• Director

    Heidi Miami Marshall

  • Country, Year, Length

    United States, 2022, 17:48

  • Category

    Narrative Short

  • Format

    Arri Alexa

  • Festival Year


Film Screening & Ticket Information

When & Where to See this Film!

QUEENS CORNER: 6 films as diverse as our Borough.

April 28, 2024 @ 4:30PM • MoMI Redstone

View the Trailer


JOHNNY is a 12-year-old Latino boy whose mom, an undocumented immigrant, has been arrested by I.C.E. She needs an immigration lawyer, but a good lawyer costs $5K.

EMILIO, Johnny’s dad, asks ÁLVARO, a drug dealer, for a loan. But Álvaro knows Emilio can’t repay $5K. So Álvaro offers Emilio a job instead — work for his illegal drug enterprise and Álvaro will give him the money he needs. Emilio hesitates at this dangerous offer.

  • Heidi Miami Marshall
    Muscle, More Than, A Through M
  • Johnny Sanchez
    A Through M
  • Mathia Vargas
    En el Séptimo Día, High Heel, Lisey’s Story
  • Carlos Ibarra
    Silk, Con Dios, Vitality, Vinyl Underground, The Jump
  • Johnny Sánchez
    Find Me Guilty, Even Money, Muscle
  • JLove Calderón
    11:55, Sound of Revolution, From Gangs to Garden, Nobody’s Nobody’s, Asia One; Expect the Unexpected, s,
  • Jennifer Sklias-Gahan
    Data Management, Donut Shop, Matilda: an Urban Ghost Story,
  • Luz Corona
  • Frank Oz
    What About Bob, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Bowfinger, Star Wars, In & Outt
  • Michelle Hurd
    Star Trek Picard, Blindspot, Bad Hair
  • Heidi Miami Marshall
  • Andrew McClain
  • Art Chudabala
  • Gavin Guerro
    Key Cast
    Daddy Daughter Trip, Red
  • Johnny Sánchez
    Key Cast
    Bowfinger, E.R., Transformers, The Equalizer, Blue Bloods, Side Effects, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, FBI: Most Wanted
  • Alexis Cruz
    Key Cast
    Stargate, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, The Old Man and the Sea, Touched by an Angel, American Family, Tortilla Heaven, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Blue Bloods, FBI
  • Andres Piña
    Key Cast
    Crabs in a Barrel
  • Carter Jones
    Key Cast
  • Izzabella Timonera
    Key Cast
  • Jennah Roman
    Key Cast
  • Jamal Solomon
    Penny, Angelfish, Flowers, Uncensored, Tomorrow Is Too Late, Metrics, Catch-30, Enlightenments, Magic Master, The Fragrance Thief, Blackwell Summers Mysteries, Composing Life, Attila, Show & Tell Tango, Muscle Memory, As of Yet
  • Josy Rodriguez
    Casting Director
    Blue Bloods, Harlem, Gotham, Fauna, Killing Evan, Hightown
  • Franck Méndez
    Morbius, Dolittle, Ambulance, Nope, Extraction 2, Number 33, Starry Night, Mah
  • Melisa McGregror
    Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, Big Eyes, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Girl on the Train,
  • Orlando Perez Rosso
    Get Out, Andromeda, Nope, Implacables: Mexico

Director Statement

FROM WRITER JOHNNY SÁNCHEZ: This story is inspired by true events that occurred to me as a Latino kid growing up in NYC. Here is a personal testimony from someone who saw our film. These are their words:

“This morning a man got in my face. I didn’t give him my attention, so he yelled, “Spic” twice, walked in front of me, spit at my feet. I thought about a short film I saw recently titled “S.P.I.C”, @spicfilm, that spoke on reclaiming that derogatory term, and turning it into something powerful. So, I embodied that. I kept my cool, stayed in control, and kept walking… I will not let someone’s word/opinion become my identity. I reframe this man’s claim because, l am a Spanish Person in Control. S.P.I.C.”

You can read the original IG post referenced above, here: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cx82jwQvcby/

This is the power of film! We hope BIPOC folks may experience this film for themselves!

I want to mention that some people have asked me: “Why was Heidi Miami Marshall chosen as the director?” I understand the reason behind their question. After all, this is a heavily BIPOC themed film – and Heidi is a white woman.

To clearly answer them — I, Johnny Sánchez (the screenwriter who’s childhood is the inspiration behind this film), asked Heidi Miami Marshall to direct my film – and I did that because she has intimately known my family for over 2 decades. But worried that her being white would be a distraction for the film, Heidi said no. She felt that if she directed S.P.I.C. it might be rejected.

At that point, the 3 lead producers of the film (who are all Latino — aka of Latiné descent) met with Heidi and the 3 of us reaffirmed our unanimous sentiment that we want her to direct the film due to her intimate knowledge of the real family behind this story.

The 3 lead producers also expressed to Heidi that one of the points behind Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is for BIPOC folks to be at the head of our own stories, and for us to have the right to choose who we want to work with. We knew we wanted Heidi Miami Marshall as the director of S.P.I.C. – and it was a unanimous choice between all the 3 lead producers – who are all Latiné.

At that point, Heidi agreed to direct the film — and it has been a HUGE gift to see film festivals founded and/or co-founded by BIPOC folks really embrace our story. Without them, our film wouldn’t be getting the attention it is getting. I have to be honest and add that… I can not say the same about film festivals that are solely founded by white folks. Such film festivals have shunned us. I (Johnny) can fully confirm that I’ve received phone calls (and emails) from white programmers telling me there is worry about playing S.P.I.C. because 1) of its title, and 2) because a white person directed it.

This is the ugly side of “respectability politics” and “politically correct”, that destroys genuine diversity, equity and inclusion. They think they are being politically correct; but you either come correct or you don’t. In my opinion, these “concerns” expressed by such white folks only keep important dialogue at bay, and it is all due to their white fear and white guilt — masquerading as “woke, political correction”. It must be said, their attitude and approach just simply gives more food to the extreme right.

Heidi Miami Marshall, my director/creative partner/wife, and our entire creative team are excited to share this story. We hope to encourage further dialogue around these topics.

FROM HEIDI MIAMI MARSHALL: I grew up in a small rural town. When I first moved to Manhattan it was a huge, new world that burst my idea of what is America. Years later, I met Johnny (my husband — and the writer of our short). I moved to Queens with him and his LatinX family — and that’s when I truly realized the diversity of our country. That’s when I saw what I now call The Real America.

I’ve been immersed in my husband’s LatinX family, culture, and community for over two decades. When I first heard this story (based on real events that happened to him as child), I knew he had to tell it.

This story is inspired by true events that Johnny experienced as a child growing up in New York City. At first he was reluctant to write about it, because it reveals certain scars and stigmas his family worked hard to overcome. After many conversations, he found a way he could write about it all. But both of his parents were very upset with him that he was going to reveal certain details about personal family experiences. Now that both of his parents have seen the film, and after everything they see happening to our nation, they are very proud and supportive of the project. They both even make small cameos in the movie. Making this project –bringing it to life has been important for his family and has generated immense purpose as it was created.

Making this project, bringing it to life has been a six-year journey; from development, to finding incredibly passionate collaborators, raising funds, and finally… making it. Especially since I’m a white female, I do not treat my responsibility as director to this project lightly.

Additionally, I feel proud to say that a highly diverse and wildly talented creative team brought this film to life. Including Producers Mathia Vargas and Carlos Ibarra, Cinematographer Jamal Solomon, Editor Franck Méndez, Casting Director Josy Rodriguez, Composers Orlando Perez Rosso and Melisa McGregor; who all collaborated brilliantly with the whole cast and crew.

The script won First Place at Diverse Voices/We Screenplay Competition in 2020, Finalist at Blue Cat Screenplay Competition in 2019, Third Place at Vail Film Festival Screenplay Contest in 2020.

Together, we have carefully crafted a story that we think is very personal and, at the same time, relatable to a wider audience. It has been a six year journey from development, finding incredibly passionate collaborators, raising funds, and finally… making it.

We hope you enjoy the film. We’re excited to share it with audiences, and to encourage further dialogue around these issues. Let’s create impact!


I was 9-years old when a white kid called me spic for the first time — and it wasn’t the last time either. S.P.I.C. captures what I experienced as a Latino kid growing up in NYC. My parents arrived in the US as “illegal aliens” – my mother lead the charge seeking the American Dream. My parents hate me sharing this, they feel it’s a stigma, but the neighborhoods we lived in were riddled with crime and gang activity. Gangsters would see my dad working hard for minimal wages and they offered him fast money opportunities. I witnessed it. I was present, I was there.

That’s what many folks who don’t come from these environments don’t comprehend. Not every gangster is a “tough” guy, like Hollywood likes to make us think. Regular every day, folks who feel trapped in their situations also turn to crime. They are uncles, aunts, parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, neighbors. And NO ONE forces you to join. Otherwise, the moment trouble appears you’ll be the first to abandon ship. These organizations thrive because the pains of an inhumane society foster the temptation to do such crimes.

America sells its “American Dream”, so worldwide people yearn to come to the USA. Once they arrive, they find the “Dream” has many traps. So much so, that many conversations are centered around getting out of their situations — by any means necessary. It’s such a common topic that, eventually, a child will eavesdrop into the adults talking and absorb their conversation like a sponge.

By the time I was 11-years-old, many childhood friends and relatives had joined gangs. One childhood friend said to me: “Johnny, I’m not gonna make it outta this neighborhood. But you, you got a chance with your acting thing”. He was a 14-years-old weapons dealer and felt crime was his only choice. I still carry that with me.

But I won’t lie, I too was tempted.

It’s not like my parents wanted this, but it’s what happens when you find yourself Lower-Class. I want to make this specific point very clear; it’s not just being a youth of color… it’s also lower-class. It’s the double whammy of class and race challenges. The idea of “I gotta do whatever I gotta do” is so prevalent in America that, of course, Lower-Class Youth who feel cut out of the “American Dream” might turn to crime.

One day, a drug dealer offered my fathered thousands of dollars to move “stuff” – and I heard about it. In all honesty, I too was susceptible to its temptation. I too wanted it, and I said to my father: “Dad, we can do this.” S.P.I.C. explores this father-son journey.

As you can imagine; the issue of race has been in my life since I was young. American culture pervades world culture. Since race in the USA is defined mainly in binary (black & white), that race binary POV has now permeated the whole world. There’s a scene in the film when our 3 kids speak about what is to be black and white. That conversation actually occurred when I was 11-years-old.

When I visited Colombia and saw my family’s diversity — the Black (African) and Indigenous (Amerindian), as well as the Spaniard (White, European) — it created a shift for me. Seeing my family upfront it was undeniable that we (as Latinés) are more than just one or two things… we actually break and defy the old unary and binary definitions of race. But due to America’s limited definitions of race, growing up I found myself struggling to understand the intricacy of my (“ternary”) identity and history.

Colonization pushes BIPOC folks to approximate ourselves mainly to whiteness. Hence, I’ve had to work to embrace the Black (African) and Indigenous (aka Amerindian) in me, as well as the White (Caucasian/Spaniard) in me. I’m not just 1 or 2 colors, and I do not wish to value one more or less than the other.

As Latinos/Latinas/Latiné we’re a “non-binary” rainbow. It’s about claiming our full definition as Latinés. Otherwise, the damage will continue.

S.P.I.C. reflects my experiences as a Latino kid in the USA, with a highlight on the father-son journey. They’re both looking for hope in a world of darkness and division. May this little film inspire audiences of all ages and backgrounds to also seek hope. In a conflict-ridden world you don’t have to sell your soul. Of course, it’s not very easy to do, but it is 100% possible to achieve.

– Heidi & Johnny

Director Biography

Heidi Miami Marshall and Johnny Sánchez are a husband/wife team. Johnny wears the actor, writer and producer hat – while Heidi wears the director hat. Yet, they both collaborate on everything in such a way that their collaboration becomes one. Everything they create together is in true partnership.

The story is inspired by experiences from Johnny’s childhood. His family arrived undocumented into the USA, and the film touches on all these themes. Some people have asked: “Why was Heidi Miami Marshall chosen as the director?” Johnny (whose childhood inspired the events in the film) asked Heidi Miami Marshall to direct film because she’s intimately known his family for over 2 decades.

With that in mind — Heidi directs, Johnny writes and they both produce together. Baz Luhrmann has called Heidi “a director of first rate talent and ability.”

Heidi Miami Marshall is a Theater and Film Director and former Casting Director. She has worked extensively on Broadway, TV and Film.

Able to pull the best performances with nuanced layers, she’s also an in-demand actor coach and owns a top NYC Acting Studio. She coached Jack Harlow for WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP screen test, Halle Bailey’s LITTLE MERMAID (DISNEY) screen test, Michael Cimmino for LOVE, VICTOR (HULU), Ashley Romans on Y: THE LAST MAN (HULU), Jahkara Smith on NOS4A2 (AMC), and many others. Most recently, Heidi was the on- set coach for LITTLE AMERICA (APPLE TV+), Exec Produced by Sian Heder (Academy Award Winner).

Johnny has over three decades of experience in the entertainment industry, a multi-passionate actor, writer and producer. As a writer, Johnny’s script for S.P.I.C. (based on true events from his youth) won 1st Place at Diverse Voices/WeScreenplay Competition 2020, Finalist at Blue Cat 2019 Screenplay Competition, Quarterfinalist at PAGE International Screenwriting Awards Competition 2021, and Third place at Vail Film Festival Screenplay Contest 2020. His feature screenplay — AMERICAN BUBBLE (currently in active development) — has ranked in the top 5% of screenplays; most notably at Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Competition and The Black List.

As a producer, Johnny produced MUSCLE — directed by Heidi. Muscle played at over 30 film festivals and won over 6 awards – including, Best Narrative and Best of the Fest Award. Johnny also co-produced FIND ME GUILTY directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Vin Diesel & Peter Dinklage — and EVEN MONEY, starring Academy Award Winners Kim Basinger & Forest Whitaker.

For more about Heidi – please visit: www.HeidiMarshall.com
For more about Johnny – please visit: www.JohnnySanchez.com