Statewide Documentary Spotlights Small Businesses

Madison RutherfordJune 29, 2020
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While the coronavirus outbreak created a cloud of doom and gloom around life as we know it, a local production company saw a silver lining – a sense of strength and solidarity in the small business community.

Amoroma Productions, a video business based in Chandler, saw an opportunity to share the perseverance of the state’s small businesses and how they’ve adapted amid the pandemic. The company began reaching out to community leaders and companies in Arizona who were willing to share their struggles and successes.

“We started seeing all the businesses out there showing such great resiliency and taking quick action to pivot their businesses,” Amoroma co-owner Kellie Mendoza says.

As a small business owner herself, Mendoza was looking for her own creative ways to pivot during a time when production was at a standstill. It started with providing services to support the community, offering professional video packages for companies that wanted to convey to their clients that they’re reopening or still catering to customers with new safety precautions.

“From there stemmed the idea to incorporate interviews with these businesses and to create a documentary out of that,” Mendoza says.

Dubbed The Silver Linings Project, the documentary captures the poignant perspectives of a diverse group of small business owners navigating a new normal. Mendoza and her business partner and husband, Daniel, started filming the interviews in early June. They are currently accepting subsequent submissions from small businesses until July 17. Companies can submit a short video or written description of how they have been impacted by COVID-19 and what they’ve been doing to meet those challenges at 

So far, participating businesses include M Culinary Concepts, True North Barbershop, Visit Phoenix, Barrio Café, Landings Credit Union and Bentley Gallery. They also interviewed Kimber Lanning, the executive director of Local First Arizona, an organization that aims to empower and elevate the small business community throughout the state.

“It was very insightful talking about small businesses and what it’s like to be one in the state of Arizona,” Mendoza says of her interview with Lanning. “We’re really doing our best to continue the diversity of various businesses and to select varying industries, as well.”

Craig Randich is the director of Bentley Gallery, a contemporary art gallery in Phoenix’s warehouse district. Randich says he was “ecstatic” when Amoroma reached out to interview him for the film.

“One of the really great questions they had asked was ‘What do you consider essential?’” he says. “Of course, I think art is essential to every aspect of our life.”

Like many museums and galleries, Bentley pivoted to online programming amid the pandemic. Randich says he and his team have been producing videos of their own, visiting Valley art studios, talking to artists about their processes and posting their conversations on YouTube.

“We are doing a lot more media than we have in the past because this way, people can watch it from the comfort of their home,” he explains.

Mendoza believes a good documentary should do two things: provide information and produce a call to action. The Silver Linings Project does both – giving a voice to small business owners and inspiring audiences to support them.

“Out of all the negativity and hardships going on right now, it’s about finding the silver lining, staying positive, shifting your mindset and figuring it out,” she says.

Randich also hopes viewers will be motivated by the film’s positive message.

“I hope the takeaway will be the resilience that Phoenix businesses have and how we do come together and support one another… even though we’re all struggling,” he says. “We’re all kind of trying to help each other get through this so that our doors continue to be open.”

What started as a small idea about supporting small businesses has grown into a massive statement of resiliency and rising up.

“It’s all about the silver linings and it’s definitely all about the community and giving back,” Mendoza says.