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  • Writer's pictureGabriel Rhenals

Blog Post #16: Retrospective - Leo's Love Letter (2014)

Updated: Jun 4, 2023

To commemorate my start as a filmmaker 15 years ago, I am sharing a retrospective series of write-ups dedicated to my past short film work that includes brief commentary for each short film as well as a few "fun facts" about their creation.

15/16. Leo’s Love Letter (2014)

A young man's relationship is in serious trouble. Starring Emmanuel Franco and Stephanie Maltez. Featuring an Original Score by Ben Morris.


Short Film:

The idea for this short film was borne out of a mental image of the film's closing dramatic visual which occurred to me during my time at UCF in the mid-2000s. Years later, I decided to capitalize on that stirring vision of my mind's eye and develop a story to suitably complement it. All that required was some artful reverse engineering.

This short marks the first time I worked with two highly talented performers, Stephanie Maltez and Emmanuel Franco, who I'd enlist to work with again on my 16th and final short film, The Promotion, in 2016. And for the second glorious time, I was able to collaborate with the immensely gifted composer, Ben Morris, on the film's original score.

On this show, my production equipment saw a major upgrade with a new camera, my still-trusty Canon T5i, and an advanced tripod that allowed for the smooth downward panning shot in the final scene. With this new gear came a new post-production workflow using Adobe's Creative Cloud software suite which I grow fonder of with each passing project I use it with.


• The film’s original score, accomplished with synth piano alone, was inspired by the works of Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Scarlatti and Shostakovich.

• The surprising final shot was accomplished using $100 worth of notebook paper. The requisite paper crumpling was performed over the course of 6 days for 4 hours each day. In all, 10,000 sheets of notebook paper were individually crumpled to accomplish the shot. I did it all myself. No lie.

• I was initially planning on cheating the amount of paper balls seen through digital compositing techniques but I ended up with far more paper balls than expected and the completely practical end result worked out beautifully. By the way, unloading all of the garbage bags filled with paper balls days before the shoot was pure ecstasy!

Festivals & Awards:

• Best Opening Night at the 6th Annual Love Your Shorts Film Festival in Sanford, FL, 2016

• Best Screenplay at the July edition of "I'm Not Gonna Move to L.A." in Miami, FL, 2015

• Official Selection at the 5th Annual Key West Film Festival in Key West, FL, 2016

• Official Selection at the 15th Annual Miami short Film Festival in Miami, FL, 2016

• Official Selection at the 4th Annual GATFFEST Film Festival in Jamaica, 2016

• Official Selection at the 6th Annual Love Your Shorts Film Festival in Sanford, FL, 2016

• Official Selection at the 5th Annual Aruba International Film Festival in Aruba, 2015

• Official Selection at the July edition of "I'm Not Gonna Move to L.A." in Miami, FL, 2015

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