Call it kismet, serendipity, or old-fashioned good luck, sometimes projects just come together. According to the writer, director, producer, and accidental actor of the short film Crimson Cuffs, Madeline Vail never expected to garner such talent or recognition for her short film. The multi-nominated short film is set to show at the upcoming SLO Film Festival on Thursday, March 19.

The film revolves around Laurena, who goes on a blind date at the behest of her pushy mother despite her feeling that “something just doesn’t feel right.” After appearing to be stood up, Laurena finally decides to listen to her inner- voice, but unfortunately, it may be too late.

With the vision of creating a short film, Vail adapted a screenplay from a short story her daughter Patience wrote in a UCLA creative writing class. With the material in hand, she began her search for a Director of Photography. After hitting a few dead ends, Vail said she took a risk and reached out to Robby Baumgartner, who also worked on the 2019 version of Midway, a $150 million project.

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“What’s the worst that can happen,” Vail said, “doing something that scares you is the premise of my film, I called him up, and he read my script, and he liked it.”


Baumgartner tentatively agreed to work on the film if time allowed. Vail said that he was scheduled to travel to Budapest for another project. Baumgartner not only decided to do the movie but also became an executive producer of the project and brought up his crew from LA to assist.

It was not only Baumgartner and his crew who had ties to Hollywood that helped with the production. Talented people like Helaina Anderson, who worked on A Quiet Place part II and Rodolfo Martinez, who worked on F9, the latest addition to the Fast & Furious franchise, took their places on the crew.

“Everybody was doing me favors like crazy,” Vail said, “but the promise I made was that I wouldn’t put them up in a Motel 6,” Vail said the crew enjoyed the comforts of Adelaide Inn Paso Robles‎, especially the hot tub.

Vail said that locals played a considerable part in the production of the movie. Her husband, Edward Walton Wilcox, took the role of production designer, Tracey Hal worked as a wardrobe supervisor and makeup supervisor, and Michelle Brice Kraker was set, designer.

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Wellness Kitcher catered to the event, which impressed the LA crew who were not expecting an A-List craft service. They were not only ones that were surprised. Shot on location at Cypher Winery in Paso Robles, Vail said the owner SAM (Susan A. Mahler) was taken aback by the size of the operation when the group arrived on set.
“She was completely shocked when the crew showed up, though,” said Vail, “she thought it was going to be three people and a camera, and I showed up with this whole professional crew from LA.”

Apart from the SLO Film Fest, Crimson Cuffs will have its screen on opening nit of the Winter Film Awards in NYC. It will also be shown at three UK film fest and has been nominated for five awards at the Idyllwild International Film Festival. Nominations include Best Director, The Mary Austin Award for Excellence in Filmmaking (director), Best Cinematographer, Best Actress for (name) and Best Actor.

With the success of the film, Vail created her own production company called Three Virtues, named after her daughters; Patience, Temperance, and Serenity. Vail said she is already working on three films.

“I have a slate of films,” said Vail, “one is a supernatural thriller that I’m working on as a feature, another one is a family adventure, and another one is a true story based on a young boy that grew up on the Navajo Nation, and I’m working with the Navajo Film Commission on that one.”