The Real Thing

A film by Brandon Kelley

When a soldier returns home, things have often changed. For Staff Sergeant Michael Waltze, the ultimate change is in his child. While on his tour of duty, his daughter has transitioned and started living her truth. Today he is coming home to surprise her.

For a young trans teen, life is full of obstacles and challenges. The people are curious and don't understand what she's been through. Her parents' attitudes are still adjusting, and sometimes home doesn't feel like home. For Allie, a rough day at school ends with a surprise. Her father is home from the army, and he's standing in her room. 

Parental love is unconditional. It transcends a person's memory of their child. The Real Thing is an infinitely stronger bond. 


Written & Directed by Brandon Kelley
Produced by Jon Gestal
Cinematography by Greta Zozula
Edited by Taylor Levy

Executive Produced by Christie Gestal, Bill & Lori Kelly, Jamie Law, Barbara & Michael Racanelli
Starring Michael Torpey, Sophie Giannamore


Director's Note

We made this film in 2017 with the help of an amazing cast and crew.  We were honored to work with Sophia Grace Giannamore and Michael Torpey in order to bring Allie and Michael to life.

Our crew of 35 shot the film in 3 days and, to date, the film has screened in 25 festivals and won 5 awards. The film was shot on 4-Perf 35mm Celluloid Kodak Stock with the help of the Kodak Filmmatching Initiative and the Independent Filmmakers Project Fiscal Sponsorship.


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.