"As a filmmaker in a major city that’s primary identity and commerce is not centered in the arts, I know first-hand how easy it is to overlook the incredibly talented artists that inhabit a place like Washington, DC. I wanted to make a film that wasn’t on the nose about DC’s under-appreciated arts culture, but one that gives a voice to young artists that feel stuck in a place that isn’t ostensibly positioned to supporting their art-form; the directionless singer that doesn’t know where or how to begin.
When writing DAKOTA, I wanted the audience to follow our protagonist, a tacitly ordinary millennial, through a tough week that’s representative of the confusing first years after college; that ambivalent time where a person has to figure out how to kickstart their life (or not). Dakota is constantly getting in her own way every time the universe seems to give her an opportunity to take a leap forward. Still, despite her mostly self-inflicted missteps and failed relationship, her saving grace is the one thing she can’t screw up: raw talent, and raw talent transcends geography, circumstance, and time.
After writing the screenplay, I knew that I needed to partner with the right musician to create the songs for the film, and in Phoebe Ryan I not only found the right songwriter, but I found the film’s eponymous lead, “Dakota”. Phoebe, who is already a successful musician and songwriter, was a first-time actress, but I knew after one meeting with her that she had what it would take to deliver a fully rounded performance both as lead actress and singer. In the months leading up to production, Phoebe and I discussed what the songs needed to be, and with my loose direction, she went on to create the wonderful music you hear in the film. It was very important to me that the film delivered a high-caliber musical experience.
As a filmmaker I wanted to tell a clear and engaging story, about a young artist trying to find her way. Through DAKOTA, I explore a few questions that many millennials face: How to take a first step into this thing called "life"? Why can relationships sometimes unintentionally distract us from pursuing our dreams? And what if you have a talent - a real gift - what do you do with it? So DAKOTA came naturally to me: the story of an underestimated singer, full of talent - set in an artistically underestimated city - paving her way, one song at a time."
- ROBERTO CARMONA, Writer/Director/Producer