Gabriel produces and co-hosts The Jordan Harbinger Show, a psychology and education podcast, voted Apple’s Best of 2018 with over 15 million monthly downloads.

Gabriel recently directed his first short film, LET IT STAY HERE, a romantic neo-noir about intimacy, addiction and the stories we tell in the process of becoming close, which he’s thrilled to share with audiences this year.

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Director Statement

I’ve always been fascinated by the politics of romantic relationships. With LET IT STAY HERE, I wanted to explore the unspoken rules of connection, the stories we tell in the process of becoming close, and the ways in which we hide in order to be seen.

I’ve lived these questions my whole life. I grew up in a Mexican Syrian Iraqi Jewish household with two artistic parents who spoke different languages, literally and figuratively. My mom, an enigmatic tabloid reporter, took care of my sister and me when they got divorced, but created an environment where truth was flexible and stories were essential. The love in our family was real, but the intimacy was scarce. I learned to straddle different identities, beliefs and languages in order to survive, and became obsessed with all the things that go unsaid. LET IT STAY HERE is an exploration of my deepest fear: that we might not be able to truly know anyone — least of all ourselves — at all.

To bring that theme to life, I framed this story around the charged relationship between two addicts obsessed with control, and drew on timeless noir elements that echo with new meaning today. Morally ambiguous characters grappling with their freedom and integrity. Liminal spaces that reflect their secrets and competing interests. Stark lighting that moves them between the warmth of connection and the terror of isolation. And a multidimensional femme fatale who, in this modern take on the noir, I made our hero, rather than an inaccessible villain.

By anchoring this story on her, we get to experience this complicated romance through her eyes, her conflicts. The game she’s playing is a metaphor for how I’ve often experienced love: as a precarious tussle between people who desperately want to connect. The gun — a prop that we’ve seen countless times in cinema, but that functions differently in this film — reflects the cost of deception, the danger of highly controlled intimacy, and the mythic history of power between men and women. Is she taking something that adds to her agency? Or is she in thrall to her overwhelming need to connect with someone on her own terms?

I explored these contradictions with my actors, and worked closely with them to develop characters with rich interior lives. I also took a theater approach to the performances, giving them permission to fully live in meaningful moments — wrestling with a revelation, observing another person, delivering a long monologue without cutting. These moments tend to be rare in short films, where plot needs to move quickly, but they reveal powerful aspects of character that I love to capture as a director.

Because this story revolves around sex and intimacy, the intimate scene in this film was one of my top priorities. It wasn’t just a plot device or eye candy — it was an essential part of telling the story. I brought on an intimacy coordinator to create a safe environment, and worked to capture the crucial emotional shift that takes place between these characters. I wanted to find the heart within this primal exchange, to tease out the subtle dynamics of a loaded sexual encounter.

Our protagonist leads with different versions of herself throughout the night, but when she comes home, she struggles to integrate her fractured identity. Her shame and fear lead her to yet another meeting, but whether it’s to confront her addiction or to continue living through the story she’s constructed — that’s a question I’m excited to leave with the viewer.

I’ve spent the last 10 years writing love stories and hosting a podcast about psychology and romance. Along the way, I discovered my deep interest in the darker aspects of love, which inspired me to take the leap into directing. We didn’t have a ton of money to make this short, but we had a strong passion for telling a story about intimacy, addiction and identity, and for asking some big new questions in a classic genre. We produced it on a lean budget over three frantic and inspired days, and I’m honored to share this film with you and our audience.