Monroe cinematographer to screen latest film at Miamisburg’s Plaza Theatre



Los Angeles-based cinematographer Jake L. Mitchell, a Monroe native, is excited to have his latest film, “Riddle of Fire,” screen locally May 12 at the Plaza Theatre in Miamisburg.

Directed by Weston Razooli, “Riddle of Fire” chronicles three mischievous kids from Ribbon, Montana on a spirited woodland quest.



A graduate of the Emerson College film program, Mitchell’s first feature documentary was “8 Billion Angels,” which is available for streaming. He’s also worked on music videos and commercials. “Riddle of Fire” is his first narrative feature film.

“I loved the adventure aspect of the script,” said Mitchell, 26. “It has a really nice blend of being commercial acceptably but also kind of artsy and quirky. If you’re a cinefile, or a film buff, there are a lot of niche references and quirks you’ll enjoy. A lot of the references in the film are also from international cinema of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The script is a combination of flavors that is both artsy while still maintaining a sense of entertainment.”

He also found the script’s complexities, particularly in its character development, as an added bonus.

“There are villains in the film, and it’s really easy to make villains the evil bad guys for no reason, but this film allows you to see their motivations,” Mitchell explained. “All of the characters are complex, which I love. I don’t necessarily have control over that as a cinematographer, but it’s great when something I capture is also something I feel is really worthwhile.”



Shot in 2021 over the course of 20 days in Utah on 16 mm film rather than digital, “Riddle of Fire” notably premiered at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. Mitchell viewed the shooting schedule as a “marathon” and said receiving an invitation to Cannes provided validation for the cast and crew.

“There were multiple locations which made filming a major physical challenge,” he said. “Getting into Cannes was a major pay off. We were hoping to get into a festival but Cannes was more than we could have ever hoped for. It was so cool to be there.”

Filmmaker and screenwriter Johnny Catalano, a Plaza Theatre manager, spearheads Sunday’s screening. He oversees the Plaza’s “Century of Cinema” series and presented his second annual Catalano Film Festival in March. He regards “Riddle of Fire,” which draws comparisons to such ‘70s films as “Escape to Witch Mountain” and “The Apple Dumpling Gang,” as another example of broadening the Plaza audience.

“I always try to bring diverse programming to the Plaza whether a retrospective or a small independent film,” Catalano said. “It’s always nice to see a new audience discover the Plaza Theatre.”

Catalano will lead a post-screening Q&A featuring Mitchell. He’s proud to showcase another emerging artist from this region.

“Talent is not exclusive to the East or West Coast,” Catalano said. “We have wonderful talent from this region who are really making a name themselves in the industry. Jake is a very promising cinematographer. I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear his name one day at the Academy Awards. He’s a wonderful talent and we should all be proud of his accomplishments thus far.”

How to go

What: “Riddle of Fire”

Where: Plaza Theatre, 33 S. Main St., Miamisburg

When: 5:30 p.m. Sunday, May 12

Cost: $10

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