Welcome to the Indiegogo fundraising page for Mastodon, the short film I will be directing in May of this year and my final film at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. This marks the beginning of an exciting adventure my team and I will be undertaking over the next few months. We are happy to share our journey with you, and hope you will consider becoming a part of the Mastodon family. Unfortunately, filmmaking is an expensive process, and so we artists rely on the generosity of people like you to bring our visions to life. I thank you deeply for considering this project.
Aaron, John and Dan were an inseparable trio. They were best friends who spent every waking moment together, getting into all kinds of trouble. One day, a tragic accident results in Dan’s untimely death, which drives an indelible wedge between Aaron and John. Things would never be the same again. John tries to move on with his life by working hard and starting a family. Aaron, unable to overcome his guilt, spirals into severe alcoholism and depression.
Now, ten years after the tragedy, circumstances bring the two friends back into each other’s lives. After attempting suicide and alienating everyone else in his life, Aaron calls John to ask for help. Over the course of a weekend, ghosts from the past resurface as the boys – now men – battle to face the consequences of that fateful day. Mastodon is a clash of past and present, as John and Aaron encounter their past selves, revisit defining moments, and confront memories of years ago.
In our adult lives we are surrounded by friends, colleagues, family and loved ones – but no friendships are as strong as they were when we were younger. Mastodon is about two such inseparable friends who grew apart as they got older. The two boys react very differently to a tragedy – John matures and takes control of his life, while Aaron lets go of everything and spirals into a crippling addiction. After hitting rock bottom, all Aaron wants is to relive the joy of his younger days with his best friend – but John has changed, and is no longer the boy Aaron once knew.
Mastodon is a film about a friendship that once was. It is about how people change as they grow older. It is about how different people deal with tragedy, and it is about the things that can compel a person to throw his life away. Most importantly, it is a film about overcoming the past and learning to accept the losses we all must sometimes face. This is a story that is very personal to me, and I could not be more excited to share it with the world.
I am lucky to be joined by a top-notch crew of colleagues, professionals and close friends to help me on the journey of making this film a reality. We have some bold ideas on how to visualize and dramatize this powerful story. Here are some of the talented individuals working on this project, starting with myself.
Oren Soffer - Director
Born in Haifa, Israel, Oren grew up in the United States watching Steven Spielberg movies and building LEGO sets. These activities laid the groundwork for what would eventually become his lifeblood – a burning love of all things film. After moving back to Israel at age 10, Oren continued to pursue his deep-rooted passion, making numerous award-winning short films that have played in film festivals around the world throughout high school and his three-year military service. Oren is currently a junior at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts majoring in Film & Television production, where he has been honing his technical and professional skills in preparation for a career in the film industry. In this time, Oren has also established himself as an accomplished cinematographer, and has served as Director of Photography on dozens of short films, commercials, and music videos. He has worked in a variety of crew positions on countless student projects and a number of independent feature films, including He's Way More Famous Than You, (dir. Michael Urie), Kill Your Darlings (dir. John Krokidas), and The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete (dir. George Tillman, Jr). Most recently, Oren’s short film Swimming Pool premiered at the Tallgrass International Film Festival and has been accepted into several more film festivals, where it will screen in the coming months.
Craig Clayton - Writer
Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, Craig is currently in his third year studying Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He was recognized as a Scholastic Young Arts Finalist for writing, and has written dozens of award-winning screenplays, including the short films The Ruined, which won Best Short Film at the East Tennessee Television and Film Commission’s ‘The Line’ Film Festival; What’s the Deal, which was accepted to the National Film Festival for Talented Youth; and Citizen Jane, which won Second Place in the ‘Tisch 48’ filmmaking competition. Craig enjoys collaborating with directors throughout every step of the filmmaking process, and is looking forward to seeing his latest written work become a reality.
Marlee Roberts - Producer
A member of SAG-AFTRA for twelve years, Marlee's early production experience has been as a professional actress. She can be seen in TV programs on ABC and the Adult Swim Network, and in feature films such as Spaz and The English Teacher, theatrically released next year. Her directorial debut, the anti-bullying music video "Call Me Whatever,” received international recognition in schools, organizations, and campaigns worldwide, and her autobiographical short film, Free, is currently running the festival circuit with acceptances into Jax Film Festival (FL), Beverly Film Fest (MA), Take Two Film Fest (NY), and Tompkins Sq. Park Fest (NY), among others. After producing over twenty student and independent projects during her time spent at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Marlee is grateful to be afforded the opportunity to be a part of this film, which will be a great calling card for its director.
Sam Besser - Producer
Sam is a junior at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, studying Film & Television Production with minors in Producing and Business of Entertainment, Media & Technology. During his time at Tisch, Sam has produced a wide range of student projects, from experimentals to short documentaries and narrative films, and even an independent television pilot. Most recently, Sam produced the short narrative film It Don't Come Easy (dir. Sabrina Jaglom), starring Evanna Lynch of the popular Harry Potter motion picture franchise. Sam has interned at Zucker Productions (Fair Game, Friends with Benefits) based in Santa Monica, California, and at Hayden 5 Media, a rising film and video production company based in New York City. Sam has collaborated with Oren Soffer on a number of projects and cannot wait to see this beautiful film come to fruition.
Cory Fraiman-Lott - Director of Photography
Cory has applied his eye for aesthetics to dozens of projects during his time at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he concentrated in cinematography studies. He has gained invaluable experience working on dozens of film sets - both student and professional - over the past few years, and through internships at Schumacher Camera and Essanay Lighting Studio, two notable rental houses in the Chicago area. Cory is also an accomplished comedic actor, headlining the improvisational comedy troupe “Dangerbox” and starring in the pilot for the TV sitcom Between A & B. Cory is thrilled to continue his collaboration with his incredibly talented colleagues.
Carlos Zozaya - Editor
Carlos is currently completing his studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where he has pursued his ambitions as a filmmaker as well as honed his editing craft. Carlos has also taken courses in Mexico City’s Centro Universitario de Capacitación Cinematográfica and the London Film Academy. Awards include the Third Place Prize at the International Latin-American film contest “Caminos de la Libertad” where a short film he co-directed was televised nationally in Mexico City. As an editor Carlos has worked on dozens of short films and was an assistant editor on the feature documentary American Bear: An Adventure in the Kindness of Strangers which is currently being prepped for submission to numerous film festivals. He was also the editor of a short-film version of the same documentary titled The Friendliest Town in Idaho.
In addition, we have a fantastic slate of filmmakers working in other crew positions, including:
Natalie Stowell - Production Designer
Laura Brown - Art Director
Dan Hasse - Assistant Director
Camille D'Elia - 2nd Assistant Director
Emily Zoscak - Co-Producer
Erik Choquette - Unit Production Manager/Colorist
Rose Bochner - Line Producer
Chris Kappel - Gaffer
Zach Terry - Key Grip
Alex Schaefer - 1st Assistant Camera
Parker Hill - Grip
Demi Chen - Concept Artist
Katie Baldocchi - Make-Up Artist
Nora Unkel - Sound Mixer
Sean Kiely - Sound Designer
Eric Phillips - Composer
Filmmaking is a complex process involving a wide variety of tools and resources necessary for running a smooth production. Here are some examples of costs associated with the professional standard of filmmaking we aspire to:
Camera Equipment: $800
Lighting & Grip Equipment: $700
Catering and Craft Services: $1,500
Production Design: $500
As student filmmakers, we are going to endeavor to be as creative and resourceful as possible in order to minimize the costs involved with producing this film. However, there are some costs that are unavoidable. Since we are shooting Mastodon outside of New York City, we will need to provide transportation and lodging for our crew, as well as food for the duration of our 4-day shoot.
After budgeting the film, we feel confident that for $8,000 we can make this film a reality. We have already raised some of our budget through other outlets, but we still need another $5,200 to reach our goal. Any additional funds raised will go towards enhancing the quality of the film and the departmental budgets to give our team access to better resources and equipment.
How Else Can You Help?
We understand that there are a lot of other valuable projects and causes out there, both in film and beyond. However, if you cannot contribute funds, there are plenty of other ways you can help spread the word and expand the Mastodon family.
Here are some things you can do:
- Share this campaign with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, be it through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, E-mail, word of mouth - any way you can.
- Let us know if you have resources that could help us or know of anyone who does - equipment, props, services, locations, even food; anything will help.
- Goodwill, vocal support, kindness and interest in the project are incredibly valuable to me and to the team, and we would be more than happy to hear your kind words and encouragement.
Thank you so much for your time. Whatever your contribution, we hope that you are interested in the project and excited to help us bring Mastodon to the world.
Concept art by Demi Chen.