Donnie tries to poison his wife with an aphrodisiac.


Role: Writer / Director

A Chapman University Thesis Film, Donnie’s Tree was a Finalist at the Kansas City FilmFest and Fort Lauderdale.


An elderly couple argue over a territory in their garden. When Donald’s overbearing wife orders him to replace his favorite shrub with a kumquat tree he takes matters into his own hands…with surprising results.

Production Notes

Through the generosity of the Panavision® New Filmmaker program and Kodak’s In-Kind donation, Donnie’s Tree was shot over seven days in the deserts near Victorville, California. Exposing 20,000 feet of 35mm film, special thanks go out to Lorette Bayle of Kodak and Rick Halpern of Panavision.

23 minutes, Color, 35mm
kodak-logo new_filmmaker_logo

A man of song and high spirits, Ian returned to acting after much absence. Bringing a lot of cheer and dedication to the set, he leaves us with his final performance as Donnie in Donnie’s Tree, a part that seems as though it was written especially for him. When asked about his other creative outlets, he said he was looking to write some one act plays: “black comedy, none of that Disneyland stuff.”

Angela was a Theater Arts major at Los Angeles City College and UCLA, but after living in Mexico and Nicaragua she became a Spanish-English translator. Now back to acting, she was seen earlier this year as La Strega in The Rose Tattoo at the Long Beach Playhouse. Donnie’s Tree is her most recent film, following a number of student films at Art Center, USC, Chapman University, Cal State Long Beach, and The Los Angeles Film School. She is a member of The Actors Network, Women in Film and the Film Industry Network.

CAROL SOLDO (Gretchen)
A veteran of some 20 Graduate, Short and Independent Films, Carol just completed a dance duet as a Senior Couple in a music video. She has recently performed in a benefit production of Vagina Monologues in Ventura and loved doing Madame Pernelle in Tartuffe with the Pasadena Shakespeare Company. Carol studies at the Beverly Hills Playhouse with Gary Imhoff.


Donnie Ian Sarsen Druid
Carmen Angela McEwan
Gretchen Carol Soldo
Driver Jude Gerard Prest
Waitress Amberly Chamberlain
Teen Girl April Wade
Teen Boy Ryan Gimbel
Son Jason Harrington



Writer, Director Insung Hwang
First Assistant Director Cecile Cinco
Second Assistant Director Richard Folwarski
Script Supervisor Chase Gordon
Casting Director Lissa Lawrence
Director of Photography John Ames
Camera Operator David Ortkiese
First Assistant Camera Hannes Hacker
Second Assistant Camera Jajaira Corria
Production Designer Jaime Dyer
Set Dresser Chris Nelson
Costume Designer Laura Greenlund
Key Makeup & Hair Andrea Wolfe
Music Composer Henry Lim
Singer Teresa A. Pitts
Post Sound Designer Justin Pearson
Production Sound Mixer Darren George
Gaffer Jesse Crusing
Key Grip Charlie Smith
Dolly Grip Takemi Watanabe
Grip, Pyrotechnician Quang Le
Craft Services Joseph Campanale
Production Assistant Simon Chang
Preproduction Assistance Sam Parshall
Editor, Producer Insung Hwang


Thank You

Inspired by “The Plan” by Daniel Fogg
Chapman University Patrcia K. Meyer
Julie MacLusky
Paul Wolansky
House, Interior, Los Angeles Martin & Andrea Walsh
House, Exterior, Victorville John Stepanian & Family
Library, Interior, City of Orange Jan Richer & Sally Trejo
Library, Exterior, City of Victorville Yvonne Woytovich


Special Thanks

Rick Halpern & Panavision®
Lorette Bayle & Eastman Kodak Company®
Lois Scott & Tiffen® Filters
Kino Flo®


Donnie’s Tree, student work at Big Bear City Fest
August 19, 2005

California’s Big Bear City Film Festival Showcases Papa G Studio’s Donnie’s TreeIt’s good to know there are professional films coming from student filmmakers. Writer/director, and producer Insung Hwang, has brilliantly created Donnie’s Tree, a short film about an elderly man’s desire to come to terms with his wife by means of a kumquat tree. As a graduate student at Chapman University in Orange County, California, Insung created his characters, plot, and locations all in a 7 day shooting schedule for this 22 minute film.Cinematographer, John Ames, (Ghost Stories, The Appointment) provides a picturesque, rich colored landscape of the California desert-scape. His technique and Insung’s choice of 35mm film, the way a true production is meant to be, compliments this festival favorite. The point of depicting the elderly as main characters brings to mind Ron Howard’s Cocoon (1985). As in this Jessica Tandy comedic-drama, Insung brings to life an emotional husband and wife, to the tune of a young couple. At first the audience sees Donnie (Ian Sarsen Druid) as his wife’s puppet, being told when to cook dinner, how to act, and even to what to do with his beloved tree. When his wife, Carmen (Angela McEwan) replaces his tree with her new kumquat tree, he is furious, but still lives under her command.When Donnie discovers the tree has traits beyond fruit production he only then believes to be free. Donnie’s Tree is alone worth watching until the end for Donnie’s depicted desire to be back with his “witch” of a wife. The poison turned aphrodisiac of a tree keeps the audience attentive towards the outcome of Carmen’s destiny.It’s great to know a male filmmaker can produce such inclinations towards a red dress, a hope for improved romance, and a couple’s love-making all within elderly characters. After all, at one time or another, we all wonder whether our grandparents sleep in the same bed.You can look forward to watching Donnie’s Tree at The Big Bear Film Festival (California) in September. As a finalist at the Kansas City Film Festival the film also counts Syracuse International Film & Video Festival, IFP Cinema Lounge, and numerous others towards its welcomed audience-accepted screenings.

By Michelle Paster 

Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee – Finalist
Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival – Finalist, Kodak Student Competition
Sedona International Film Festival
Syracuse International Film & Video Festival
Frontier Airline’s Cloud 9 Film Festival – Nominee
Women in Film – Independent Film Series
Independent Film Project (IFP) – Cinema Lounge – at Cine-Space in Hollywood
Boardner’s of Hollywood – Director’s Showcase
Ovation TV
Los Angeles Korean International Film Festival – American Cinematheque, Hollywood
Big Bear Lake International Film Festival
Valley Film Festival
Actorsite – North Hollywood
Chapman University
Santa Clarita Independent Film Festival
The Knitting Factory – Hollywood – World Premiere