Dial Back

A film by Anthony Deptula

A bittersweet love story where two long-lost classmates from grade school reconnect on a lonely New Years Eve - because people don't remember phone numbers anymore.


Written & Directed by Anthony Deptula
Produced by Dean Cates, Dave Smith
Associate Produced by Deborah Streit & David Streit

Cinematography by Mark Evans
Edited by Jeff Sharpe
Starring Jeff Sloniker, Tina Kapousis


Director's Note

I tend to think about media through the lens of what I think future entertainment might be; maybe because I like to tell stories about payphones. Before I started writing this, I looked up who was the first human to utter the words, "theatre is dead," equating it to "indie film is dead," in my mind.  Nothing immediately popped up. I dove into the two of the oddest search results. The two articles chronicled the first person who recorded their name and how many people Jesus raised from the dead. Three is the simple answer for Jesus. Thought it was more. The first person to write their name down was a fucking accountant - probably named Kushim. In the same article, it talked about how Nedarthelas used to make handprints on cave walls. The world's first artist, "Hey, look at me! I have a hand. Cool?" In this day in age, humans are so advanced that we want to leave handprints for every moment of our lives. My longwinded point is that we have so many platforms and so many creators that I think indie filmmaking and having folks watch short films seems daunting.  A short is a blip. My blip. Your blip in a sea of digital ones and zeroes.

Every generation judges the new generation - for being vain, for having less integrity, the films in the seventies are the best. Kids now think Friends is a master class in entertainment. Let's judge these first humans that were trying to leave their mark. I guess humans have had this feeling that they need to leave something behind since existing, even in a simple form. Artists have this trait more than other humans in my opinion. Being in company with these first humans ain't bad. I wonder if they lacked the confidence I do at times. Did they stare at the handprint on the cave wall and say, "hmmm, do you think they'll like it?" These neanderthals had no time to ponder about arthouse cinema and if people even like seeing movies in the theater anymore. Or the economics of what their handprint will gross. I've made a couple of handprints in my life so far. I was thankful to screen Dial Back at last year's Austin Film Festival with fellow blipmakers wanting to leave something behind. 

On average my projects take four years to complete from conception to me finally pulling the trigger between fulltime jobs to make them. I wish it were quicker for me. I am trying to move faster, but recently I think I gave myself the freedom to make what I want to make, take my time. I wrote over 20 drafts of dial back. The first version was an action comedy thriller. I even wrote some weird serial killer draft. I was listening to the voices of what I think future success might look like and anticipating what the market wanted. I sat on it for a couple of years and then did a full rewrite to what is on screen now. I like it.  I am not going to talk you through the process of making Dial Back. I am trying to cut down the amount of time from this short to my next project. 


Mike Ambs

PO BOX 3464, Running Springs, CA 92382

I love to film things, tell stories, and read on the subway. I'm pretty sure blue whales are my power animal.