A film about love and science. STEM is a biopunk drama dealing with restlessness, neglected love and plants that glow in the dark.
Julien Planté
United Kingdom
4 Team Members

Short Synopsis

A young couple live on the 16th floor of a tower block in London. Jim is a biohacker, a self taught scientist obsessively trying to create plants that glow in the dark. As this passion takes over his life, and the apartment, his girlfriend becomes increasingly alienated. One day, while Jim is sleeping, one of his plants glows bright. However it is his girlfriend, not Jim, that witnesses this wonder. And it is her intervention that brings it to the world.

Lucia Helenka - Director's vision

Thank you for taking a look at our short film STEM. We are now half way through the film making process, having shot all the footage and now looking to edit and polish this movie into the gem that we believe it can be!

This Indiegogo campaign will help us to complete STEM with computer effects that are central to the story as well as create a soulful and uplifting sound design. We need this crowd funding push to help get us across the finishing line. Any support is much appreciated! Please join us and be part of our story, join the party and support the creative team behind STEM.

About the film

Set in contemporary London our short film STEM takes you into the world of a young biohacker, Jim, and his desire to make the ordinary extraordinary. Much is at stake as he becomes torn between love and science, between real life and his passion to succeed.

Biohacking is the new hacking

STEM takes a look at the phenomenon of biohacking and the new r/evolutionary future that it can lead to. Biohacking is happening from bedrooms, basements and home made labs around the globe, and many of these self-taught scientists are young people. Today all that's needed to construct genes from scratch is a laptop, easily available gene sequence information and mail order synthetic DNA.
We wanted to film a story in a tower block that was about something other than drugs and gangs. A story about a couple that seem detached from a city that sprawls out below. A story about what happens when an all absorbing passion displaces love.
A story that spreads a little magic out into the world.

Biopunk is a movement that believes that science is for everybody, not just corporate labs - Wikipedia

How did this all start?

The true story of glowing plants, and maybe even a harnessable light source, first captured Will Duke's imagination. He brought it to Lucia and she agreed it could be part of an engaging and poetic short film. Staying close to the actual science process was important to us. As were the mind blowing questions that this type of creation raises. What's happening now in Biohacking is only the tip of the iceberg of what will be possible in the very near future in terms of affecting the nature of species.

What came next?

Lucia wrote the script. With a deliberate decision not to use spoken dialogue between the characters, instead allowing the city, the tower block, the media and sound design to carry us through the story.

So who shot it, who designed it?

The film was shot with incredible energy by DOP Marcus Autelli and his close team on an Alexa camera.
The production design team was headed by Greg Shaw who delivered high design value whilst Polly Davenport and Charlotte Austen dressed the set with layers of fine detail.

Who are the beautiful people in your film?

We have been very lucky to cast two incredibly natural and talented young actors, Jim Liu and Petra Hajduk, who delivered great performances throughout the shoot. We know this is just the start of great things for them!

So what's next?

Completing the edit with our dedicated editor Greg Butler. Then, all the postproduction stages that will make this film sing. A colour grade and the challenging element of creating glowing plants using computer graphics.

Tell us more about the sound?

The film will need an atmospheric and soulful sound design which will be overseen by Tom Gibbons. Our plan is to make the tower block resonate with the rumblings of an eclectic community that can be heard through the doors and walls of the tower block. To present an urbanscape that hums with rumblings of dissatisfaction, radio waves, microwaves and pollutants. However as a new day dawns something else floats in on the air...

Tell us more about you, Lucia

Filmmaking is my passion. I have been making films from the age of sixteen and went on to study art at Goldsmith's alongside artist and film director Steve McQueen. I have produced and directed documentaries, pop promos and films that have been shown in galleries and for TV broadcast and webcasts. This film aims to show that a new and committed London team has arrived, full of vim and talent. We want the opportunity to take this further and make more films and features.

What will Indiegogo money allow you to do?

Receiving the money from Indigogo will allow us to complete this film to a high standard and submit it to international festivals. We have self funded the film to this point  but now need help towards the post production and promotion. We want this film to resonate and glow!

How can we help?

Thank you for looking at our campaign. Please support us if you can. We promise to keep you updated and entertained along the way with fun content, virtual busking, online dance lessons and alternative gardening tips. Be part of our story, join the party and support the actors and creative talent behind STEM. Together let's make a film that is a little different, a film that spreads a little magic!

Producers' notes of intention

Jason Underhill - Producer

I have worked with Lucia on a diverse range of commercial projects for my company - P for Production - but this is the first short film I have produced for her. And the first collaboration with my new feature film company – Films of London – where we intend to make six to eight features over the next five years. We believe this film will be a great showcase for Lucia’s sense of story and her understanding of contemporary and resonant themes and will help propel her into directing features in the next couple of years.

Will Duke – Artist and filmmaker

I conceived the idea for the short whilst reading about the successful Kickstarter campaign run by a group of young scientists in the US hoping to raise money to produce a real glowing plant. I was fascinated by the controversy that surrounded their campaign and the legal and ethical issues raised by the project. The questions of what are the potential consequences of us having the potential to modify nature outside of regulated laboratories – in a garage or bedroom. And what happens when modified species are released, accidentally or otherwise, into the environment? I took these ideas to Lucia as a starting point for this short film. Our hope is to examine some of these very contemporary and increasingly relevant ideas within the context of a modern, urban relationship.

Julien Planté – Lucia’s partner and producer at Minky Productions.

I first met Lucia whilst working at the French Institute in London where she asked me to introduce her to Catherine Deneuve for the narration of her short art film Hanoi. We have since worked together on numerous productions for the Cinémoi movie channel. I have always had great admiration in Lucia's artistic talent and unique view on the world. She is full of ideas, stories and creative solutions. A natural filmmaker. On the set of STEM she retained her vision throughout the limits and pressures of an incredibly time tight and low budget shoot. Our goal is to make a feature film in 2015. In order to do that we want to make three or four shorts in 2014, and STEM is the first one. I will be in charge of the promotion and the distribution of the film, ensuring it travels and gets seen.

Your Support

This is an independent film being produced outside traditional studio and government-funded systems. Our vision is to produce a beautiful and moving short film. We have already shot it, now we need to edit it and secure a small budget for promotion and distribution. Our priority is to fund post production and visual effects. To make this happen we are looking to raise £6,000.

The majority of the money raised will be allocated to the editing and the Post-Production, including the computer graphics necessary to make our plants glow in the dark.

The remainder of the funding will be spent on promotion, festival submissions worldwide and distribution.

We can’t wait to show this film to the world, and we hope you can join us on this journey. Remember every pledge, no matter how modest, gets us closer to making that vision a reality.

Cast and Crew

Lucia Helenka - Writer, Director

Lucia studied Fine Art at Goldsmith's College and went on to exhibit large scale photography installations and films in galleries internationally. Lucia founded Minky Productions from which she produces and directs content for commercial clients, as well as creates her own work and writes screenplays. Lucia was selected for the first Berlin Talent Campus, the Abbas Kiarostami workshop in London, and was also a member of Vauxhall's VX Collective, celebrating young British Talent.

Example of Lucia Helenka’s previous works:

. Riko, 3’ short film, produced by Hot Property Films as part of the Abbas Kiarostami Workshop (2005)

. Hanoi, 5’ short film, produced by Minky Productions, shot in Vietnam, based on a text by Marguerite Duras, narrated by Catherine Deneuve

. Minky Productions, SOHK.TV

Marcus Autelli - Director of Photography

Marcus studied Cinematography at the Buenos Aires University of Cinema (FUC). Building his experience in film projects, he has also worked as a camera operator and gaffer on many short films, documentaries, commercials, music promos, viral and experimental videos.

Greg Shaw - Production Designer

Greg Shaw is a celebrated Production Designer and Art Director with fourteen years’ experience in film and television. He received acclaim for his excellent work on the feature Ill Manors and on the hit TV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

Greg Butler - Editor

Editor Greg Butler studied film at London College of Communications before working alongside Lucia Helenka for a number of years as the primary editor at Minky Productions from 2008-2012. Together they worked on a vast array of productions, including commercials, documentaries, movie trailers and promos. Greg currently works as a freelance editor on TV production and online content, also producing films for interior design clients.

Will Duke - Artist & Designer

Will Duke is a video artist and designer based in the UK. Will studied Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing and at the Glasgow School of Art. As a visual artist he has exhibited throughout the UK and internationally. His work is part of museum and gallery collections in Scotland, Norway and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Since 2009 Will has been working as a video designer for contemporary dance and theatre creating film and projection content for the stage.

Jason Underhill - Producer

Jason studied at the National Film and Television School. He started his own commercials production company five years ago and has made commercials for many high profile clients including Waitrose, Land Rover and NatWest. This year he has set up a feature film company that intends to make low to medium budget feature films with a London slant.,

Julien Planté - Producer

Julien went to a business school in France before moving to London in 2001 and programming the Ciné Lumière. From here he became TV Controller for Cinémoi channel on Sky and Virgin. Julien Planté is co-owner and producer at Minky Productions, creating short form content for TV broadcast and online clients and developing a feature script.  Also running SOHK.TV, an online channel of film director interviews., SOHK.TV, Cinémoi 2012 showreel

Competition for every donator, at every level (lucky draw)

As soon as you decide to be part of STEM and contribute at any level, you are in the chance to win one of the amazing prizes we’ve got to offer:

. Two Pairs of tickets to see the film of your choice at the Ciné Lumière, French Institute in London, anytime in February or March 2014

. An ABSOLUT bottle – we’ve got 6 of them to offer!!! (x2 Original, x2 Raspberri, x2 Citron)

. A lunch or dinner for two at MOMO restaurant on Heddon Street, London (W1B), inclusive of bottle of wine


How much money are you getting from other sources?

The only extra money going into this film is from our own pockets the rest is being provided by your kind donations.

What if you don’t reach the campaign goal?

We are committed to making this movie no matter what happens or how much we raise. Any and all money received from this campaign will go towards making this film. The show must go on!


To become one of our supporters, just click on the red button “Contribute Now” on top of the page. Indiegogo will ask for your pledge and which reward you want.

Everyone who makes a contribution to STEM campaign will receive a unique reward (listed on the right hand side of the page). Remember, you're not just donating, you're becoming part of a community of Indie film supporters AND you're getting some really cool perks for your commitment!

This is an incredibly exciting project and even if you can't make a donation then please help us by spreading the word via Facebook or using the Indiegogo share tools. Thanks for your referrals and all your continued support!

Find This Campaign On
raised by 132 people in 1 month
109% funded
No time left
£6,000 GBP goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on March 15, 2014
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Select a Perk
  • £5GBP
    Short Film Friend

    . A 'Special Thanks' with your name in the credits of the film

    8 claimed
  • £10GBP
    Short Film Funder

    . A 'Special Thanks' with your name in the credits of the film and . A private link to HD video upon completion

    40 claimed
  • £20GBP
    Short Film Supporter

    . A 'Special Thanks' with your name in the credits of the film and . A private link to HD video upon completion and . A ticket to the Public Screening in London, taking place in April 2014

    32 claimed
  • £50GBP
    Short Film Sponsor

    . A 'Special Thanks' with your name in the credits of the film and . A private link to HD video upon completion and . A ticket to the Public Screening in London, taking place in April 2014 and . A signed limited edition ART PRINT from artists Lucia Helenka and Will Duke (edition of 50 only, approx dimension 30x20cm)

    14 claimed
  • £50GBP
    Short Film Sponsor

    . A 'Special Thanks' with your name in the credits of the film and . A private link to HD video upon completion and . Three tickets to the Public Screening in London, taking place in April 2014 and . A signed limited edition ART PRINT from artists Lucia Helenka and Will Duke (edition of 50 only, approx dimension 30x20cm)

    8 claimed
  • £100GBP
    Short Film Partner

    A great package that includes a 'Special Contributor' credit on the film, a private link to HD video upon completion and up to five tickets to the Public Screening in London, taking place in April 2014. You will also be able to see rough cuts as we work to finish the film, and you will get: . A limited edition art piece FLICK BOOK from STEM, signed by Lucia Helenka

    6 claimed
  • £250GBP
    Associate Producer

    An exclusive package that includes all the above with an 'Associate Producer' credit on the film (also appearing on the IMDb listing of the film), and an invitation to spend the first shoot day on Lucia Helenka's next short film

    10 claimed
  • £1,000GBP
    Art Collector

    An exclusive print created by artists Lucia Helenka and Will Duke, in a limited edition of three. Inspired by the glowing plant in STEM. Approx dimension: 40x30cm. Details to follow. You will also get an 'Associate Producer' credit on the film as in the above perk.

    0 out of 3 claimed
  • £2,000GBP
    Executive Producer

    You are an 'Executive Producer', with credit on the film (also appearing on the IMDb listing of the film). Plus all of the above.

    0 out of 2 claimed
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