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Alumni Blog: Lianne Rose Richards

Professional headshot photo of Lianne Richards with dramatic lighting in front of a blue background

Lianne Rose Richards delves into the making of her 2023 thesis film, 99 Thing I Think of Before I Sleep.


99 Things I Think of Before I Sleep races through the memories of an insomniac who introduces herself as Joon. With a heart full of conflicting emotions and a mind tortured by nostalgia, Joon lays awake grappling with the ebb and flow of people in her life, leaving her in the dark and questioning the mysterious hand of fate and life’s cosmos. Only after a near death experience does Joon find herself a spiritual awakening, a deeper understanding of her own existence and a sort of beauty in the pain that we all feel.

This passion project that derived from my personal experiences with the bitter parts of life. For me, living with depression is nothing to be ashamed of, and the idea of grief is something that connects all humans. This film aims to address the bitter parts of life and expose the peculiar “shared trauma” that ALL people have beautiful ties to.

Crewmembers on Lainne's film prepare for an underwater scene with several crewmembers gathered around the edge of a pool while another in full diving gear floats in the water.

With the idea of depressing sleepless nights in mind, the writing process was truly sparked after my professor and thesis advisor Todd Stephens asked me “What do you think of before you fall asleep?” It was important for me to be as vulnerable as possible when writing the screenplay, to deeply connect to others with the story in hopes that the audience would then connect with themselves a bit more too. To put pen to paper, I had to go through layers and layers of memories, pulling out the ones that I perhaps wished to forget. And then I had to understand how I felt in these forgotten moments. My goal was to tie words to those past feelings and then connect them to a nostalgic, appeasing picture for the audience to engage with.

99 Things was a five day shoot made up of a total of 87 cast and crew members devised of young, talented filmmakers and friends who gave it their all in pursuit to showcase their own creative emotions. The two biggest challenges during production was to ensure the complete safety of cast and crew with filming live animals, young children, underwater, stunts, and pyrotechnics; and scheduling the shoot to fit the schedules of the cast, crew, rental equipment, locations and their moves.

Crew on Lianne's film set prepare for the shoot

After desperately looking for an actress who would properly fit the role and tenacious acting requirements of the character Joon, we had the lucky opportunity to cast Alicia Crowder (Tell Me Lies Hulu, 2022). The biggest challenge for the crew was changing the entire schedule of the already planned shoot into just one night to fit- at the time- the newly engaged actress’ wedding ceremony. With hearts full of dedication, myself, our producer, AD, and casting director spent hours late into the night scribbling a new schedule on a chalkboard to make things possible, and we did! Cheers to my crew and Alicia!

Chalkboard filled with plans for Liannes' shooting schedule

Between low budgets, varying class schedules, and long shoot days, making a student thesis film is not easy! As a director, I needed to get other talented students to dedicate their time to this project and see my vision through without compromise. The way I got help for my film was to help other thesis students with their own films! This is something I planned well before my senior year.

Still from Lianne's film showing a young wmoan sitting at her desk in her room with a light from a desklamp shining on her.

The dedication and time can be seen not only on screen but in the 80+ hours shooting, as well as months of pre-production. Give or take, the crew was made up of 90% of SVA students and alumni including DP- Tony Vallés (2022), Line Producer – Grace Pomilla (2023), AD – Onur Canik (2024), Editor – Shay Burgman (2024), and Costume Designer Sachie Hara (2026).

The purpose of this college thesis film from Class of 2023 stems more than just for a grade. It is an un-apologetic, vulnerable film to meant provide comfort to individuals who have experienced anxious and suicidal thoughts, reminding them that they are not so alone. This film also aspires to increase awareness and shed new light on these sensitive topics that are often avoided in our society.

Poster for Lainne's film 99 Thing I think of before i sleep

To show support of this ongoing project and read more about it please visit their Seed&Spark website :
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Filed Under: Alumni Blog