New Orleans, Louisiana | Film Short

Drama, Experimental

Marion Leigh Forbes

2 Campaigns | Louisiana, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $4,530 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

40 supporters | followers

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Canary is a film about mental health and the creative process. After a stay in the hospital, Hazel is inspired to paint for the first time in a long time. Once she is ready to start, she finds that the little voice in the back of her head is actually someone else talking - someone from her past.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

We wanted to create a film that explores past experiences of struggling with mental health (after major endings or family loss) and how you can work with those moments instead of against them. We as a team subscribe to the phrase, "The only way out is through" and see art through this lens.

The Story

Canary: a short film 

(Image by Brett Felty)


Canary is a psychological drama centering around a young painter, Hazel, during a difficult period in her life. Hazel struggles with anxiety and depression. After a serious break-up triggers a downward spiral, she is hospitalized briefly and sent home with new anxiety medication. Hazel tries to establish a new creative rhythm for herself at home but finds that once she finally sits down to paint, the little doubting voice in the back of her head returns - but this time, the voice belongs to someone else. 


(Image by Unknown)

Hazel - A bright, intelligent artist who can, occasionally, get trapped in her own imagination - this can come in handy in her art, but often gets in the way of things, especially when it comes to her anxiety. She is finding it hard to move on from her unresolved grief surrounding her last relationship with Kory.

Kory - A focused, intense artist-type who is more concerned with his own image than with the well being of those he is closest to.


This short film is about mental health and the creative process and how we create through pain or struggles instead of around it. As a team, we believe the phrase, “The only way out is through”, aptly describes how we create in our respective fields on a regular basis. For me, personally, I couple this phrase with, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”, which is loosely adapted in the film as a phrase that Hazel returns to time and again.

We believe this story is worth telling because we as filmmakers want to see more stories that delve into the realm of the psyche and explore how trauma and difficult moments in life can affect our creative pursuits. I want to explore ways in which the audience can experience Hazel’s turbulence and struggles with her.

We are currently in pre-production for this project with the goal of shooting at the end of January 2022. This campaign will help us move through production and into post-production on the project. Though we are working diligently on being as prepared and organized as possible, we will need your support to make it to the finish line!

Inspiration for Canary:

Canary draws inspiration from the Director’s life as well as visual inspiration from many filmmakers and painters. Paintings by Vermeer and Schjerfbeck invoke visual qualities that we want Hazel’s world to carry. In Vermeer’s painting Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, ca. 1657, we see a painting that provides a glimpse into a young woman’s inner world.

(Painting by Vermeer)

There is an immediacy to the painting, much like photography provides, that implies that we have caught a moment as it is happening in real-time. There is a romantic quality to Vermeer’s work in the layering of texture and light, that we imagine Hazel’s home will also hold.

Similar to Vermeer, the Finnish painter Helene Schjerfbeck painted real moments in her life with a layering of textures and charming adjustments to the imagery to better serve the subject. Dancing Shoes, ca. 1882, is a painting of her cousin getting ready for dance class. The shoes and the girl are quite detailed yet the painting holds an overall nostalgic quality to it, as if it were a memory.

(Painting by Schjerfbeck)

In later parts of the film, brooding elements come forward and affect Hazel’s space. We intend to explore surrealist special effects to create a dark substance that slowly envelops Hazel’s desk and art as Kory’s negativity seeps into her subconscious. We are contrasting the style and tone of Hazel’s space and this invasive element to emphasize the jarring nature of the substance at this particular point in the film. For this portion, we look to ceramicist Jun Kaneko’s work for it’s haunting nature.

(Installation by Jun Kaneko)

As a team, we draw inspiration from these paintings to help create overall design concepts for Hazel’s space as well as our approach to lighting and cinematography. We are also working closely with a friend and colleague who will act as our art consultant as well as the painter for the film. He will make unique paintings for Hazel inspired by the very ones we studied together. 


We ask that you join us in helping create Hazel’s world for the film, Canary.


What we need:

Our goal is to build a set in order to control lighting, sound, and design within Hazel’s space. The walls need to be flexible and moveable as we move deeper into her story and her mental state. This level of control will allow us to explore the subjective nature of mental illness in creative ways. We are working with a talented Production Designer and fellow student at the University of New Orleans (UNO) and will build the set and film on the UNO Soundstage. 

We will be paying our principal talent for their work on this film as well as a talented, local make-up artist, a visual effects artist, and a musical composer. All of these roles are crucial to the overall look and feel of the film and bringing the characters and the sets to life. For student productions, we rely on the generosity of the crew who are volunteering their time away from school and work to help create this short film.



Because Covid is still alive and well in our lives, we will be providing masks and sanitizing stations for our crew to remain as safe and vigilant as possible. The University of New Orleans has Covid protocols for all student productions that we will also follow diligently to ensure the safety and well being of our cast and crew. We will have an assigned crew member to help make sure that all cast and crew comply with our safety precautions throughout production. Your support of our campaign will help ensure that all of these precautions are implemented thoroughly and effectively throughout the entire production and post production of Canary.


Stretch Goals:

Our goal is to raise $4000 for basic needs for the production of Canary. Our stretch goals would allow for contingency in construction of the set as well as any extra needs we might have during production in January. $5000 would allow for 25% contingency to cover additional material costs, rental costs, and ensuring plenty of food throughout production. $6000 would begin to get us into post-production territory by covering time and effort by our VFX artist, musical composer, and editor. Any amount over our initial goal of $4000 will be incredible and will get us closer to achieving a wonderful final product.

(Image by Marion Forbes)

Sustainability and Accountability:

For as much as we care about  mental health and creating safe, creative spaces, we want to make sure that we are doing our part to take care of the planet as well.

Through the entirety of the pre-production, production, and post-production process of Canary, we will be tracking and monitoring energy-use, waste, and carbon output (specifically during production) to better understand the impact the film industry has on the environment, even at a small scale. We are hoping that, by tracking our energy use now, we can make informed energy and environmental decisions in the future as we embark on our filmmaking careers.

We are working with PATH water to provide refillable water bottles during production to minimize waste on set. We find that single-use plastic is one of the biggest waste contributors on film sets, and we wanted to find a way to mitigate that kind of waste on our set. PATH bottles are one of the only water bottles on the market that are not made of plastic and can be refilled/reused/recycled almost indefinitely. We are also working with local chef, Kora Jansen of House of Slop, to provide vegan and vegetarian meals for the cast and crew over the three day shoot and will also ensure the use of entirely compostable materials for meals and crafty.

After wrapping production, we will work to account for our energy-use and consumption, working closely with a carbon accounting specialist. From there our goal is to offset our carbon expense through planting trees, composting our food waste, and purchasing offsets from verified sources.

When We Wrap:

After we finish production, we’ll immediately move into post production for the film. We have a vigorous editing schedule in order to allow the most amount of time for our editor, VFX artist, and composer to work on the final touches of the film. After we finish our final cut, our goal is to submit the film to festivals to share our story with, not only those who pledged to our campaign, but with a larger audience as well. We hope to share the story with as many people as possible in addition to sharing the film with those of you that helped make this dream a reality.

Thank you so much for visiting our page and contributing to our vision. We can’t wait to share Hazel’s world with you and start production on Canary!

(Image by Brett Felty)

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There is more than one way to help along our journey! 

  1. Follow our campaign and share the link with your friends and family!
  2. Follow our team on social media channels to get regular updates from the filmmakers (@leforbusier, @brettfelty, @thatgirlyouknowfromthatthing) 
  3. Keep following the campaign! Regular visits to your campaign page will keep you up to date and will increase our chances of getting featured on their site.


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

Production Design

Costs $1,500

We will be building a small set to better control lighting, sound, and design within Hazel's space.

Visual Effects

Costs $1,000

We will use three key moments of VFX to enhance Hazel's surreal state of being throughout the film.


Costs $600

We will pay our two actors for their time over the film's three day production.

House of Slop & Crafty

Costs $600

We want to feed our crew and utilize the talents of local chef, Kora of House of Slop to help!

Hair, Makeup, & Wardrobe

Costs $200

We need to dress our actors!

Art Supplies

Costs $100

We will need to fill Hazel's space with supplies and provide our art consultant the tools he needs.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team

Canary’s team is  made of University of New Orleans film students - both graduate level and undergraduate level - and local filmmakers and producers from the New Orleans area. 

Marion Forbes

(Writer & Director) - Marion received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Tennessee, College of Architecture and Design in 2014. At Tennessee, she also received a minor in Bassoon Performance from the University's School of Music. Combining her two majors, Marion shaped her design thesis around the idea of sound in the built environment, exploring design through musical structure and end-user experience of architectural space. Her design was rooted just south of New Orleans, Louisiana atop an abandoned oil structure near Chandeleur Sound. Marion has worked professionally as a designer for over 8 years with many talented architects and designers in Tennessee, Connecticut, and Louisiana. In the Fall of 2020, Marion became an MFA candidate and Graduate Assistant at the University of New Orleans focusing on Film Production. Marion takes an interdisciplinary approach to filmmaking and design - drawing from experience as a musician, printmaker, weaver, and long time film lover. Her stories center around small moments in life that can have an oversized and, sometimes, surprising impact. 

Canary is very much a film that encapsulates Marion’s background and interests in filmmaking. In previous short films, Marion’s focus was on the story and working with the basics of film production. In this film, Marion’s interest is to bring people into the headspace of a character visually, representing traditionally insular emotional states that can affect the way one sees the world around them.

Marion's previous short films, Timbre and Artifacts, can be seen on the independent streaming service iNDIEFLIX. 

Brett Felty

(Producer & Director of Photography): Brett Felty is a writer and filmmaker raised in Macon, Georgia and now based in New Orleans, Louisiana. He founded the DIY film collective Nobody’s Empire in Los Angeles, California and the music video production company Young Lungs Films in Nashville, Tennessee. He has written for Psymposia Magazine, the Southern Education Desk, and the 11th Hour. Brett has collaborated widely, working as a Producer, Director of Photography, Production Designer, Gaffer, and Editor. He has a passion for stories which transmute and order the chaos, suffering, and uncertainty of modern life into a hopeful framework, especially concerning poor and working-class people.

Current Team