Former Burrell execs produce a warm-hearted short

Brenda Blonski, CD turned filmmaker

A pair of Burrell Communications alums turned their talents to narrative film, producing the short “Raggedy Man,” a seasonal, lighthearted tale of a homeless man begging food in neighborhood diner, who catches the attention and eventually the heart of a beautiful woman. 

Burrell’s former award-winning SVP/creative director Brenda Blonski wrote the script and former VP/producer Sharon Kimbrough produced it.  It was directed by Julio Desir, creative director at The Marketing Store and formerly CD at Harpo Studios.

Morris “Butch” Stewart’s Good Stewart Productions coproduced and his JoyArt Music, one of the city’s longest-running music composer/producers, did the scoring. 

The film’s low-budget was self-funded, with most of the actors donating their time. “They loved the script and saw it as an opportunity to showcase their talent,” says Kimbrough.

Second City actor, Aaron Burns, plays the Homeless Man, whose personality outshines his raggedy appearance. Blonski’s daughter, Alexanna Blonski, classically trained as an actress at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in LA, is the beautiful woman with the big heart who gives the film its surprising twist.

Jack McCabe is the “older man” whose performance personified the public’s general disdain for homeless people. 

The one-day shoot took place late November at Jack’s Restaurant, in Skokie.  Crew included Jon Murakami, DP/lighting; Joe Lim, second camera and editor; Nicholas Fanelli, sound and Lillian, makeup.  Brenda Stewart, Stewart’s wife and partner, handled set design ad props. 

Alexanna Blonski, the woman with the heartBlonski, who has a heart for the plight of the homeless, says she wanted to do something different than “a documentary  showing homeless people living in cardboard boxes or living under bridges ‘and isn’t that sad?’”

Kimbrough describes the short as a “modern day princess and the frog tale. It’s really a love story because at the end there is a connection between them.”

Blonski and Kimbrough brought the concept to Desir (brother of Jon Desir, Optimus EP)last year. “It’s definitely an entertaining and lighthearted story,” he says, “but you come away realizing that those who are unfortunate enough to find themselves homeless has a story, and that person deserves to be treated like a human being.” 

He adds that Blonski did such a great job of profiling each character and creating their backstories that it could eventually be written as a two-hour feature.

Writer Blonski and producer Kimbrough are currently freelancing.

Emma Young is a screenwriter, author and former agency creative director.  She co-founded the Black Screenwriters Association and presently serves on the board of the National Assn. of Black Screenwriters. She can be reached at