Richmond native unveils first feature film, ‘I Can’t Sleep’

Richmond native unveils first feature film, ‘I Can’t Sleep’
Filmmaker Gina Rose (Photos contributed)

By Kathy Chouteau

Ever since she was a little girl growing up in the Richmond View neighborhood, Gina Rose dreamed of making films. Next month, the rising African American and Chinese American filmmaker’s dream will become a reality when her first feature film, “I Can’t Sleep,” will be screened at The 46th Annual Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival set for Feb. 10-15, 2021. Aside from showing her film at the virtual festival, Rose will sit on one of its pre-recorded panels for female directors.

To check out the film’s trailer, click here.

Rose—a one-time Mira Vista student—wrote, directed and produced the 62-minute film that tells the story of a young writer who struggles to complete a science fiction story while battling supernatural forces in real life. In what she calls mico-budget filmmaking, Rose self-funded her film by saving $10,000 from her job as a mental health professional. For filming, the now-Oakland resident returned to familiar ground by shooting “I Can’t Sleep” in the city’s Rockridge neighborhood, as well as in El Sobrante, with a lineup of mostly local actors.

Rose’s interest in filmmaking was first sparked at age 13, when her father, who worked as a TV media producer/writer/director, allowed her to take a week off school to work as a production assistant for him. “That experience of being on the set with him really kind of impacted me and I started to become interested in film at that point on,” she said.

Rose further pursued her passion for filmmaking when she received a scholarship to attend a private school in Oakland, where she took some video and filmmaking classes. She eventually pursued a psychology major at Barnard College in New York City, but all the while took creative writing, film and screenwriting classes on the side.

So what’s it like for Rose to finally realize her long-held dream of becoming a filmmaker? “It’s a great feeling to finally be able to share this piece of work that I’ve been working on for so long,” said the filmmaker, who relayed that the early response to it has been really positive, recently earning accolades from several festivals.

Rose describes filmmaking as one of those things that you learn best by doing. “I feel like making this film taught me so much about filmmaking. It really taught me to express my voice as an artist and to listen to my gut and my artistic intuition,” she said.

Rose’s ultimate hope is that her film is picked up for distribution at The 46th Annual Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival; however, if that doesn’t happen, she plans to self-release it on iTunes and Amazon. To purchase tickets to the film festival, click here. To learn more about “I Can’t Sleep,” click here or visit its IMDB profile.

If the pandemic permits, Rose hopes to work on her next feature film at the end of this year. “I’m hoping to have a bigger budget now that I have something to show for myself,” she said. “I’m looking at staying local [for filming]…I love this area, I love the part of Richmond that I grew up in.”