Steven Espinosa, director

find us on facebook


Feature screenplay available upon request.


Adrianne Richards
Morrison Keddie
John Grady

Steven Espinosa / writer, director
Avi Quijada / producer
Daniel V. Lynn / director of photography
Hannah Beavers / editor
Steven Espinosa & Mary Ablaza / choreography


"The Black Dahlia Ballet delivers a chilling, atmospheric piece of dance cinema infused with pulse-pounding suspense... a deep, dark poignant work of art." 
-Newport Beach Independent

Click for full review...


In 1994, after a successful 15 year career as a dancer in Los Angeles, I wrote my first play called The Black Dahlia which was produced in New York. It was based on a little known story about a real life detective who spent his entire career searching for the killer of a young woman in Hollywood, 1947 but who never solved the case.

Her name was Elizabeth Short. She was 22 years old when her horribly mutilated body was found cut in half at the waist in a vacant lot near downtown LA. The press had a field day with the story and nicknamed her "The Black Dahlia" due to her penchant for dressing up in all black with a white flower pinned in her hair. Over sixty years later, the case remains one of the most beguiling unsolved murder mysteries in the history of Hollywood.

Cut to: 2003. When ten years later, I discover an award winning jazz album by composer Bob Belden titled "Black Dahlia." It was a haunting impressionistic portrait of Los Angeles in the 1940's and told the story of Elizabeth Short in dark symphonic imagery. The music fascinated me and I thought to myself "this would make a great ballet."

Cut to: 2012. Another ten years passed, when I finally decided to re-conceive my play as The Black Dahlia Ballet. I wrote the script and started rehearsals with my co-choreographer, Mary Ablaza. As we staged one of the numbers, it occurred to me that we should film it. We cast our lead actress/dancer, Adrianne Richards whose husband, Daniel Lynn was a cinematographer. He enlisted the help of producer, Avi Quijada. Suddenly, we had a creative team collaborating on a short film version of the play.

Cut to: 2013. We shot it over two days in Venice, CA. I had never made a film before and it was one of the most exhilarating and excruciating experiences of my life. Post production followed and our editor, Hannah Beavers delivered a fantastic first cut. I started submitting it to the festival circuit and at the Women's Independent Film Festival we won awards for Best Music Video, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Editing. Followed by acceptance into the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema and the Dam Short Film Festival.

Cut to: 2014. It's been 20 years since I first wrote the play. It's been a wild and crazy ride. And now, I have a pretty cool little dance film noir. And yet, all I can think about is... "How the hell do I get the feature film version made?"

Written, January 7, 2014
By Steven Espinosa