Film celebrating female resilience and friendship, set in wilds of Sonoma County, overcomes obstacles

10 May 2021

Nicolette Ellis (left) and Chloe Moore in a still from “What Lies West.” The film, set and shot in Sonoma County, premieres on Video on Demand Tuesday, May 11.

Santa Rosa native Jessica Ellis set out to make a film that centered on the theme of capacity — the ability to adapt and thrive under pressure and uncertainty.

She didn’t know her own capacity would be tested during production, when devastating wildfires blazed through some of the film’s exterior locations in Sonoma County, and again after a routine test revealed a congenital heart defect that required immediate open-heart surgery.

The latter pushed filming on “What Lies West” back six months, even as Ellis continued to crowdfund from her ICU bed. She laughs about it now.

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