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color theories Synopsis

On a January evening in 1994 while Charlotte (13) is engaged in her favorite imaginative pastime - ultimate living room dance party - her mother, Ruth, suffers a sudden and severe stroke. The family is promptly submerged into a crisis and Charlotte's childhood is instantly interrupted. 

By the time the smoke clears, summer has begun and Charlotte's older sister Joan has been pushed into the role of caregiver. Meanwhile, Charlotte confronts the arrival of her first period without her mother to guide her. Joan teaches Charlotte the ins and outs of feminine hygiene products. But Charlotte is horrified by the idea of inserting a tampon into her vagina. She attempts to adamantly resist the changes happening in her life and body.

As the summer goes on, Charlotte visits her mothers bedside in search of hope and connection. But her mother is still healing and Charlotte must learn to seek the answers to her burning questions elsewhere. She attempts to gain insight from the priest at her church and her Grandmother. But as their answers fall short, Charlotte's perspective and beliefs are challenged and begin to evolve. This evolution of Charlottes perspective is poetically explored through the use of the visible light spectrum ROY G BIV. Each color represents a different aspect of Charlotte's changing sense of self and beliefs.

Ultimately Charlotte’s mother recovers enough to show her love and Charlotte steps into her new body and new sense of self as a teenager. The echoes of her childhood fall away completely as she overcomes her fear of inserting a tampon. The film ends with Charlotte fully embodied and transformed, and yet… life goes on, and new challenges will be met.

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Filmed in Portland Oregon. Festival Circuit 2024.

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Director's Statement

Color Theories explores grief, healing, and transformation through a poetic realization of the depths of our interconnectivity. The story focuses the narrative around how first menstruation is a rite of passage for carrying the cycles of life and the questions that arise in our hearts when facing grief/change.  Making this film allowed me to explore narrative storytelling experimentally without disregarding traditional story structure. There are two stories happening across the movie. One is the straight narrative that follows Charlotte as she grapples with her mothers stroke and her changing body. The other narrative is symbolic and follows an exploration of the color spectrum. Each color appears in the film in correlation with theories and folklore about how different colors interact with and motivate our experience of being human. The story begins with the color red reinforcing that we all came here through a woman’s body, and the film ends with violet, a color said to represent our inner vision and dreams for ourselves, one another,  and all that may come to pass in our lifetimes. The symbolic narrative helps drive the emotional arc of the character.


The film is inspired by the Rumi quote “The wound is where the light enters you” and investigates this through the lens of coming of age during a family crisis. How can we face the challenges of our lives and expand instead of contract? Color Theories doesn't rely on stereotypical coming of age story tropes, but rather explores how wisdom is born during some of our most difficult and confusing experiences. Entering puberty is such a wild time where everything we knew in life is suddenly turned upside down.  I remember feeling so much grief to let go of my childhood at the same time as a ton of excitement to become an adult. It is a confusing and emotionally complex time. But like so many things in life, we have no choice but to walk straight into and through that transformation. First menstruation is just one example of a time when women face a total transformation.There are many throughout all of our lives. So although the film centers on puberty, Color Theories considers that "coming of age" happens multiple times across our lives.


This film is a semi-autobiographical recreation of my own coming of age experience. My mother suffered a stroke and complicated brain surgery the winter before I got my first period. Entering early adulthood during a family crisis had a unique impact on the trajectory of my life and work as an artist.


“This series of events suddenly broke me open to see life in an entirely different way. It created a pathway for a new level of reverence for life to peek through and it informed a raw understanding of both impermanence and the infinite, at an age I could hardly comprehend. I wanted to make this movie because I don’t think this experience is unique. We all must reckon with the full spectrum of the human experience and the reality of our constantly changing selves and relationships no matter what our age or identity is.  Utilizing the visible color spectrum and first menstruation as a narrative device felt like an interesting vehicle for exploring this theme and story.” -DJF

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Charlotte: Jessica O'Connor 

Joan: Audree Stephens

Jo Anne: Victoria Newbill

Catholic Priest: Dave Gay

Ruth: Leslie Crandell Dawes

Nurse 1: DJ Curtis

Nurse 2: Starly Gragson

Neighborhood Man: James Luster


Writer / Director / Executive Producer: Devin Febbroriello 

Producer: Andi Hummel

Production Coordinator: Ashley Song

Script Supervisor: Chelsea Unsbee

Director of Photography: Joe Bowden

Editor: Dee Juliano Scott

Production Designer: Clif Chandler

Composer: Mel Guerison

Costume Designer: Jordan Hamilton

Gaffer: Nate Miles

Sound Design: Callie Day

Colorist: Darren Hartman

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Steady Cam Operator: Nate Miles

1st Assistant Camera: Sam Sanchez

Best Boy: Armando Navarro

Key Grip: Joseph Matos

Dolly Grip: Ariadna Bates

Digital Imaging Technician: Darren Hartman

2nd Assistant Camera: Jesse Bettis

Production Assistant: Mahad Mohamed

Sound Engineer: Callie Day

Boom Operator: Autumn Bochart

Art Director: Starly Gragson

Art Production Assistant: Emily Hanson

Lifeguard: Matt LeDoux

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Corinne Sharlet, Dawn Jones Redstone, Video Is The Future, M. Sargis, Tim Williams, Eva Spirada, Alexander Morris, Connie Gamble, Jess Rufo, Caroline Chaparro, Kaitlin Oster, Adam Cornelius, Lex Helgerson, Sarah Perez, Cambria Matlow, Paula Bernstein, Sean Kp, Darcy Miller, Ryan Douglass, Troy Micheau, Lara Gallagher, Clawfoot Slumber, Timothy Neighbors, Jenna Conrad, Elisa Barrios, Liz Moughon, Sika Stanton, Alexis Rittenhouse, Will Walle, Sarah And Daniel, Peggy Guhn, Douglas Detrick, Andrew D Jones, Sara, Sage Fisher, Wil Kristin, Annette Hartman, Karina Ripper, Sam Sanchez, Alex Fox, Karlee Boon, Sarah Turner, Monica Dailey, Nik Hassinger, Emma Josephson, Natalie John, Denyse Forbes, Skyler Verity, Chelsea Unsbee, Beck Underwood, Annie Perkins, Luke Holtslag Simmons, Melina Coumas, Chris Serra, Tony Kieraldo, Michael Kang, Audree Stephens, Richard Morell, Kanon Havons, Eva Moss, Kat Mills Martin, Pamela Ju, Ricky King, Barra Brown, Jocelyn And Alec Steury, Aimee Lynn Barneburg, Ayal Alves, Andrea Kleine, Jeff Rowles, Hugo Paris, Caitlin Callahan, Gavin Brown, Alicia J. Rose, Carrie, Tammy Dean, David m worthington, Lizzie Mayes, Melissa, Amy Martino, Alexis Rittenhouse, Chelsea Smith, Irene Mynatt, Laura Veirs, Shannon Wolf, Scott Mahood, Colleen O'Neal, Tara Johnson-Medinger, Gordon Grdina, Sarah And Daniel, Kai Tillman, Jared Febbroriello, Eduardo, Beacon Sound, Noah Bernstein, Sophia Emigh, Jennifer Trail, Steven Jackley, Seb & Michelle, Julie Jon & Singer, Julie Nhem, Courtney Febbroriello, Jen Elkington, James Westby, Brook Martinez, Yaya Erin Rivera Merriman, Michael Roberson, Sanford Richard, Matthew Henderson, Vincent Pham, Rachel Bracker, Ryan Miller, Haley Thompson, Caspar & Dehlia, Leah Brown, T J Thompson, Roberta Cumbianchera, Aaron O'Neal, Lorin Benedict, Mat, TV cALvAREALisM, Jessica Daugherty, Bri Castellini, Marc Ripper, Lindsay Trapnell, Luke Zwanziger, Chad Sogas, Kamryn Fall, Ernest Anemone, Gee Stewart, Eli, Greyson Murray, Edward Coffey, Chloe Alexandra, Rea Diaz, Kavi Luis, Michael Gamble, John Febbroriello, Mary Jane and Jim Rokos.

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