Sofia Lynch’s ‘Leaving Michiana’ to premiere online August 8

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Writer/director/producer Sofia Lynch’s “Leaving Michiana” will premiere on Youtube on August 8 at 7 PM EST.

The story of Olivia, a young woman who has always dreamed of escaping her small town as the last of the ties keeping her there dissolve before her, this next-to-no budget short film was filmed in less than a week in small-town locations across southern Michigan just before Hollywood would come knocking at Sofia’s front door.

Created as an excuse to bring attention to the often-overlooked charm and beauty of the rural Midwest, “Leaving Michiana” was written, directed, and co-produced by Sofia Lynch, with assistance in production from Ariona Kalaj, with cinematography provided by Frank Allen, sound mixing by Spencer Wooley, and set photography by Jake Mulka.

As Sofia tells it, “Leaving Michiana” was made.. with spit, and glue, and the hard work and determination of a small but mighty crew. That’s why we proudly flaunt our makeshift slate as a symbol of our production. Like this slate, our film was made under scrappy means — created out of whatever we could get our hands on for free or next-to-nothing. (When you’re your own editor, you can choose to let go of some luxuries to save some pennies 😅)

“So, is it gonna have all the bells and whistles of a USC (University of Southern California) student production? Maybe not, our resources were very limited in comparison! But even short on the cinematic novelties, “Leaving Michiana” puts forth a heartfelt coming of age story in a local and overlooked setting, and it is the result of the blood, sweat, and tears of its creators, some creative problem solving, and a whole lot of heart. (I mean… that’s an ACTOR holding the slate, egads!)

“Leaving Michiana” stars:

Clayton Conner as Guy, your neighborhood manager.  Clay is an actor is a recent graduate of Western Michigan University. Clay. Graduating with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts not only an actor, but he is also a talented musician and a passionate improv and stand-up comedian. Clay has worked on numerous films since his graduation from WMU and is getting ready to bring his art to the city of Chicago!

Luke Ragotzy as small-town villain, Clint Wilson.  A graduate of Western Michigan University with a degree in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Directing,  Luke is an Equity Actor and Resident Company Member at the Barn Theatre – School in Augusta.  Immediately following the filming of ‘Leaving Michiana,’ Luke was fortunate enough to star in a feature horror film ‘Dormant Evil’ which will be hitting theaters and streaming services in March of 2022.
Rene Melyn as Olivia’s less-than-perfect mother, Doreen.  Rene began her acting career later in life, during the Pandemic, after years of working as a Realtor and Custom Cake Artist. Rene’s role as Doreen was her second-ever role in a film, and the character touched her heart extra having lost her own Mother and her Mother-In-Law, during the past year.  Though Rene is “newer” to acting, she’s a consummate professional, and a talented performer.
Jasmine Piper as Molly MartinJasmine has been acting since she first auditioned for a role in a school play at the age of 17.  A graduate from Western Michigan University with a BFA in Theatre Performance.

Ariona “Jona” Kalaj is the co-producer of “Leaving Michiana.”   A graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a degree in accounting and business management.  In her time there,  Ariona made waves in the campus community through her student org work, and even coordinated a freaking music festival.

After college, Jona’s connections to the local music scene brought her a creative partner in one @mathewpimental and she now produces his kick ass music videos.

 About Sofia Lynch
Sofia graduated from the University of Michigan in 2019 with a degree in English and a 30-minute comedy short under her belt. During her time at the UofM, Sofia worked as a beat editor for The Michigan Daily arts section, produced/hosted a political satire show for @wolvtv, and also won a university award for leadership in the fine arts.

After graduation, Sofia moved to LA to break into the film industry where she snagged a position as a Writer’s PA for a Netflix show — earning her first official “name in the credits.” In the job search after that position, Sofia reconnected with her childhood passion for acting and has since thrown herself completely into pursuing her dream of performing.

“Leaving Michiana” is her first-ever independent short where she has total creative control, so she’s so excited — and definitely NOT nervous— to share it with the world, but most of all, she’s incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support she’s received so far. ⁠

For more on the stars and crew of “Leaving Michiana” check out

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