Research and Development

Director Richard Levien wrote the first draft of "Immersion" in September 2006. After rounds of consultation with professional script consultants Lisa Rosenberg and Christopher Upham, he spent several months collecting the personal stories of new immigrants in California to deepen the back-story. Levien was interested in their school experiences, their first friendships, and the details of how they got to the US.

The Spanish Speaking Unity Council, based in Fruitvale, Oakland, connected Levien with mothers in their Family Literacy Program, and with 10-year old boys in an after-school soccer program. He was constantly struck by the bravery of people who had left everything behind to succeed in their adopted country, but also by the fragility of their children, who face new opportunities and new dangers.

Levien has tapped into the classroom experience of his wife Zareen Levien, a schoolteacher who is fluent in Spanish and has taught in the Fruitvale area. She will be helping produce the film. Levien observed a bilingual 5th grade class to watch the interactions between children and between the teacher and the children.

The revised script underwent a final reading with veteran San Francisco filmmaker William Farley, which eliminated unnecessary scenes and cut it down to 12 minutes. It is now ready for production.