8 AM

Greensboro, North Carolina | Film Short

Family, Drama

Michael Tourek

1 Campaigns | North Carolina, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $17,000 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

109 supporters | followers

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What happens when the dreams you cultivate come into conflict with the real responsibility of life? Many people find their greatest talent cast aside in the face of life’s daily pressures and discover there's rarely an easy answer forward. 8 AM explores life's choices, dreams, and sacrifices.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

Over the years, I’ve faced my own struggles in pursuing a creative career and supporting a family. Our core creative team is excited to gather around this idea we can all greatly relate to. Our hope is that you will find some connection to our story through whatever dreams or goals you strive for.

The Story

It's fair to say that life hasn't always panned out for Lutz like he might have hoped: a low-level factory job that feels like a prison sentence, a one-bathroom house shared with his wife and daughter, and a cigarette habit he can't quite kick. As he gets ready for work in the morning, he remembers his younger days and wonders how they got so far away. He loves his family - that is never in doubt. The problem is that his responsibilities as a husband, father, and employee have meant sacrificing the dream still buried deep within him - being a poet. Lutz pushes aside his writing and graduate school as his responsibilities in life shift. Over time, he begins drifting through his days only half present. But when his boss tells him he's been laid off, just as his wife has found out she's pregnant again, he's confronted with the choices he's been wrestling with for years. Does he finally strive for something new and the life he thinks he's always imagined? Or stay and embrace his commitments to his family and find the poetry and passion in his everyday life?

We've all struggled with the classic dilemma between chasing passion and supporting our family. At what cost do we deny our families a good life for our art? This is the story we're telling through the eye of Lutz. As a middle-aged man who gave up a college education to support his family, Lutz finds himself at a crossroads. We want to bring the audience into Lutz's mind, showing his dilemma through his eyes. Camera movements will be dictated by Lutz's movements and attention. The sounds that we hear will be from his perspective. The audience will feel what he feels, and at the end, hopefully, they'll look inward at something in their own life that they have sacrificed for the ones they love.

Along with attaching the camera's movements to Lutz, we will also show his perspective shift through the lens choices and camera distance. Lutz begins the film closed off from the world, choosing to fall inward with his thoughts. We will reflect this choice with longer lenses, shallow depth of field, and color. We will also frame him as isolated from everyone else. This will gradually intensify until it breaks him.

What happens when the dream you've cultivated comes into conflict with the responsibilities of daily life? Based on the poetry of a dear friend, D.C. Lutz, we believe this script has a deep resonance because of this important question. Many people find their greatest talent or passion cast aside in the face of life's daily pressures. And like Lutz finds out, there's rarely an easy answer when trying to find the best way forward. As we've worked on this story over the years we've come to discover our own struggles in pursuing a creative career while supporting a family. Our core creative team is excited to gather around this idea that each of us can strongly relate to: It's our hope that you can find some connection to Lutz and his dilemma, through whatever dream or goal you might be chasing.

8 a.m. reunites the creative team of Michael Tourek, producer, Thomas Mendolia, director, and Harvey Robinson, director of photography. We hope to raise our goal of $10,000 through a dedicated audience on Seed & Spark to cover the bare minimum costs of shooting the film. We're taking the experience we've gained from no-budget shorts and reassembling our team of passionate, talented collaborators to bring this project to life. 


Our $15,000 goal is the bare minimum needed to get the film made at a production quality everyone involved can be proud of and avoid exploiting the work of all production members.

  • If we raise $16,000, we'll be able to have contingency funds in place should anything go wrong, as well as cover our post-production costs.
  • If we raise $17,500, we'll be able to cover our festival, distribution, and promotional costs for completing and getting the film into the world and in front of a wider audience.
  • If we raise $20,000, we'll be able to pay our director, cinematographer, and producer (who are currently sacrificing pay for their work out of passion for the project and its message). And we'll be able to offer our team more respectable day rates, as they are all working for far below average - also out of passion for the project and its message.

Thank you for being part of this campaign and joining us in the making of this film! Principal photography for 8 a.m. will take place in Greensboro, NC beginning the week of Dec. 11, 2023.

Please Follow & Share!

 Sharing our campaign on your social media is as helpful as a donation. And doing BOTH goes a long way to helping bring 8 a.m. to life! 



-Michael Tourek


Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Locations Rental

Costs $1,000

There are two key locations in our story. Lutz's house and the factory where he works. Your contribution will be key in acquiring these.

Crew Compensation

Costs $4,000

The crew is the backbone of filmmaking, and we want to be sure to compensate them fairly!

Catering / Craft Services

Costs $3,000

The best way to keep all involved happy and motivated is to feed them. Full bellies = warm hearts and collaborative spirits.

Cast Compensation

Costs $2,000

We are a union project with an approved waiver. Our cast is incredible and we want to make sure they are paid for their time and talent!

Gear Rental

Costs $1,000

To make quality films you need top-notch equipment. We are shooting on an Alexa camera with high-quality lenses and lighting equipment.


Costs $1,500

Production insurance will protect all involved, providing peace of mind and allowing us to freely collaborate and create a quality film


Costs $1,000

Editing is key!


Costs $500

Much of this film is shot in action with very little dialogue. A strong composer and music is necessary to solidify the tone of our story.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team

Meet our creative team!

Director, Thomas Mendolia

Thomas Mendolia is a filmmaker born in Brooklyn, but raised in North Carolina where he graduated from UNC Greensboro’s BFA Acting Program. Utilizing his acting training and chasing his true passion, Thomas later attended USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. He has directed several short films such as OVERNIGHT (2019 Flyway Film Festival “Best Student Short”), MR. THISFORTHAT (currently being turned into a feature with Thomas set to direct), and THIS WILD ABYSS which won several awards including the 2022 SCAD Film Festival Best Student Short. Thomas currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with his wife, Cheryl, and his best friend (dogs), Murphy & Maggie. www.thomasmendolia.com

Director of Photography, Harvey Robinson

Harvey Robinson is the digital artist behind MonkeyWhale Productions, a Greensboro production company that specializes in short films, documentaries, commercial video and music videos, among many others.



Check out his reel! 


Michael Tourek – LUTZ (lead)

Ozark, The Walking Dead, Office Christmas Party

Born in Charleston, SC, and raised in Omaha, NE, Michael came about acting at a young age. Some of his fondest memories are performing at his local community theatre. After spending a number of years in NYC, Michael moved to Greensboro, NC where his career took an interesting turn. Michael is still extremely active in his acting, however, he now finds his greatest successes in raising his two beautiful children Grace and Isaac.



Bethany Anne Lind – WENDY (lead)

Ozark, Reprisal, Doom Patrol

Bethany Anne Lind is best known for her arc as the pregnant pastor's wife Grace Young, in the first season of Ozark and as Molly Quinn in Hulu's short-lived Reprisal. She's also known for her work in indie features such as "Blood On Her Name" opposite Will Patton, "Through the Glass Darkly" opposite Robin Lively, and "Lilly" playing Patricia Clarkson's daughter. Bethany grew up in North Carolina the oldest of five children in a creative family, and has made a home in Atlanta where she has worked for much of her career. She is also a widely sought-after theatre actor with credits in regional theatres from Signature Theatre, LaJolla Playhouse, Arena Stage, Alliance Theatre, and others. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3869592/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0_tt_0_nm_8_q_bethany%2520ann

Lee Spencer – CARL (lead)

The Peanut Butter Falcon, Six, The Walking Dead: World Beyond

Born in Vardaman, Mississippi. Graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. Lived and worked in Los Angeles for 12 years. Resides in NC and works throughout the Southeast in film, TV and theater. Teaches on-camera acting at in-Studio in Greensboro, NC. Teaches yoga since 2015 at Mind Body Fitness Yoga and is a member of the Piedmont Swing Dance Society. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0818013/?ref_=nmbio_ov 

Current Team