Atlanta-based actress, singer and writer Mia Rio (Greenleaf, Vanderpump Rules, Vida) has put the social media app Snapchat to work in a very unusual way, utilizing the app’s ‘Cartoon’ photo and video filter to create a twenty-minute animated Christmas short film. Released on Christmas Eve, ‘Last Christmas on Earth: The Short Story’ illustrates the journey of Sapphire, a girl trying to find answers about her recurring apocalyptic dream in which the end of the world happens on Christmas. She takes a solo trip to Atlanta to find out what happens to her and Santa when the world ends. Written and produced by Mia in a little less than two weeks, and entirely shot on a Samsung Galaxy S10 phone in Atlanta, GA, the film has a thirteen-person local cast, an interesting storyline and fun results, especially considering the severe limitations of shooting through the app.
“The entire idea started as a silly joke. I saw a picture of someone on social media with their filtered face and, out of curiosity, I checked the filter out on myself. I looked at it and thought, ‘I totally look like a Pixar movie character’, then a light bulb just turned on in my head. Why not do a positive, family-oriented short film using the filter?,” Mia Rio says. “Because of the technical limitations in image resolution filming through the app and in the range of the effect’s precision combined with the fact that I used various phones of different camera qualities to film, etc., the idea was to do a simple two to three minute video with one other actor. We all got so excited with the results that it turned into a twenty-minute production. I only stopped creating more because I wanted it released by Christmas and wanted to have more resources to accomplish a longer length film.”
This creative approach had zero budget but has earned Mia time with investors who have reached out to her team looking to develop a Hollywood worthy feature film on the original story. Mia states she has already started writing the feature and plans to bring on other writers to the project.
The short film is a non-profit effort and is available now on the film’s website. It can be accessed at miarioonline.com/lastchristmasonearth.