About

Writer/­Director's Statement

Countless emails, commercials, and one-on-one conversations in recent memory have begun with those four indelible words: “In these uncertain times.” It seems uncertainty is the only thing that remains certain. With Case Unsolved, I want to explore uncertainty itself: what causes it, how we cope with it, and the lengths we traverse to slay its attendant demons. 

We often cope with uncertainty by indulging in nostalgia. It may seem harmless to resurrect old memories, pop cultural artifacts, and even friendships from the past, but I believe that nostalgia can be just as deadly to one’s spirit as the anxieties that stem from contemplating the unknown.

Many horror fans like myself have fond memories of the chills and thrills of 1990s docu-series like Unsolved Mysteries and Beyond Belief. With fervent glee, we recall those shows’ iconic hosts, theme music, and eerie-yet-cheesy aesthetic choices. Case Unsolved turns the popcorn-munching mysteries that defined those shows into urgent life-or-death matters for our heroes Riz and Owen. In doing so, I hope to explore the uneasy intersection between nostalgia and uncertainty, and how in many ways, they are two different heads of the same vicious monster.  

Riz and Owen, the central couple of the story, are queer people of color striving to live and love to their fullest potential. Their marginalized identities make them particularly susceptible to the sinister consequences of a shaky future, yet the key hardships they endure during the story of Case Unsolved are not inherently tied to their unique identities. I aim to spin a universally scary story about people who, despite every reason to fear an uncertain future, brave the unknown because they have little other choice. I believe such stories of coping and persevering are worth our careful attention…especially in these uncertain times.

C.J. Arellano

The Team

C.J. Arellano

Writer/Director

C.J. is an award-winning writer/director. The International Screenwriting Association named him one of the Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2019. He won grand prizes in the New York Screenplay Contest and Columbia College Chicago’s Written Image contest. As a video director, C.J. has directed TV spots, as well as branded content enjoyed by millions. His directing work was an Official Selection at the New York Television Film Festival in July 2018, and has been featured at festivals such as Out Webfest and ITVF. His videos have been spotlighted on the front page of Funny or Die. He has also directed video for big brands such as The Second City, Chef Boyardee, and McDonald’s. You can view more of C.J.’s work at CJArellano.com.

Becca Stahl

Producer

Becca is the co-founder of The Nova Collective, a company that creates content to build equity and representation in corporate spaces. She’s worked on national advertising campaigns, built out new product suites, and led cross-functional teams designing new business lines. She uses her producing skills to work with diverse creators and tell stories that matter. She produced the short horror film “TwiceBorn” (2015), which was screened at the Festival du Film Merveilleux & Imaginaire, the FilmQuest Festival in Utah, and the Cannes Film Festival’s Court Metrage.

Taylor Witten

Producer

​Taylor is a 21st century griot. She’s a storyteller, filmmaker and award-winning producer whose content examines Otherness, identity, and representation within contemporary audio-visual culture. Taylor is the founder of Blessed Press Production, a production company which aims to bring to life stories of faith. She has experience working on both small- and large-scale productions, including commercial work, digital content, TV and film. Her production credits include The Adventures of Jacketman, Fernando’s Fusion, and organizing Wakandacon, an Afro-futuristic fan convention. She has also produced content for some of your favorite brands: Walgreens, Microsoft, Motorola, Uber, YMCA, The Second City, and McDonald’s. Both personally and professionally, Taylor is committed to being a change agent who advocates for opportunities of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  

Mark Burns

Producer

Mark is the founder and executive producer of Punch-Up, a creative services company focused on telling stories with soul and purpose. Previously he worked in production, creative, and operations roles at The Second City and The Onion. He has produced video content for brands such as Playstation, Motorola, Clorox and Orbitz.

Want to know more about Case Unsolved?

Contact us