An open mic, the people who come, and the new one experiencing it all for the first time.

A young woman goes on a cathartic journey through memory and imagination inspired by the performers at an open mic. A story of self-discovery, acceptance, and the transformative power of art.

In a culture where the marginalized are repeatedly othered, we wanted to tell a story in honor of the spaces that make us feel seen.

HEARTSTORM is a narrative feature film about a young woman named Lucia attending an open mic for the first time and being forever changed. Lucia is a closet poet, so when she arrives at the mic and is prompted to put her name on the list, she politely declines, opting instead to just take it all in as a member of the audience. Throughout the course of the evening, her memory is triggered by the performers, launching her into dream-like flashbacks in which the artists on stage take on the roles of various people in her life. Through a series of sometimes humorous and sometimes heartbreaking flashbacks, she is forced to examine her views on family, love, and queerness.

Director Jerry White Jr. had a similar experience back in 2016 which inspired him to co-write from this perspective. A veteran of open mics since 1992, Jerry has long been attracted to niche creative subcultures, outsider artists, and passionate amateurs. What set this particular open mic apart from the many he'd attended over the years was the vibe, structure, and diverse community devoted to sharing the space. While there are plenty of spaces scattered throughout the country that serve these niche wild-hearted folks of common spirit, only LA’s RecessMic has Arianna Lady Basco at the helm.

Lady Basco has been curating dynamic intentional spaces since 2006. She's the founder of the arts organization Palms Up Academy and hosts its weekly open mic in Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles. Like Jerry and the award-winning documentary he produced, 20 Years of Madness (2016), which premiered open night at Slamdance, Arianna has continually engaged in filmmaking endeavors such as The Fabulous Filipino Brothers (2021) which premiered at SXSW, and the award-winning Glimmer (2019) with Rosario Dawson. As different as they are—Jerry a 6'7" working class white DIY Metro Detroit brand of weirdo and Arianna a 5'1" single mom LA-raised Pinay artsy-fartsy type—there are two important things these creatives find common ground on: they are drawn to the courageous vulnerable ones in society who are willing to share their stories against all odds, and both want to amplify those voices through whatever resources they've acquired in their careers.

We made this film because sacred spaces like these should be highlighted as one of the purest examples of how we can co-exist with humanity. Heartstorm reflects the ethos of RecessMic, which welcomes music, dance, poetry, acting, magic, and comedy: this mic is truly open. Beyond the expansiveness of genre, age, race, sexuality, and gender, Lady B navigates into “B-Sides,” a remixed presentation of the evening’s work that culminates in a series of entertaining impromptu performance exercises. Lucia's story is adapted from many of Lady B's own life experiences and poetically woven together with original pieces written by the featured artists. It's like a cinematic translation of B-Sides—taking disparate material and transforming it into a new work. While the lead cast is a diverse mix of Filipino-American, African-American, Mexican-American Acjachemen, and Vietnamese-American, their pieces reflect universal journeys of love, family, heartbreak, and identity. These are the common themes that Lucia resonates with which launches her into her memories. Proof that we can find a little bit of ourselves, regardless of race or background, in another person's story.

Although Heartstorm is an all-new original work, no creative project manifests out of thin air. Seeds can be found in the 2003 play "(gasp)" which opened in Brooklyn and evolved into the play "Heartstorms," where it was a template for artists to explore their work theatrically. Arianna and Jerry knew there had to be a way to put the open mic experience onto the big screen, exploring moments of catharsis while utilizing the magic of B-Sides to see things from another perspective. This movie is not a documentary, but it is full of truth. The audience is invited to open up to these stories and characters in a way where empathy can bloom. The world of Heartstorm is one in which empathy is a given, and healing is offered up for the taking.

95% People of Color Cast & Crew
70% Female Cast & Crew
65% LGBTQ Lead Cast

We were able to make this film by convincing a bunch of poets, singers, rappers, comedians, and magicians to believe in our ability to take what we do every week and translate it cinematically. One of the beautiful aspects of Heartstorm is the collaboration of these local artists rising to the occasion to tell this story beyond the comfort of their respective genre(s). As Lady Basco often says, “James Brown wasn’t born with a cape on; everyone begins somewhere.” While you will recognize some household names in this film, most are just like you: up late, scratching something down, wondering if it’s good enough to share. The majority of the cast in Heartstorm were not in pursuit of an acting career prior to the start of this production—this is their truth. They live this life and embody these values on a daily basis.

Why Now?

In the spirit of the old adage "if not now, when," we knew we had to tell this story now—we couldn't wait for someone to give us permission or a studio to give us a green light. Poetry is always getting evicted, forced to find a quiet coffee shop night, a vacant warehouse space, or someone's living room to share these words screaming to be heard. If we don't tell our own stories, we are at the mercy of a mainstream culture that does not prioritize us or even see us. And this is not for lack of storytellers from marginalized communities gathering over centuries to commune through the spoken word. It has just never been as accessible as we want to make it.

Recess Mic is a weekly, immersive, in-person opera that entertains, heals, and changes people’s lives—Heartstorm takes you on that journey. In a dark room, away from your phone, the smell of popcorn in the air, this film will deliver a one-of-a kind movie-going experience. With your support we can share these stories and expand this way of living: a world of empathy through the transformative power of art.



Arianna Basco

Arianna Lady Basco’s art—from film, stage, music, poetry—is forever inspired by and bound to her tribe. Arianna co-wrote and plays the sister in THE FABULOUS FILIPINO BROTHERS, her brother Dante Basco’s directorial debut out now on HULU. She also produced and is a supporting role in feature MY FIRST HORROR FILM (2024) directed by world renowned poet turned filmmaker Shihan Van Clief. She is the lead in short film BLESS from award winning director Drea Castro. She is also the director, writer, producer, and lead of GLIMMER with Rosario Dawson. She has graced the stage on and off in her original play Heartstorms, (gasp), Bern’s Echo, Body Quakes, Tragic Ecstasy of Girlhood (received the HBO Diversity Grant), StanD and #DONT (featured on CNN Philippines). She has done countless productions with her art community she helms Palms Up Academy from shows, #RECESSmic, teaching, to holding space. Arianna is most proud of being a single mom to her kids and is currently working on a new book of poems and the sequel to THE FABULOUS FILIPINO BROTHERS. She lives by the motto "You Shine, I Shine." Arianna is very much looking forward to sharing HEARTSTORM with the world, shining the light on this diverse, dynamic, niche yet universal collective of artists.

Magdalena Valencia
Magdalena Sanchez Valencia

Magdalena Sanchez Valencia is a lover of words and sounds. Focused on transforming pain into purpose, rhythm and flow. Knowing that creation is our liberation she believes, wholeheartedly, that we can save ARTselves. Heartstorm is her feature film acting debut.

Christopher Aguilar

Christopher Aguilar is a Huntington Beach, CA native and leads a group that helps break the stigma of mental illness by presenting a play he wrote called "StanD" along with post-show discussions on mental health ( He holds an MA in Music Theatre from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London and dedicates this film to his parents for their unending support and encouragement.


Sebastian Sozzi

Sebastian Sozzi is the son of two artist/freedom fighters who immigrated to the USA from Mendoza, Argentina in the early seventies. Born in NYC in 1982, Sebastian studied to become a performer at PPAS High School, Juliard, HB studios and more. Starting his career in theatre on and off Broadway helped hone his skills as an actor, singer and songwriter. Now Working primarily in TV and film, Sebastian is known for his work on TV shows such as “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Blue Bloods,” and in movies including “Batman v Superman” and “Dashing Through the Snow.”

Aurora Basco

Aurora Blessing Basco, aka ROR, is an actress and athlete. Having grown up from the womb in her mom’s art spaces—inherently, music is how she RORs. Her album 90241 is out now on all streaming platforms. She performs weekly at Palms Up Academy.

Renee "Kooki" Chatman

Renee Buckley-Chatman, lovingly known as "Kooki,” is a published author (“My Father's Son,” World Stage Press) and a poet. Locally,  she has graced the stages of World Stage, 5th Street Dicks, The Poetry Cafe, Da Poetry Lounge, A Mic & Dim Lights, Our Mic, RecessMic, and more. Known for her sexy nod to being in love, poetry has taken her to stages in Chicago, New York, and New Orleans—from The Apache in Atlanta, Busboys and Poets in Washington DC, to the International stages of Johannesburg and Cape Town. Kooki is a member of Diverse Verses LA, a production group that has produced the Pan African Film Festival's Poetry Fest annually since 2016. Diverse Verses LA was nominated for Best Documentary in the Glendale Film Festival 2023.

Madeline Dimayuga

Madeline Dimayuga is a seasoned musician, improviser, and filmmaker with ten years of experience under her belt. As a filmmaker, she was awarded the 2017 Wonder Woman Award from the Austin Under the Stars Film Festival for her directorial debut of her short film, "Play Pretend." She has starred in independent comedy projects, notably "Night on Sixth" (2021), and several sketch and improvisational stage shows with Fallout Theatre and Coldtowne Theatre—both based in Austin, Texas. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2019, she has re-ignited her creative efforts towards songwriting and music performance under the stage name "Madima." Her band, Madima and the Switch, originated from the Palms Up Academy community and has gone on to perform at historic LA venues including Hotel Cafe, The Mint LA, and The Viper Room.

Tu Ngo

Tu Ngo started writing poetry at the age of 14 and began making music in 2010. He is The Counselor at Palms Up Academy and at 34 years old, is making his acting debut with Heartstorm. His debut album and sophomore album, Death Is Promised and The Gold Album, respectively can be found under the moniker of MaJiK MC across all platforms. He has performed on stages up and down California and is releasing his third album, King Ngo, in 2024. NFNT Studios is a multi-creative space owned by Tu Ngo/MaJiK MC and will be opening soon for all creative endeavors including music recording, film and photography shoots, dance classes and various workshops, and will be a streaming and podcast resource as well.


Austin Howell

Austin Howell is an experienced actor/comedian who has performed, written, and produced several live comedy shows of varying genres with stand-up, improv, and sketch being his specialties. He has also starred in several projects on multiple platforms, including "Two Sides" (2019-2021, Snapchat) and "Panic" (2021, Amazon Prime). Austin's newest passion outside of comedy is carpentry and scenic design—his work has been featured at numerous LA premiere events for film and television as well as large-scale private conferences throughout the United States.

Fenix Basco

Fenix Rising Basco is one of the youngest members of the Basco family and from the womb grew up in his mom’s art spaces. He is an actor, drummer, budding piano player, and lately having lot of fun on the synth.

Chelsea Sik

Chelsea Sik is a breakthrough actor, executive producer, and digital creator, known for her award winning short film Foreign Planetary and growing social media presence. Under her brand as a "Clown", Chelsea has amassed over a hundred thousand followers and multi-millions views across platforms.

Jeffrey Han

Jeffrey Han is a performer based out of Los Angeles, California. Before landing in LA, he earned his MFA in performing arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He is grateful to be a part of Heartstorm, and to have worked with its cast and crew of multi-talented artists. Notable credits include Expect-Asian, his one-person show, with Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, Scrimmage with East West Players, and a touring production of The Taming of the Shrew with The Festival Players in the United Kingdom. Jeffrey enjoys practicing martial arts, and listening to country music while stuck in LA traffic.


Shihan Van Chief
Alyesha Wise-Hernandez
Derek Brown
Ariel Jimenez
Ford Fanter
Rawn Erickson
Linda Rosa
Kirby Marquez
Jerry White Jr.
Dante Basco
Ashley Lanuza
Sun Luu
Arthur WaYu Kennedy


Darryl J. Basco
MarKing IV
Kito Fortune
Jennii Vo Le
Samantha Magat
Raelene Rizo
Justin Jut Gonzales
Tosh Tran
Miguel Igi Echave
Leo Xia
Andrew Echave
Ally Vega
Dionysio Basco
Yesika Salgado
Justyn Franco
David Ha
Angela Aguirre
Azza Clemons



Directed by
Jerry White Jr.

Produced by
Arianna Basco
Jerry White Jr.
Rawn Erickson

Executive Producers
Arianna Basco
Jerry White Jr.
Matthew J. Suhr

Cinematography by
Geoffrey Marschall

Edited by
Jerry White Jr.

Associate Producers
Geoffrey Marschall
Ashley Lanuza

Darryl J. Basco

Jerry White Jr.

Jerry White Jr. has been making films since he was a teenager, getting his start with public access television in Metro Detroit during the early 90s. He is a lifelong student of DIY guerrilla filmmaking as well as a MFA graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. As a director, actor, and producer, he has screened at over a hundred film festivals worldwide, winning numerous awards and securing international distribution for 20 Years of Madness, a film more than two decades in the making. In 2017, he founded the Vidlings & Tapeheads Film Festival to promote unconventional storytelling and bring together eclectic, unorthodox, and progressive filmmakers, musicians, and artists. Jerry is drawn to niche creative subcultures, outsider artists, and passionate amateurs. Heartstorm is his feature directorial debut.

Arianna Basco

Arianna Lady Basco is a single mom, curator of words, and believer of dreams. Author of PALMS UP, poet, and filmmaker. She is the director and lead of the short film GLIMMER with Rosario Dawson, co-wrote and co-starred in THE FABULOUS FILIPINO BROTHERS out now on HULU, producer and actress of the upcoming MY FIRST HORROR FILM directed by Shihan Van Clief, and currently in post-production for HEARTSTORM as a co-producer, co-writer, and lead inspired by the work she does at her arts organization PALMS UP ACADEMY. Playwright of (gasp), HEARTSTORMS, and BERN’S ECHO. Arianna and her family have been recognized by the State of California, City of Artesia and Cerritos, and named “The First Filipino Entertainment Family” by the City of Los Angeles for their contribution to the arts. She has been spotted at the intersection strumming the six string and singing a tune or two.

Ronald Erickson II

Ronald Erickson II is the Co-Founder of Maker Studios, an MCN that pioneered digital marketing before its exit to The Walt Disney Company in 2014. In 2017 he co-founded The|Machine, a Verified Member Network of talent, talent representatives, and ad agencies in the influencer marketing, and branded content ecosystem. As a producer he is focused on borderless media with an eye toward international stories that expose universal truths through underexposed cultures and sub-cultures. His latest production The Fabulous Filipino Brothers can be seen on Hulu now.