Are you Afraid of the ’90s?

Samantha Mathewson

Michele Ann Suttile, a 2006 University of New Haven graduate, is now a working actress currently producing her first independent film, Are You Afraid of The ‘90s?


Photo of scene from Are You Afraid of The '90s?, featuring Heather Matarazzo as Jess holding a Gameboy. Photo by Director of Photography Jake Horgan
Photo of scene from Are You Afraid of The ’90s?, featuring Heather Matarazzo as Jess holding a Gameboy. Photo by Director of Photography Jake Horgan

Are You Afraid of The ‘90s? is a short indie comedy about one girl’s quarter-life crisis and how her obsession with the 90s becomes a living nightmare. The film stars Heather Matarazzo from The Princess Diaries and Welcome To The Dollhouse, Kristine Sutherland from Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, Darren Lipari from Julia and Amber Dreams, Chelsea Marino from The Retreat and The Unknown, and Steve Stapinski from Sporting Dog and The Maiden Heist.

“We have shot half of the film and are fundraising so we can finish the second half, which will include more known ‘90s actors,” said Suttile. “It is a film for our generation; we want twenty-something’s to know they are not alone in dealing with what is being called a ‘quarter-life crisis,’ a painfully relevant phenomenon for the now adult children of the 1990s.”

In Are You Afraid of The ‘90s?, 26-year-old Jessica Russo (Matarazzo) finds herself living back at home with her parents after getting fired from her job, due to a careless and stupid mistake. Her mom had saved dozens of boxes filled with her childhood things, and as she struggles to pull herself out of her quarter-life crisis, she starts to notice her childhood toys appearing in the strangest of places, as if they have a life of their own. Strange turns to stranger until it becomes all too clear: the 90s are out to get her.

When Jessica’s mother Jane (Sutherland) begins rummaging through her childhood toys, Jessica gets sentimental about her childhood; however the toys actually end up haunting her rather than being an escape from her jobless reality. A short “teaser” of their film was shot in December and is now available to the general public on the Afraidofthe90s Youtube page at

They were able to fund the first half of filming with their Indiegogo campaign last year; however, in order to raise money to continue filming the second half, Are You Afraid of The ‘90s? producer/writer/director Kate Moran organized the Kickstarter campaign.

Suttile explained Kickstarter is a great crowd-funding platform for creative projects. “We have seen many films and projects find success through this avenue. It is a great way to host a crowdfunding effort and get exposure to so many donors who would otherwise not know about our project.”

The campaign has since ended with success, exceeding their goal of $5,000 with $5,518 raised. “So far we have raised just over $10,000 with thanks to our generous supporters; however, we will still need at least $1,000 to $2,000 more for post-production costs,” said Suttile. Filming of the second half is planned and about to start.

Are You Afraid of The ‘90s? is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization, and contributions through Fractured Atlas are tax-deductible and can be made through the Fractured Atlas website (Donors can go to and search for Are You Afraid of The 90s? to locate our page and donate). “Donations of any size would be greatly appreciated and will go a long way towards bringing our film to life,” said Suttile.

In addition, in order to raise money for filming Are You Afraid of The ‘90s?, the film’s production team held a 90s themed Halloween fundraising party. “[At the party] We were able to spread the word about our film, gain publicity as well as new supports and raised a few hundred dollars,” said Suttile. “We are in the process of planning some more exciting events in the coming months.”

“Once our film is completed, we will be submitting it to all the major and local film festivals, as well as reaching out to production companies,” said Suttile. “It will tour the festival circuit this fall and early next year and hopefully be available to the public later in 2015.”

“This film’s goal is to give our generation something to connect to, and to help us all feel not so alone. It’s for everyone who has ever loved their childhood and struggled to grow up,” said Suttile.

Aside from generous donations, Suttile explained there are many other ways they need help. You can get involved by helping to spread the word, and stay connected with them online through their website, follow them on Twitter: @afraidofthe90s, and Like them on Facebook: Are You Afraid of The 90s?

The movie has been filmed, and will continue to be filmed, in Nesconset, Long Island. To explain the reasoning behind the theme of the film, Suttile explained that, “Our writer/director Kate Moran is a 90s child herself and noticed how rapidly the trend of reliving ‘90s nostalgia was growing in the media and the Internet.”

As far as promotions go for Are You Afraid of The ‘90s?, Suttile explained they have secured product placement deals with Ring Pops, Push Pops, Mondo, and Bagel Bites as well as obtained clearances with Hasbro (Furby, Nerf, Skip-It) and Bandai (Tamagotchi).

At UNH, Suttile majored in criminal justice, investigative services with a minor in sociology. “My passion has always been for acting, but my parents wanted me to get a well-rounded education as a ground work for learning,” said Suttile.

When asked how her UNH education helped her get to where she is today, Suttile said, “My college experience really taught me the value of hard work, and of the importance of prioritizing and organizing my time. So many times we are confronted with opportunities (and obstacles!) that require effort, focus, and time management skills, which I would be without if not for my UNH education.”

While at UNH, Suttile had to manage multiple projects and commitments simultaneously, so while producing Are You Afraid of The ‘90s?, and in different stages and variations of her life, she has been able to apply that same methodology of productivity. “The difficulties and challenges I learned as a student gave me the basis to be able to properly handle adulthood inevitably as it enfolds.”