Into The Storm

A Documentary Film

The Story

At some point in almost everyone’s life, there comes a challenge so overwhelming, so painful, that it forces a course of action – to run and hide, or to turn and head bravely Into the Storm. For filmmaker Sandra Salas, that defining challenge occurred in the midst of her own family on the day her Father took a gun and killed her Mother and then turned the gun on himself. Into the Storm is the heart-wrenching, inspiring journey of Sandra’s life as she confronts the complexities of the domestic violence that shattered her family and contemplates starting a family of her own.

Into the Storm is a story about legacy – about the legacy caused by cycles of domestic violence, and the desire to create a new family legacy of one’s own, one that reverses violence and builds on hope and forgiveness. It’s the autobiographical tale of filmmaker Sandra Salas, the youngest of the five Salas siblings born to Irma and Rudy Salas Jr. It’s the story of a deeply loving family who battled against the dark despair of violent abuse, and the toll that violence took on their lives long after the day that Rudy Salas Jr. killed his wife and then killed himself. The story follows Sandra as she contemplates beginning a family of her own while coming to terms with her family’s painful history. Sandra begins to search for answers, while learning that the only way to truly change is for her to journey into the storm headfirst and confront the fear that she may never be free from the dark secrets of her past.

The film unfolds as a rich family journal – a visual diary of a loving, but troubled, past, deftly edited and woven with a contemporary account of Sandra’s life, her struggles, and her hopes as she begins a new chapter of her life as a newlywed and starts to plan for a future she never dreamed was possible but is still afraid she may lose because of her broken past. Into the Storm draws on raw, moving interviews with Sandra’s siblings, her extended family, and close family friends – as well as home movies and family photos – to bring Rudy and Irma to life again, to trace the family fault lines that ended in tragedy. Sandra also plays an important part on screen, helping to re-tell the story, and also helping to move the story forward. The film’s journal-like narrative is also anchored with poetic voice-over that serves as a snapshot of the racing thoughts and fears occupying Sandra’s mind – as she navigates the treacherous path of uncovering her family’s secrets so she can have a future free from the past.

Be the buffalo.

Sandra first heard this famous Cherokee life lesson from her oldest brother just a year before their mother’s murder. On a bicycle trip from Portland, Oregon to Washington, D.C., he told her to pay attention to the buffalo she would encounter along the route. 

“When there’s a storm, cows and other animals run away from it,” he said. “But, the buffalo charges directly toward the storm and gets through it quicker.”  

Little did Sandra know that only one year later this life lesson would be so tragically significant to her life. After her mom was murdered, Sandra was overcome by grief and used dubious ways to deal with the pain, thinking she could outrun it. When Sandra finally hit rock bottom, she realized the importance of her family’s vow. She wants to help fulfill that vow and because of her nephew Lorenzo, she has to do it now.She also wants to create a new legacy for her mother, one that truly represents her mother’s life. Her mother wasn’t just a victim despite being victimized—she was more than that. 

Sandra has to “be the buffalo” to fulfill these goals. She has to charge directly towards the family’s disease, in search of answers to the difficult question, “How do you end domestic violence?”


The Team

Sandra Salas - Director, Writer, Producer

An award-winning writer, Sandra co-wrote, produced and directed the documentary series TV pilot, Inside Cinema, which features film composer Aaron Zigman, (“The Notebook”), and journeys through his early training, personal experience, and creative collaboration with Nick Cassavetes, and Peter Max, among others. She has written, produced and directed promos and fundraising videos, and has also written shorts and features. Salas has also worked behind the scenes on commercials, promos, films, television shows and print ads. She lived and worked in Singapore teaching screenwriting and script consulting for the Singapore Film Commission and in 2001 received her MFA in Screenwriting at the American Film Institute (AFI), earning many honors and accolades for her work. She currently teaches screenwriting workshops and courses.


Dwjuan F. Fox - Producer


Dwjuan has been immersed in the arts his entire life. He attended Interlochen Arts Academy for high school, where he majored in painting, ceramics and wood cut. In college at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Dwjuan traded storytelling in a single frame for multiple frames in film. He has worked his way up from a production assistant to having over eighteen feature credits as a Producer. His most current Producer credits include the 2017 Sundance Midnight Series premier of XX, and 2014 premier of Virtually Heroes. Dwjuan’s credits also include: Holidays (2016), About Scout (2015), Ask Me Anything (2014) Line Producer on James Toback and Alex Baldwin’s documentary, Seduced and Abandon (2013) and documentary feature, The Rescuers which was nominated for a 2012 Image Award. Dwjuan obtained his master’s degree in producing from the prestigious American Film Institute. He has been the recipient of the Multicultural Motion Picture Association, Bank of America and Producers Guild of America’s Diversity Awards. Dwjuan is also a former US Military Army Officer and former line producing instructor at UCLA Extension.


Don Thompson :: Executive Producer

Don Thompson (executive producer) - Don has over 15 years of production experience, having produced, co-produced and/or co-funded over 16 feature films, many of which have received international recognition and acclaim. 

Projects have included his debut film Clouds, the Sundance award-winning documentary Tibet in Song and Hal Hartley's Ned Rifle, starring Aubrey Plaza.

See for more info on Don.


David Waldman  ::  Director of Photography

David's work in HD earned him the International Cinematographers Guild 2005 & 2006 Emerging Cinematographer Award for the films, Embryo and June and Orlando. Embryo also earned him a Best Cinematography award at the 2005 HDFest. David worked with Director John Landis on the Emmy Award winning, Mr. Warmth:

The Don Rickles Project and shot Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Goldberg! for Peabody Award-winning Director Aviva Kempner. He shot the feature film, Beach Kings for MGM and was the DP on the Starz Network series, Head Case. He has also shot numerous commercials and music videos throughout the US and Japan. David received his MFA in Cinematography from the American Film Institute in 2001. 


Gloria Moran :: Editor

Gloria Morán is an award winning filmmaker and writer based out of Los Angeles, California, working on producing, directing and editing digital content. Gloria first short documentary about gentrification in the Mission District of San Francisco and one San Francisco native’s interpretation of this change titled Homes for the Homies (2010), and was reviewed as SF Weekly’s “Best Pick” for The Mission Cultural Center Videofest 2010. She is also director and producer of The Unique Ladies (2013) a short documentary that follows an all women’s lowrider car club in San Diego. A first of it’s kind documentary that has screened nationwide in film festivals and garnered the “Best Local Film” award from the San Diego Latino Film Festival. 

Gloria’s credits include the WGBH and WORLD Channel broadcast of her short documentary Every Girl Matters (2015), a short documentary that takes a personal look at the success of young women in single sex education. Funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP). 

Gloria completed two shorts for PBS’s American Experience, creating biographical documentaries, The Voter (2014) andThe Activist (2014), following two prominent workers during the 1964 freedom movement, a project in conjunction with the release of Stanley Nelson’s Freedom Summer (2014). 

Gloria has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin American and Latino Studies with a minor in Journalism and a Master of Arts degree in Social Documentation, both from the University of California at Santa Cruz.


Tina Banchero :: Associate Producer

Tina Banchero is a feminist producer, choreographer and activist. She began her activism for women’s rights and health care while working for Planned Parenthood of Western New York. Tina toured and performed with the feminist based dance company the Dance Brigade for 15 years and co-founded and directed their award winning junior company the Grrrl Brigade. Tina has produced, directed and choreographed for the One Billion Rising events SF/Oakland/Los Angeles, the opening ceremonies for the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival and the Light in the Grove Benefit for the National AIDS Memorial. Other choreography credits include; Trolley Dances SF, the Porazone Music project, Scalpel the Musical, Malfa Music Videos and Devious Inc. Movies. Tina most recently produced a month-long series of events in conjunction with the city of West Hollywood for women's history month called Women Manifest. These sold out events celebrated the artistic achievements of women artists in Los Angeles. Tina is committed to co-creating a world where education regarding domestic violence and access to resources for everyone affected by domestic violence, is available to all.  


Joie Estrella Horwitz :: Social Media and Engagement Producer

Joie Estrella Horwitz is a southwestern artist with a diverse background in film and fine art. With a strong feminist lens, she has worked on several activist projects. Currently, she is the social media and engagement producer for Recovering Irma. Other feminist works include her first film, Under The Mesquite, which explores issues of domestic violence, as well as founding PLATFORM, a film screening for emerging female filmmakers. Joie is a core member of Women Manifest, an organization working to create events that include a diverse group of women and their perspectives during Women's History Month. She has also worked as a curator and coordinator for Sorry Archive (NYC) and The Brooklyn Rail magazine

Website imagery by: Roberto Salas "Dia de los Muertos Altar/Art Installation", Escondido, California