The Retreat - Episode 1: The Photo

"The Retreat" is a suspenseful webseries about schemes that unfold amongst a group of black women after a damning secret is revealed during an artist retreat. The show was devised and executed by an all black-women cast and crew.

During a vulnerable moment at an all black women’s artist retreat, celebrity guest speaker, Cynthia Chadwick, opens up to a small group about a dangerous secret. The series picks up one year later, as a soon-to-be published book of memoirs threatens to expose what happened in the woods. As rumors begin to circulate through the media, it’s every woman for herself. At its core, “The Retreat” is a story about survival.

Episode 1: "The Photo" - A radio interview with “writer extraordinaire” Pamela Hairston, reveals mysterious events surrounding a prominent public figure, at a remote, all black women artist utopia.

  • Ashley Denise
    Anthology, SECRET ADMIRER, Viceroy, "...and then you die", Bittersweets
  • Ashley Denise
    Anthology, SECRET ADMIRER, Viceroy, "...and then you die", Bittersweets
  • Ricki Lynée
    Anthology, SECRET ADMIRER, "...and then you die"
  • LaQuin Alexander
  • Andrea Edgerson
    Key Cast
    "Cynthia Chadwick"
  • Ivana Noble
    Key Cast
    ABC's "The Bachelor" (as herself)
  • Ricki Lynée
    Key Cast
  • Donna R. Walton
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Television, Web / New Media
  • Genres:
    Suspense, Mystery, Drama
  • Runtime:
    12 minutes 14 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 1, 2020
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Canon EOS C300
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • BlackOak TV
    Rights: Internet
Director Biography - Ashley Denise

Ashley Denise is an award-winning writer, director, actress, producer and editor. She discovered her dream of writing for film and television while studying English at Yale University. In 2009, she moved to New York to pursue her career. Since then, her work has been featured on Filmmaker Magazine, The Huffington Post, Comcast/Xfinity, Shadow And Act, KweliTV and the National Black Public Media Consortium.

In 2019, Ashley won Best Performance in a Short Film at the Black and Latino Film Awards for Nuanse's short film, SECRET ADMIRER. She is a recipient of Big Vision, Empty Wallet's Kickstart Diversity Program and a member of the Empowerment, Enrichment & Advocacy Working Group of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective. Ashley recently released the new season of her award-winning episodic series, "Anthology" which premiered on BlackOak TV in the fall of 2021. She is currently in development on a new sci-fi short, as well as her second feature film, The Long Game. Ashley is the co-writer, executive producer and principal director of “The Retreat”.

In 2008, Ashley founded Nuanse Entertainment, a boutique film production company based in Harlem. Projects include feature-length and short films, webseries, comedy sketches and music videos that have screened at festivals and showcases across the country.

Through Nuanse Entertainment, Ashley Denise and Ricki Lynée depict multi-dimensional characters across every genre. Their work contributes to the perpetuation of new narratives about the black experience. By centering black faces in roles both on and off-screen, their focus is on championing those who are often overlooked and undervalued. Prevalent themes throughout their work include issues related to mental health, disability, racial and gender disparities, and more.

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Director Statement

"The Retreat" was devised to highlight black women in front of and behind the camera, specifically through the lens of a suspense narrative, a genre severely lacking in diversity and inclusion.

A project that exclusively features black women was something we’d been passionate about for some time, so when we were approached with the opportunity, we jumped. We sensed a palpable shift in the industry--a gnawing for projects that prioritized inclusion--and we felt a deep urgency to capitalize on the moment. Designing an atmosphere--literally, an entire set brimming with a spectrum of black women--was genuinely a dream come true. In the show, we reference Audre Lorde, and on the shoot, you’d hear people talk about how cultivating this group was a radical act. That feeling was reinforced by everyone’s unwavering focus and commitment. As a result, the project mirrors that same spirit of singularity, depth and black girl magic.

“The Retreat” was filmed over 12 days during the summer/fall of 2019. The cast and crew consisted of approximately 40 black women--many of whom volunteered their time and services throughout the shoot in exchange for the opportunity to work and create amongst fellow black women industry professionals. The majority of the resources we received during filming, ie: catering, locations (and there were many), equipment, etc., came in the form of in-kind donations from organizations, friends, and family who believed in our project, understood the challenges of being black women in the film industry, and wanted to find ways to contribute. Without their kindness and generosity, there wouldn’t be a show, and we are eternally grateful for them.

We hope you enjoy the series!

Thank you,

Ashley Denise