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A new short film from award-winning writer / director / producer Phyllis Toben Bancroft

When a young woman is visited by Elonia, her higher self, everything changes despite having a bad day. Elonia’s job is challenging, as she must persuade the woman to release the judgment about her past, enabling her to embrace her inner light and the future.
Please join us at the Awareness Festival on October 6th at 8pm.

The Awareness Festival is an amazing downtown LA event, held at the Regal Cinema LA Live, 1000 W. Olympic Blvd. Even more outstanding is the performance of Kayla Manuel who takes on two roles in the film.

For tickets, click here

The Merge poster

The Merge Trailers

Filmmaking Team

Phyllis Bancroft

Writer | Director | Producer

Phyllis T. Bancroft photo
Read Phyllis's bio
Phyllis Bancroft is a talented filmmaker and director who pursued her passion for storytelling with just $500 when she moved from NYC to LA.

Her recent success includes the award-winning short film “…with salt,” which has been selected by over fifteen festivals and won Best Director at the Black Women’s Film Network Short Film Showcase and Best Actress at The Culver City Film Festival.

Phyllis’s impressive portfolio includes her role as Supervising Director for the Emmy-nominated web-series “Send Me,” creator/producer of the BET Lens on Talent-winning “SPENT,” and director of “BURNED,” currently available on Tubi.

She is also the CEO and Master Teaching Artist of Red Balloon Playroom, a 12-week film bootcamp for high school students.

Drawing from her own experience as an adoptee and outlier, Phyllis creates films that connect with those searching for their own tribe.

Kayla Manuel

“Phyllis” / “Elonia”

Kayla Manuel photo
Read Kayla's bio
Kayla Manuel is an actress, dancer and educator from Inglewood, California. She began her training as a child in several Los Angeles performing arts programs and dance schools under Debbie Allen and Alvin Ailey to pursue a career in entertainment.

After her featured performance in Debbie Allen’s Hot Chocolate Nutcracker televised on BET, Kayla graduated from Long Beach State University’s Theatre Arts program where she received the Dramatic Allied Arts Guild scholarship for Fine Arts in Acting. She graced the stage in several theater productions, such as “Good Boys and True,” directed by Hugh O’Gorman, “Polaroid Stories,” written by Naomi Iizuka, “Antigone X,” written by Paula Cizmar, and a Canadian tour remake of The Little Prince, “FLIGHT.” She has appeared in commercials such as Apple, Dove Men+Care in the Super Bowl XLIX on NBC and Instacart. Kayla made her on screen debut in award winning short films, Justice Delayed, directed by Janine Anne Uyanga and Phyllis Bancroft’s …with salt.

Kayla’s love for the arts and advocacy for change in her community has led her to earn a master’s degree in education, where she’s actively involved in shaping the future lives of children in inner city Los Angeles schools.

Kayla Manuel is currently represented by Egg Hunt Entertainment and The Savage Agency.

Kimby Caplan

Director of Photography

Kimby Caplan photo
Read Kimby's bio
Kimby Caplan is an award-winning filmmaker whose work as a Cinematographer and Director has taken her far from the mountains of her childhood.

Between lensing the social political commentary, HOW JACK BECAME BLACK, to traipsing about Eastern Europe following in the footsteps of an escapee from Communist Czechoslovakia, in the documentary Red Star, to roaming the streets of Old Havana in Cuba, followed by soldiers, for the documentary Cubamerican, shooting avocados and artichokes for HBO’s Sesame Street, Caplan’s latest visual contributions have considerable variety and purpose.

Barry Sales

Editor | VFX

Barry Sales photo
Barry Sales's bio
Barry Sales is an award-winning Picture Editor and Sound Designer born and raised in Winston Salem, NC. His love of post production has also fueled him to learn VFX and Graphic Design.

Between 2005-09, he attended and graduated from the University of North Carolina: School of the Arts; a stones throw away from his childhood neighborhood.

Barry currently works mostly editing high profile marketing promos/sizzles and documentary style featurettes, in addition to editing narrative shorts and features. His work has been featured on several networks and platforms for the world to see!

alwaysbarry.com

Olivia Malek

Production Designer

Olivia Malek photo
Read Olivia's bio
Olivia Malek is a Los Angeles-based production designer and graduate of Boston University’s film and television program.

With an eye for detail, she strives to create a personal and enchanting world for the audience to immerse themselves in. She is passionate about using film to uplift the stories and voices of those who are underrepresented in media.

Other recent projects include her work as a makeup artist on Babyface (2023), as well as the production designer on the upcoming short film Promise to Stronger Days (2023).

Janel Laws

Wardrobe

Janel Laws photo
Read Janel's bio
An innovative and captivating fashion connoisseur, Janel Laws was born on the beautiful island of St. Ann, Jamaica. Steeped in a country engulfed by rich heritage and diversity, her unique sense of street culture matched with a keen eye for couture flourishes from a deep understanding of traditional and unconventional style.

Laws’ entry into the world of high fashion began as an aspiring model. Her travels and experiences translated to styling, eventually interning with the PRB Showroom. Currently, Janel consults as a stylist for Koziak Productions.

Lyn Señora

Hair

Lyn Turner photo
Read Lyn's bio
Lyn Señora is a master hairstylist whose focus is to get or maintain her clients’ hair to its healthiest place — one client at a time.

Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Lyn Señora discovered her talents for doing hair by recreating styles on herself that she would see on the very few celebrity models/actresses whose skin color looked like hers. Soon after witnessing Lyn go through her trial and error stage while getting better with her craft, family and friends started asking for Lyn Señora’s assistance with their hair. The trust that they put in Lyn Señora to care for their hair had become her confidence booster.

After modeling in a few hair shows and working side-by-side with some of the top hair and fashion designers in Chicago Lyn Señora decided to enroll herself into Pivot Point International Beauty School. Over the years, Lyn Señora has worked with some of the best hair care companies, such as Luster’s, Soft Sheen, L’Oreal, Aveda, etc, while working in some of the hottest salons in Chicago where she thrived at building special bonds with all who sat in her chair.

Over the years, their relationships became more then just client/stylist. They built friendships based on love and hair.

In 2021 LynSeñora took her talents to the West Coast, moving to Los Angeles to reinvent herself and to fulfill her dreams. Here’s where you can catch her building new relationships, giving you the best cut of your life, while helping you maintain your mane.

Licensed Professional Cosmetologist

Nicole Evans

Makeup

Nicole Evans photo
Read Nicole's bio
Raised in Southern California, the progeny of two creatives, Nicole showed artistic predisposition from an early age. Studied all forms of creative expression: dance, music, literature, fashion, and beauty. Upon completing a formal education in fashion design and cosmetology, displayed a strong creative flair for art and self-expression and found her true calling, preferring to assist in empowering clients by revealing the version of themselves that best represents the way that they want to be received in the world.

Freelancing and working as an artist and product specialist for a highly regarded makeup artistry brand, Nicole continued with what she’d consider her true calling. A Certified Makeup Artist with an extensive background both fashion and beauty, Nicole Evans has mastered the realms of Film, Print, Stage, and Events.

Los Angeles Based.
Champion of Self Expression.
For over two decades.