Playing with Fire

In their hidden corner of the Los Angeles rave scene, Kai and Saniayh not only found a diverse and welcoming community but also a dangerous new passion; fire dancing.

"Playing With Fire" is a short documentary following Kai and Saniayh, two fire dancers who discovered an electrifying passion within the concealed realm of the Los Angeles rave scene. This dynamic and welcoming community served as the backdrop for their exploration of the mesmerizing world of fire dancing. In this brief portrait, we delve into their experiences, exploring the powerful essence of their art—a profound expression of authenticity and unbridled self-discovery.

  • Ian McDonald
  • Michael Garcia
  • Saniayh Jones
    Key Cast
  • Hezekiah King
    Key Cast
  • Michael Garcia
  • Noah Krommenhoek
    Director of Photography
  • Daniel Gould
    2nd Camera
  • Eric Olvera
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes 5 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 30, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    1,500 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Loyola Marymount University
Director Biography - Ian McDonald

Ian McDonald is a documentary filmmaker from Valencia, California. He studied film production at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles where he directed 5 projects. His first documentary made at LMU, "Twisted", was produced in Copenhagen, Denmark during a study abroad trip to Europe. The film is a portrait of the painter, Marios Orozco, based in Copenhagen's historic Freetown Christiania district. "Twisted" is available for free on YouTube via the Christiania Art Gallery's website. "Playing With Fire" was produced as Ian's capstone project and both films are currently being introduced to festivals.

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Director Statement

I've been captivated by the underground performance art scene for a while due to its ability to provide a platform for individuals to express themselves in ways that may not be possible within the confines of mainstream society. The underground rave scene in Los Angeles is a furnace for boundary pushing creativity. This realm of artistic expression, often shrouded in the shadows, has consistently fascinated me due to its unique ability to challenge societal norms and push boundaries. It is also the setting of "Playing With Fire".
This short documentary is a portrait of two fire dancers, Kai and Saniayh, who defy societal norms and find solace, freedom, and self-expression through their art. It is an exploration of the universal themes of identity, inclusion, and the quest for connection. I believe that Kai and Saniayh have lived lives worth appreciating, purely because they choose to live by their own terms and express themselves authentically. I think everyone has the same flame that drives Kai and Saniayh, even if it's just a spark. If anything, I hope that those who watch walk away with a bit more of an open mind to new experiences and opportunities.