Petaluma, California | Film Short

Thriller, Shorts Program

Marina Michelson

1 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $19,070 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

244 supporters | followers

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Rachel, a former Brooklynite, has persuaded her boyfriend to take a stab at farming on an abandoned sheep ranch. But the romantic dream of self-reliance quickly collapses. When a sheep dies under their watch, Rachel becomes determined to deal with the remains and in doing so, prove her worth.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
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  • The Team
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Mission Statement

From a female writer-director with a female lead, the motivation behind this project is to increase representation of women in film, both in front of & behind the camera. With our producers Wild Obscura, we are focused on inclusive hiring to bring this complex female-driven story to the screen.

The Story



Mood Reel


The Story

Biophilia is a psychological thriller in which Rachel, a former Brooklynite, has persuaded her boyfriend, Daniel, to take a stab at farming on his family’s abandoned sheep ranch. But the romantic dream of self-reliance reveals itself to be a harsher reality. Isolated on the remote ranch, Rachel grows increasingly uncertain of herself under Daniel’s controlling influence. When a sheep dies under their watch, Rachel becomes determined to make something of its remains and in doing so prove her worth.




This is a story about negotiating the terms of sustainable living.

Inspired by the effects of the recent recession, the roots of Biophilia can be traced to the months following the crash when I feverishly fought for space to grow vegetables on my fire escape in Brooklyn. I was eager to nurture something tangible while success in the city proved increasingly elusive. I watched as my peers did the same, leaving jobs to start food trucks or pickling companies, rooftop gardens and butcher shops. Our generation was reeling from the frauds of Wall Street and we were intent on finding value beyond the dollar in our lives.

The seeds of this renewed curiosity in wilderness living grew into today’s thriving food-awareness movement and the so-called “farm-to-table” scene. We see the resurgence of this interest on television, where survivalism programming reigns and homesteading shows like Alaska: The Last Frontier hold captive audiences season after season. But this interest in returning to the wilderness from civilization is not new.

Self-reliance has long been an American ideal. We go into the wilderness in search for ourselves. In the film, the protagonist Rachel is desperate to escape the voices constantly critiquing her choices, so she moves to an abandoned ranch to assert her independence. But nature provides tests of character unknown in civil society. Biophilia pits this lust for the land against the actuality of living close to nature.

As we catapult into the 21st century and strive towards a better future, we are faced with pressing questions. How do we avoid repeating the cycles of recent failures? How do we reassess our values and work towards new models of sustainable living? The film’s title was introduced to me by prominent food thinker Michael Pollan, by way of the biologist and conservationist E.O. Wilson, who defined biophilia as the innate, inherited love we humans have for the natural world with which we co-evolved. That love of nature is not a partisan feeling. Environmentalism is everyone’s cause. 

Woman Versus Nature

We are determined to tell this story with a decidedly feminist bent. Despite a handful of exceptions, the mythic rugged individualist is predominantly characterized as a masculine experience. Women also have long, courageous, and adventurous relationship with the wild. We want to see more of those stories celebrated on screen.

Historically speaking, unmarried women are challenged to affirm their worth without husbands or  children or the dowry tradition to give them inherent value. This film aims to show how capable and self-sufficient a woman can be despite constant attack on her abilities.

As female filmmakers, we want to empower women through representative storytelling and break the gendered barriers that women face daily in all fields, from film to farming. In Hollywood, we are still a minority and as a result, there are fewer female protagonists on screen. Be a part of the change you want to see by supporting Biophilia!



(Reports from a NYFA study of gender inequlity in film)


Why We Need You To Join Us

With this film, we hope to inspire thought and raise curiosity about the honorable work of growing our food and caring for our country’s beautiful landscapes. We are working with local farmers and organizations like The Marin Agricultural Land Trust to promote their vital mission of land conservation and share their stories.

Our dream is to make a visceral, visually resonant film that honors the work of living off the land. Biophilia will buzz with life, smell of sweat, and immerse the audience in a woman’s experience.

Your contribution will enable us to assemble an excellent team and all the equipment needed to bring this story to the screen in a compelling way.


Fiscal Sponsorship

Biophilia is sponsored by From the Heart Productions, Inc, which has been successfully funding films since 1993 under the 501© 3 Internal Revenue Code and section 509 (a) (2) of the Code. As such, any monetary donations to Biophilia qualify as charitable contributions under the U.S. Tax Code. As a donor, you may use IRS number 95 444 5418 on your taxes with the donated amount for a tax deduction.



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

Sleeper Trailers

Costs $1,000

We're looking for mobile ways to house our crew due to the remoteness of our locations.


Costs $1,000

Know of any local lodging options for 8-12 people?

Alexa Camera Package

Costs $3,000

To shoot the film on the best camera possible.

Lighting Equipment

Costs $3,500

We'll be shooting some of the film at night and will need lots of light!

Film Festival Submissions

Costs $500

This covers the cost of at least six submissions.

Post-Production Fees - Picture

Costs $1,500

We'll need a superb editor to color correct and complete all visual elements.

Post-Production Fees - Sound

Costs $1,000

Sound is huge! We'll need a sound mixer and music for the film.


Costs $900

We'll need hard-drives for storage through production and in post.


Costs $1,000

We'll need to rent vehicles to transport crew, as well as pay for gas, and any tolls.

Distribution Costs

Costs $1,000

We need all eyes on the film so we can to grow our audience as filmmakers!


Costs $2,500

We need to be insured at each location to protect everyone on board.


Costs $100

Due to the remoteness of our locations, we need a special router/monthly plan.


Costs $200

We'll need materials to style locations and build parts of the set.


Costs $1,300

We need to feed a crew of 20 for the entirety of the shoot.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team

Marina Michelson (writer/director)

is an actor and filmmaker. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she trained with the Atlantic Theater Company, her film credits include the lead role in Should’ve Kissed, which played at festivals around the world and was the opening selection of the Jeonju International Film Festival. The L.A. Times called her recent turn as the lead role in Amy Herzog's After The Revolution at the Chance Theater full of “grace and grit.” Her short film Eureka!, made alongside her producing partner Meryl Williams, can be seen on IndieFlix Shorts through Amazon Video.


Meryl Jones Williams (actor, Rachel) is an actor, filmmaker, and musician. She holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. As an actor, she was last seen in Roxanne, Roxanne, which premiered at Sundance 2017. Meryl's other prominent roles include starring alongside Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton in Rob Reiner’s feature And So It Goes and she was also recently seen in Jenna Laurenzo’s short Girl Night Stand, which garnered over 1 million views online and screened at numerous festivals. She has produced several short films with her producing partner, Marina Michelson, as well as The Postcard Project web-series.


Dan Pfau (actor, Daniel) is an actor and creator based in LA. Dan trained at NYU-Tisch and the Atlantic Theater Company. He has worked on films featured in the TriBeCa Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, and Sundance. On TV, he had the chance to work with legends Betty White, Stacy Keach and Patrick Warburton. Dan has also worked on numerous national campaigns for brands including Fiat, Burger King, US Bank and Microsoft. Most recently, Dan created, starred and produced the web-series Therapy.


Devin Shepherd (producer) is a producer and co-founder of Wild Obscura Films. Devin attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she received a degree in Film & TV Production. She has aided in producing short and feature-length films seen in festivals worldwide, most recently “The Disenchantment” with Executive Producer Leah Meyerhoff and director Caryn Waechter. In 2016, Devin was awarded SheROCKS Filmmaker of the Year and was one of 50 filmmakers participating the Mayor's Office of New York's Finance Lab with her producing partner, Nora Unkel.


Nora Unkel (producer) is a writer, director, producer, and co-founder for Wild Obscura Films. Nora graduated from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Nora’s most recent short film, “The Goblin Song”, premiered at The Sacramento Film and Music Festival and won several awards the First Run Film Festival. Along with producing short films and music videos, Nora works as a post-production producer for films such as the Sundance Grand Prize Documentary Winner- Weiner, and others such as DUDE, Aardvark, and Newtown. As a writer, Nora has placed among the top 2% of entrants for the 2015 Academy Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship program.


Lowell A. Meyer (Director of Photography) is a working cinematographer in Los Angeles, CA with a bachelors degree in Cinematography from Emerson College. His narrative credits include Aisha Tyler’s feature film directorial debut “Axis” (currently in post-production), as well as short films such as Alexander Yan’s “Elko” (2012 AFI Fest Official Selection), Clara Aranovich’s “Primrose” (2015 SXSW Official Premiere, Vimeo Staff Pick), Zach Lasry’s “Seth” (2016 SXSW Official Selection, Vimeo Staff Pick), and Jim Cummings’ “The Robbery” (2017 Sundance Official Premiere). He also lensed Super Deluxe’s/Dean Fleisher-Camp’s web series “David” (Vimeo Staff Pick) – starring Nathan Fielder and Jenny Slate – as well as two episodes of Fullscreen’s “The Minutes” web series. In addition to his narrative work, he has shot multiple commercials and branded content for Microsoft, Macy’s, Nike, Vice, Hungryman, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, Sandwich Video, Portal A, and Participant Media, as well as music videos for Beirut, Watsky, MUNA, Nervo, and Stanton Warriors. His PSA “Is History Repeating Itself?” – executive produced by Katy Perry and co-directed by Aya Tanimura and Tim Nackashi of Black Dog Films – was featured on CNN, The LA Times, and The Huffington Post. And his latest commercial for Sandwich Video entitled “Computer Show – HP PageWide” was featured on  Visit his website for links to his work and reel at


Sam Fuller is an editor living in Los Angeles with a bachelor's in Film & Television Production from NYU. Most recently he cut Chance The Rapper's Magnificent Coloring World 2. He also writes screenplays and makes shorts, which have garnered 6 million views online and earned a Vimeo Staff Pick. In his spare time he likes to think about story structure and breakfast.


Andi Dervishi (assistant director) was raised in San Diego after immigrating from Albania, Andi fell in love with filmmaking and screenwriting form a young age. In high school he wrote and directed a short film that won Best Drama and Best of the Fest awards at the San Diego Student Film Festival. Earning his BFA from NYU in 2008, Andi majored in Film and TV Production with a minor in Broadcast Journalism. He studied abroad in London apprenticing with the BBC on a weekly non-fiction series. While in school, he interned at Lion TV, Cinetic Media, and The Weinstein Company. Upon graduating Andi worked as Writer for NBC News in San Diego and then Marketing Coordinator at the distributor Kino Lorber / Lorber Films in NYC. Andi now freelances in Los Angeles. The more time he spends outdoors the happier he feels. The ocean is his church.

Simran Mahal (Line Producer) Prior to falling in love with the field of producing, Simran was formerly a cook at Gramercy Tavern and Mailalino in New York of the illustrious Danny Meyer empire. She even had a stint aspiring to be a butcher's apprentice at Marlow & Daughters, and before that as a surgical coordinator. Raised and currently based in the Bay Area, she works with the creative production company Scandinavia Films.

Eloise Ayala (Production Designer) studied fine art at the Academy of Art in San Francisco with a focus on technical drawing and illustration, and lated studied theater history at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, with a focus on Shakespeare and American theater. Her work has been featured on HBO, Cannes, Slamdance, SXSW and in theatrical releases in Los Angeles and the west coast. 
Becca Inez (Chef) will be flying in to feed and care for our crew from Marfa, Texas, where she is currently the Sous Chef at the Hotel Saint George. Prior to that gig, you may have tasted her food when she was the Head Chef at Paper or Plastik Cafe in Los Angeles.


Wild Obscura Films is an independent production company focused on creating content by, for, and about women. Striving for the complex, the dark, the unexpected, Wild Obscura plans to revolutionize the modern cinematic experience and its conception of the female gaze. Their goal is to bring light to new voices previously unheard and unseen through narrative material.


Current Team