Filmed in Stillwater

‘Dear Daddy’ entered in the Z-fest film festival

Actress Emma Walek writes a letter to her on-screen dad, actor Edward Linder, in Sandra Capra’s short film, “Dear Daddy.” Photo Courtesy of Sandra Capra

A short film made at a Stillwater home has been entered into the Z-fest film festival in Minneapolis on March 6.

Sandra Capra is the writer of “Dear Daddy,” her first short film, and she said the whole process seemed like magic. Capra’s script happened after she was unable to go to a Jan. 27 retreat.

“I work for myself and I was in between projects at the time. I’ve always been a business consultant but I learned some filmmaking and I thought that now would be the time to do something with it. I learned about the Z-Fest and I set up a timeline for myself to meet to get this project going,” she said.

The short was filmed at the home of Capra’s family friends, Randy, Lauren and Ellie Capra, and features the voice-over talent of Janet Fogg,  who is from Stillwater.
The movie is about a child who struggles to understand the effect her father’s alcohol problem has on her family. Sandra Capra said she was inspired by all the children she is surrounded with in her daily life, and some people she knows who have dealt with alcohol issues.

To make the work authentic, Capra met with drug and alcohol counselors and rehab facilities to ensure she kept her script true to what some children experience and capture all the facets of what a family goes through when a loved one deals with alcohol abuse.

After she felt her script was ready, she attended an annual Minnesota Film Party to see if she could find a cast, crew and directors to help her. She managed to get director of photography Mike Hartzel, executive producer Sven Shelgren and on the sound side, senior producers Kent Militzer, Steve Nagel, and Jim Cosgrove. While 6-year-old Emma Walek, Edward Linder, Erin Newburg and Audrey Haney made up the make-up of the family in the film. Fogg played the grandmother.

“There was an every day magic surrounding the 7-minute project,” Capra said. “I learned there’s still magic and people out there that want to help the little guy. To have the top industry people to offer themselves to my project was amazing. I would have tears of gratitude every day during the production. I couldn’t believe that everyone kept saying yes to me and it made the project all that much more special to me.”

The film gained quite a crew by the end of the experience.

“We had three people, my good friends and the actors at first, and the next thing I know there are 30 people there with scaffolding and lighting all around my little project.”

Capra hopes that people see the story is about love. She hopes viewers understand the film shows that families can stick together and love each other when issues arise.

“I know people will have an emotional reaction. In our private screenings, which we’ve kept pretty much under wraps. a lot of people have had an emotional reaction.” Capra said. “One guy said that he was glad it ended happy, but it’s shot so that a person makes it their own and can make it their own.”

Capra is organizing showings for her family and friends. The first round of the Z-Fest is 7 p.m. March 6-7 at Riverview Theatre in Minneapolis, with “Dear Daddy” debuting on March 6. Tickets are $10 cash at the door. A second round of showings is at The Mall of America. The 30-second trailer for the movie can be viewed on the Z-fest Facebook page or If the trailer receives the most likes, the team will win a prize.