Bavlina Youri’s passion for theatrical arts blossomed in Turlock during her time as a student at California State University, Stanislaus, so now that she is ready to embark on her directorial debut, she thought it only natural to return to her roots.
Youri’s production company Monarch Moon Films will be in Turlock starting Nov. 16 to film her short independent film “I Meant To Tell You.”
Not only is Youri serving as the director and producer of the film, she also wrote the script and is one of the lead actors.
“There are a lot of roles I have to fill, but when you are so passionate about the project it doesn’t seem like work,” Youri said. “It’s very exciting to see something that I put down on paper coming to life.”
“I Meant To Tell You” will be a 20 minute film that Youri says is about “a couple’s courage being put to the test when their biggest fears resurface.” The production crew is mostly drawn from professionals around Turlock and will use various spots around town in the filming.
“The storyline comes from my experiences in Turlock and the setting and landscape of Turlock plays into the overall tone of the film,” Youri said.
Youri graduated Turlock High School in 2002 and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanislaus State in political science. It was during her time as Stanislaus State that she started delving into theatrics. She enrolled in some of the university’s theatre classes and worked behind the scenes of several productions, and while it was something she truly enjoyed, it didn’t seem like it could be something she could do as a profession. Youri’s career in entertainment might never have taken flight if she hadn’t been laid off from a job here in Turlock during the recession.
“After I got laid off I was either going to go to law school or pursue a job in the arts,” Youri said. “It was a coin toss, but then my grandmother died and I decided life is short and I needed to pursue my dreams.”
Her pursuit took her to Long Beach, where she had a successful stint as a freelance makeup artist, but the behind the scenes work was no longer cutting it for her. On a whim she decided to try out for The Actors Studio Drama School in New York. Her very first audition for anything was done in front of the school’s admission board.
“I was doing a monologue from ‘The Story of Us’ and I thought it was going alright, but then they asked me to step outside,” Youri recalled. “A woman came out and asked me how I felt the audition went and I told her that I didn’t do what I had wanted to do. She worked with me for a bit and then I went back up on stage and did it just like a person talking. They don’t normally do this, but as I was leaving I was told I was in the program. I had never felt better in my life.”
Claiming one of 42 spots that hundreds had auditioned for may have seemed like the hard part, but Youri still needed to break the news to her parents that she had changed career paths and was about to move across country.
“They didn’t even know I was in New York auditioning,” Youri said. “When I told them, they said ‘ok, come home and let’s talk about this.’ It was a surprise to them, but once they saw how passionate I was about it, they supported my decision.”
Youri earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Acting from The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University and went on to land several roles in theatrical productions in New York. She also formed Monarch Moon Films with two other partners and together the three women have set an ambitious goal to film and release three films within the next year. Youri’s is the first of their endeavor.
“We want a company that will help push women to the forefront of film-making and help them direct and produce their own projects,” Youri said.
Monarch Moon Films has partnered with the non-profit agency Fractured Atlas to assist with the financing of the projects. The production company will be hosting a fundraiser from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Udder Place at 110 W. Main Street. A portion of all drink sales during the fundraiser will go towards covering the cost of the film production.
The project also has a link for donations at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/3-women-3-films#/