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  • Talon Stradley

S1E4 - Sophie Rivera & The Church of the False Morning Sun

Now, the rule is if you have a prophecy, you’ve got to start your story with a prophecy. So without further ado, the prophecy of the Church of the False Morning Sun...

"My forefathers, and the forefathers before them, and the forefathers before them spoke of the day that our world would be lit by the False Morning Sun. For now, we are bound by the natural cycles. The sun rising and setting, the stars, the moon. For years, we dreamed of a time when we would not rely on this light. When we could see of our own accord, at times of our choosing. Our Prophecy is that of the False Morning Sun. A source of light of man’s own making. It would be created by the Mother of the Morning Sun. A young woman who would lead us out of the dark…"

This was the original prophecy. It was one most people ignored. The Church of the False Morning Sun was a relatively small organization. They hid themselves deep in the mountains of Southern California in order to wait for the prophecy to come true. Strangely enough, it kind of did.

Sofia Rivera was a filmmaker. Well, she was a film student, but you can be a filmmaker and a film student at the same time. She was working on her final project, her thesis. She decided to make a movie about norse mythology. She became obsessed with the mythos ever since she read the Thor comics as a kid. The imagery of harsh winters covering forested lands really spoke to her. It was something different than the orange warmness that permeated the south-west.

It was winter. The nights were long. Sophie was traveling the mountains with a camera, a microphone, and a spotlight. She had a film crew, about a dozen people helping her out, but all of them stayed home and quit when they heard about the storm. Sofia was determined, though. She would make this film even if she had to act it all out herself.

That’s when she came across three rudimentary log cabins. She looked around. She didn’t see anyone. She did see the clouds rolling in and the first snowflakes coming down. To her, these abandoned cabins were a godsend. She would be able to stay in the cabins through the storm and film when she could. The door to the cabin creaked open, she took a step inside, and that’s when she saw it.

There was a group of people, about five or six of them. They were all wrapped in blankets sitting up on the floor. They were all looking at Sophie.

One of them quickly stood up and walked to her. The One Who Walked was an old man, wrapped in cheap fitted bed sheets. He told Sophie that she was the chosen one. She was destined to bring them the False Morning Sun.

Sophie was… confused. She took a step back, and that’s when The One Who Walked noticed what she was carrying. It was a light, and a powerful one at that. The Church of the False Morning Sun had never seen an electrical light of this magnitude before. They circled around Sophie and The One Who Walked reaffirmed that she was the chosen one.

Now, this was an odd situation. I don’t know if any of you have wandered the snowy mountains only to find yourself in the presence of a strange post-ancient cult, but it isn’t as fun as it sounds. The Church of the False Morning Sun did not have running water. This meant that showers and toothbrushes were nonexistent. Chanting requires the wide opening of the mouth and the raising of the arms. This was extremely unpleasant for poor Sophia. She coughed and asked them to give her some space… and they immediately did.

Sophie then asked them to all raise their arms… and they did. She asked one of them to set up a backlight and get a couple of C-Clamps and wax paper to diffuse the light. The church member did not do this. Sophie sighed. She knew she had found a crew, a loyal crew, but it would require a lot of legwork to educate on the ins and outs of a film set.

That’s why that Fall she started the Sofia Rivera Southern California Mountain Film School Institute, or SRSCMFSI. SRSCMFSI had an amazing first year. They had about 30 people go through their classes, all of which were taught by Sophie and the minimal gear she had brought. At the end of the year, the entirety of the Church of the False Sun graduated! In order for SRSCMFSI to stay accredited in the state of California, they had to have at least a 70% placement rate in the industry. So, Sophie hired 21 of the 30 graduates. The other 9 stayed in the abandoned log cabins, supposedly working various service industry jobs before filing for bankruptcy under the crushing weight of student debt. And just like that, Sophie had her film crew!

While they were adept at running a camera and choosing microphones, they were terrible actors. But they got the job done. Over that winter, Sophie shot her first ever short film. It was a well written script, even if it was a little ambitious. For example, the lighting strike from Thor’s hammer was near impossible. In order to come in under budget, they went out during a thunderstorm and kept the camera rolling while an actor stood outside holding a hammer in the air. They got the shot and, surprisingly, no one died! The actor was even out of his coma in time to see the movie premiere!

And it was a fantastic premiere. It was one of those student-showcase things so it was a small auditorium and it was packed. The Church of the False Morning Sun took up nearly four rows! Sophie’s film, titled Thor, The Hammer, and the Death of Manners, was between Attack at the Third Turn, a psychological horror film about a trans-dimensional paper street, and Pimp Fabric, a controversial documentary about velvet. Sophie’s film was well received. There wasn’t a standing ovation, but several audience members thought about giving her one, so, you know.

The award show that night was one for the history books to be sure. You see, Thor, The Hammer, and the Death of Manners was nominated for Best Visual Effects. It would’ve won, but the committee discovered that there was no special effects used. The lightning was actual lighting. The committee believed that since this was real it could not be considered special effects. Someone else on the committee brought up the fact that acting isn’t “real,” its just make pretend. After much deliberation, the Committee decided to award Best Visual Effects to Dominic Jesecki for his role of Catamari in Farmers are Robots.

However, Sophie’s movie did win the Audience Choice Award. Because of this and, you know, starting an entire film school, Sofia Rivera caught the eye of our collective here at Newton’s Dark Room. Now, she is our in-house video production power house. With the help of The Church of the False Morning Sun, Sophie creates short films, commercials, and music videos for our artists. In fact, you can see her first contribution right now on YouTube.

We wanted to do something special for the end of this year. The holidays are always a time for family, memories, and a childhood home. I personally wrote a song about this titled Found Voice Calling. I wrote about what I remember growing up as a kid during this time of year. I thought about what it would be like if I could go back to my childhood home and have a giant reunion with all of those people who used to inhabit my world. The other folks here were gracious enough to lend their talents to the creation of the song. I hope you enjoy it and the accompanying music video. It’s about family and friends, and you are both of those things. We’re gonna play it for you in just a second. It’s called Found Voice Calling and you can find it on Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, and wherever else you get your music.

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