Ride or Die

After college, Paula's California dreams intertwine with a reunion with her crush Jamie. A casual errand becomes a cathartic journey through the Midwest where a budding romance is transformed by a plot for vengeance.

Project type: Fiction Feature
Project status: Development
Writer/Director: Josalynn Smith
Producer: Matthew Keene Smith
Casting Director: Lois Drabkin
Impact Producer: Keely Weiss
Email: josalynnjsmith@gmail.com
Website: josalynnsmith.com
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After college, Paula’s California dreams intertwine with a reunion with her crush Jamie. A casual errand becomes a cathartic journey through the Midwest where a budding romance is transformed by a plot for vengeance.


PAULA reconnects with her high school crush, JAMIE, during an errand to Kohl’s. The encounter escalates into a rescue mission when Jamie faces false accusations of theft from her manager. Paula steps in to defend Jamie and provides a getaway vehicle. Jamie, with no ride home, invites herself to Paula’s house. Paula’s mother reluctantly allows Jamie to stay the night. In bed, Jamie discloses troubling details of childhood abuse at the hands of her father. Late night, Paula’s stepfather arrives home, leading to an altercation with Paula.

Convinced by Jamie that her home isn’t safe, Paula and Jamie make a pact to run away together. On the road, Paula’s tire blows, and they encounter ANTHONY, a predatory mechanic. Anthony solicits Jamie for a free fix while Paula contacts roadside assistance. Jamie retaliates by stealing Anthony’s cash and gun. They leave Anthony behind, but soon get pulled over by a police officer who turns out to be Anthony’s cousin. Aware of Anthony following them, they hide out at a drive-in theatre before continuing to Colorado. Anthony catches up to them, resulting in a struggle. Paula stabs him, and the two escape to a nearby motel.

Come morning, Paula hears about the stabbing on the radio, so they ditch the vehicle. Eventually, hippies offer them a ride, but Jamie wants to find her father. Paula declines, insisting on accompanying Jamie. The hippies provide them with an old fixie for the journey. When they arrive at Jamie’s father’s house, Paula waits outside. Gunshots are heard. Paula discovers Anthony’s gun in Jamie’s father’s blood. She takes Jamie downstairs, urging her to call for help. Jamie asks Paula to stay until the cops come. Paula agrees, but as they approach, she leaves Jamie alone and rides away on the bike, long before the cops arrive.

Meet the Filmmakers

Josalynn Smith – Writer/Director
Josalynn Smith is a queer black American filmmaker based in Los Angeles. They were honored with the Sundance Uprise Grant in 2021, awarded a residency at SFFILM as Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellow for their feature screenplay Something in the Water, and most recently, Josalynn was part of the 2022 Athena Film Festival Writers Lab for their pilot script L’Amazone. A graduate of Columbia University’s Film MFA program, their thesis short, Something in the Water, received the Sloan Foundation’s Production Grant. Additionally, Josalynn is the recipient of the Jesse Thompkins III Screenwriting Award from Columbia and spent time as an artist-in-residence at the Catwalk Institute. Their shorts, and a feature documentary on which they served as a narrator and videographer, have screened at St. Louis International Film Festival, Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Bentonville Film Festival and others. Josalynn is represented by Matt Leipzig at Modern Literary Arts.

Matthew Keene Smith – Producer
Matthew Keene Smith is an independent film producer based in Los Angeles. Films produced under his Twice Told Films banner include Heidi Saman’s Namour that won the LA Muse Jury Award at the 2016 LA Film Festival and Neil Drumming’s Big Words, a 2013 NY Times Critic’s Pick, both released by Ava DuVernay’s distribution collective ARRAY; and 9 Rides from Oscar-winning Director Matthew A. Cherry that world-premiered at South by Southwest in 2016. Other credits include The Thing About Us from Director Keely Weiss and Executive Producer Joey Soloway that premiered at Outfest 2016; Marie Jamora’s Flip the Record that won Best Short at Urbanworld 2017 and Jamora’s Harana that won Best Narrative Short at the Sarasota Film Festival 2021. Formerly a production executive at Myriad Pictures, Matt began his career working for director Bob Rafelson on HBO’s Poodle Springs and as Associate Producer on Rafelson’s No Good Deed.

Lois Drabkin – Casting Director
Lois Drabkin is a Casting Director who has worked extensively on many projects, most notably in independent film, including major festival premieres and Independent Spirit Award acting-nominated features. Additional credits include the Emmy-winning first season of the Showtime documentary series investigating climate change, Years of Living Dangerously, the second season of HBO’s documentary series The Vow, and as part of the casting teams for Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, the acclaimed series The Wire, and Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. A member of the Casting Society of America, Lois has been nominated for multiple Artios Awards for Outstanding Casting.

Keely Weiss – Impact Producer
Keely Weiss is a writer, filmmaker and attorney. She is the director of the short films Do You Need A Ride and The Thing About Us, which premiered at Outfest and was executive produced by Joey Soloway. She was formerly the Features Editor at Harper’s BAZAAR and has written for Interview, Nylon, and LA Weekly. Keely began her career working with Noah Baumbach and producer Lila Yacoub on the film Frances Ha before going on to support Soloway on Amazon’s Emmy-winning Transparent. She is a graduate of USC School of Cinematic Arts and UCLA School of Law and a member of the State Bar of California.

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