New York City, New York | Film Short

Comedy, Musical

Jake Wichansky

1 Campaigns | New York, United States

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Irrational is an NYU Thesis Film written and directed by Jake Wichansky with music & lyrics by Joey Contreras. The film is a musical-comedy about a high school senior who, after ten years of practice without much success, competes in her final high-stakes pi memorization tournament.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

Irrational's grand musical numbers and humorous characters all serve an important message: it is okay to fail. Irrational will remind and reassure audiences that it is okay to have fun without needing to be great; there is no need to be the best at everything you do.

The Story

The story of Irrational is based on my experience in Marching Band, Speech & Debate, and, most specifically, Fencing. All three were activities I participated in for many years, but I never seemed to improve much at any of them. This was especially frustrating with fencing, as by my senior year of high school, I had been fencing for a decade, longer than anyone else on the team. Despite this, and all of the practice and work I put in to improve, I would often lose bouts to freshman fencers who had only held a blade for the first time a few weeks earlier. I became immensely frustrated with my lack of improvement despite all my practice, but after thinking back to why I loved the sport of fencing in the first place, I was able to learn to enjoy the sport despite my lack of skill. For the final couple months of my fencing career, I fenced for fun without worrying about winning or losing, but it took a long time, and a lot of frustration, for me to get to that point.

The movies I was watching at the time reinforced that frustration. Films like Whiplash depicted the underdog working hard and finally coming out on top. Even in films like Rocky and Creed, where the protagonists lose in the end, they still improve immensely and impress everyone. I was not seeing any films where the protagonist works really hard, does not improve much at all, and then is still happy in the end. After I started focusing on the fun of fencing, I began to wonder why so few films encourage audiences to accept that they may not ever get better at something they love. On the surface, it sounds like a depressing message, but being able to accept what is likely a reality for many people might help them feel better, just as learning that lesson did for me.

Irrational is the film I wish I saw when I was younger. I want audiences to leave the film feeling okay about making mistakes and not improving at something. If I had seen Irrational when I was in high school, my time as a fencer, musician, and forensicator would have been much more enjoyable. Everyone has something they love that they might not be great at. And that's okay.

JULIA WHITCHER as Claudia Geckle

Claudia Geckle is a driven yet hopelessly optimistic high school senior who has dreamed of being the Pi Memorization World Champion since she was eight years old. Since then, she has spent day and night working to memorize as many digits as possible, but her skills plateaued very early on, and despite ten years of practice, Claudia is unable to even defeat competitors who have only been practicing a few weeks. Claudia is conscious of the fact that she is not good at memorizing pi, but she is not prepared to confront the idea that she has been dedicating her entire life to an impossible pursuit. Every tournament, she convinces herself that this will be the one where she will win. So far, it has never happened.

JULIA WHITCHER is an NYC based actor and is currently studying at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting through NYU Tisch. She hails from Denver, Colorado, and truthfully prefers baking pie over memorizing it. Julia is so excited to be going back to her musical theater roots for this project, and could not be more grateful to be working with such a stellar group of people. She can’t wait to bring Claudia and the world of Irrational to life!


Maxine Geckle is Claudia's older sister, and she has recently been selected for the U.S. Olympic Volleyball team. Maxine is uncomfortable with the fame she has gotten. When she was a kid, she was excited about it, but now it just makes her anxious.  Maxine misses when playing volleyball came with less pressure to be great. She misses when it could be fun. Maxine works very hard and cares very much about volleyball, but she wishes other people would care a little less. She feels bad about the fact that Claudia seems to be growing up in her shadow, and she hates that Claudia resents her, but she doesn’t blame Claudia. Maxine loves her sister and would do anything to make her happy, and she feels guilty about getting more attention from their parents than Claudia does.

ALESSANDRA ANTONELLI is an NYC based actress, singer, dancer, and choreographer. She recently received her BFA from NYU Tisch Drama with a Minor in Dance, and is signed with DDO Artists Agency for VoiceOver. She adores musicals, films, and musical films, and is honored to be a collaborator on Irrational!

DENIS LAMBERT as Matheson Tottertips

Matheson Tottertips is an eccentric pi memorization tutor with no friends, no family, and no life outside of his occasional tutoring work. He wants to present as wealthy, and he acts like a celebrity, but due to his niche occupation, he has started to run low on funds. After he trained Lydia Garrison for a few days, she would go on to become the Youth Pi Memorization National Champion, and Matheson gained a lot of fame in the pi memorization community. He now resents Lydia for not giving him enough credit for how much he helped her, and he hopes to one day train a new challenger who will dethrone Lydia. Once Matheson begins training Claudia, he hopes he has found the one that will be able to defeat his former student.

DENIS LAMBERT appeared in the Broadway productions of A Chorus Line and Doctor Zhivago and in the National Touring productions of White Christmas, A Chorus Line and The Producers. His New York credits include three shows at New York City Center, Carnegie Hall, York Theatre, Dying City and The Wild Party. His regional credits include the Hollywood Bowl, Kennedy Center, Dallas Theater Center, Paper Mill Playhouse, Pittsburgh CLO, Asolo Rep, Syracuse Stage, Berkshire Theatre Group, Walnut Street Theatre, Music Theatre of Wichita, Hudson Stage, Finger Lakes and The Lex. Denis' television and film credits include Modern Love (Amazon), The Professor, An Urnest Attempt, Micro Lovo, What Dreams May Come and Guilty. He holds a MA in Classical Acting from LAMDA and a BFA Musical Theatre from CCM. Denis is also an audiobook narrator and the creator and host of The Voracious Student podcast.

SARA LOCASALE as Lydia Garrison

Lydia Garrison loves life. She has painted numerous paintings that are now featured in museums around the country, she started two non-profit organizations, and she is the Youth Pi Memorization National Champion, all before finishing her sophomore year of high school. Her talents come naturally to her, and she really enjoys everything she does. She desperately wants to face off against a challenging pi memorization opponent, as she has won all of her recent competitions with ease, diminishing the fun of the events. Lydia takes her talent for granted; she knows that other people work harder than her, and she is genuinely unsure of why nobody else has been able to rise to her level. She is not a very competitive person, and while she definitely prefers to win, she does not care much about being the best despite the fact that she is. She just wants to have fun.

SARA LOCASALE is a child actor. Most recently she can be found playing Minnie in the short film Pestle. Filmed in Orient, NY, it was directed by Sophie Knobler and produced by Mariel Neto. She was also cast as Belle in The Wee Which Project and directed by Caledonia Curry in Bronx, NY. Sara is no stranger to the spotlight. She has trained at Cygnus Creative Arts Centre for 9 years where she trained under professional dancers. Further trained at Atlantic City Ballet where she was cast in professional productions of The Nutcracker and Cinderella at Caesers Casino in Atlantic City, NJ and other local theaters throughout NJ. Her other hobbies include playing field hockey, singing and being a member of her school's orchestra as a violinist. She currently resides in NJ with her parents and younger sister.

We will be shooting from April 15th-20th in New Jersey and New York after holding dance and performance rehearsals throughout March! We will be following COVID safety protocols, including crew wearing masks throughout the production and having a fully vaccinated set, to ensure that everyone stays safe.

Currently, we are preparing to record the music with the cast, and we're finalizing the dance choreography that will be featured in the film!

We need your help to make Irrational a reality! Check out the incentives on this page if you're interested in supporting the project. Don't forget to follow our page on Seed&Spark, as well as our Instagram page @irrationalmusical, to stay updated on the film!

To reach our goal, we will need to expand our network. You can help make sure Irrational reaches its goal by sharing our campaign! Feel free to copy and paste from the examples below.


I'm so excited to see @irrationalmusical, a movie-musical short film by @jakewicha! Join them on @seedandspark:


I love listening to Opening Number from @irrationalmusical! Hear the song and support the project at


Help filmmaker @jakewicha by supporting his upcoming movie-musical IRRATIONAL, which follows a high school senior who competes in her final high-stakes pi memorization competition! Join them at


Head over to "The Team" page for more information about our incredible crew!


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


Costs $1,720

We will need to buy food for our amazing cast, crew, and dancers on each day of the shoot.

Equipment Rentals

Costs $1,750

We will be renting some equipment to help bring the film's visuals/sound to the highest level.


Costs $3,300

We will need to transport our cast, crew, and equipment to and from each location.

Other Costs

Costs $1,000

Other costs include health & safety supplies and additional production expenses.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0


Costs $2,750

We need several locations for the film, including a school where the pi tournaments will take place.

Production Design/Props

Costs $1,480

We will need props and materials to decorate each set to fully realize the world of the film.

About This Team

Jake Wichansky - Director, Writer, Editor, Producer

Jake Wichansky is a filmmaker from Randolph, New Jersey who has written and directed over twenty short films, of which many have screened at multiple film festivals, as well as the feature film Gentleman, which recently screened at the New York Lift-Off Film Festival and the Newark International Film Festival. Having always dreamed of making a musical, and after writing a deeply personal script, Jake is incredibly excited to bring the world of Irrational to life. Irrational fits in with the other comedies Jake has directed in the past, taking an absurd world and treating it with warmth and genuine emotion.


Joey Contreras - Composer, Lyricist

Joey Contreras is a New York based, Mexican-American musical theatre and pop songwriter, internationally known for his various projects, performances and studio album releases, amassing millions of streams. He is a Fred Ebb Award finalist, a two-time Jonathan Larson Grant finalist, and an alum from the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project and NYU Grad MT Writing Program. His musicals with bookwriter/lyricist, Kate Thomas, include All The Kids Are Doing It (Provincetown Playhouse, Tisch, IWU, O’Neill NMTC Finalist), Forget Me Not (Open Jar Institute, NYU, The Dare Tactic) and Elements.  He is the composer of Heartbreakers in Hell, a modern day adaptation of Dante’s Inferno written with bookwriter/lyricist Benjamin Halstead.  Additionally, he has composed for the Walt Disney Company, and various short films. He regularly teaches songwriting through private coaching and group master classes at universities and theatre programs worldwide.

Ailina Dohn - Choreographer

Ailina Dohn (Uh-Lee-Nah) is from California and is a Junior in Tisch Film & TV. She has competitively danced for 8+ years winning Top 10 in the nation. Her training includes classical ballet, jazz contemporary, and musical theater. You can catch her watching action films anytime. She loves to see visual storytelling conveyed in amazing fight choreography and VFX! Here at NYU, her top passions are cinematography, dance, and stunts.

Shirley Sui - Producer

Shirley Sui has been making films for eight years. She is an award-winning writer-director, and she has also produced many student films. Shirley's first film, Please, was finalist in the All American High School Film Festival in Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Actress, and it was in Official Selections of Dance with Films Film Festival and screened at the TCL Chinese Theatre. Her films have won US Hollywood International Film Festival: Special Jury Award, Busan International Kids&Youth Film Festival 2017: Audience Award & Pure Wind Award, and Idyllwild Arts Film and Digital Media Department Best Producer Award & Best Screenplay Award. She was also nominated for The Mary Austin Award for her Excellence in Producing for the short film Standpoint.

Sebastian Martinez - Producer

Sebastian Martinez is a third-year Film/TV major at Tisch, concentrating specifically on screenwriting and producing! In addition, he is constantly honing his comedy as he is the co-head of NYU’s premier sketch group Comic Sans while also a member of NYU’s improv team Home Improvment!

Toby Romero - Director of Photography

Toby Romero is a Cinematographer based in New York City and Los Angeles. He has worked on numerous narrative films, commercials, documentary, and experimental shoots taking him from places like Tel Aviv, Israel to Ketchikan, Alaska. Toby is no stranger to the spotlight. His work has been featured by US News, selected multiple times for NYU’s showcases, and screened at festivals around the world. He’s been accepted for a fellowship with Ghetto Film School and a four year internship with Warner Bros. leading him to his work on the Netflix show Fuller House. His Norwegian and Latino background help influence his unique visual style. He strives to work with a range of people and doesn’t allow one single genre to confine him as he continues to present his name and reputation in the industry. When he’s not on set, Toby can be found in the ocean surfing or on the mountain snowboarding.

Lola Verhulst - Production Designer

Lola Verhulst is a NYC raised and based production designer in her final year at NYU Tisch for film and television. Throughout her schooling, Lola has worked on several short films. Her most recent work includes the 2006 period piece Red Skies, a short funded by the Modern Military Association focusing around the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell laws.

Alexander Zinn - Assistant Director

Alexander Zinn is many things: a Tisch film/tv senior, a math minor, and Jake Wichansky’s roommate; but above all else, he’s a spreadsheet wizard, which is why he’s Assistant Directing this project. Beyond that, he’s interested in food… and other things?  Things like the great outdoors and even greater indoors. He’s been a drone photographer for state parks and national forests; an Amazon Best-Selling author; and a gamer with continual Pokemon double battles dominance to his name. He’s got a cool scar on his neck which he falsely claims as being from a pirate attack. Born and raised in San Antonio, he’s a lifelong Spurs & Gregg Popovich fan, knows that beans don’t go in chili, and feels that enchiladas are underrated. Ultimately, he’s just some guy who occasionally does things—he has no idea what he wants to do with his career, but he’ll figure it out.

Sophia Hiller - Casting Director

Sophia is a recent graduate from NYU Tisch School of the Arts with a bachelor’s degree in Film & TV post-production, and an additional focus in casting and business operations. She uses her company, Hiller Castings, as an outlet to help her connect people through transferral of her skills. Sophia has also edited everything from commercial to narrative works. Jake's project is just one of the many projects that align with her vision and Sophia is super excited to help bring the vision to life.

Maddy Freeman - Line Producer

Born and raised in New Jersey, Maddy Freeman is a film director, producer, and writer. She is currently an undergraduate student earning her BFA in Film and Television at New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Maddy has directed multiple award-winning short films. Among her most recently recognized films are Appetite (2020), Because I Love Him (2019), Interview (2019), and Turn Off (2019). In addition to He Made His Bed, Maddy is currently producing her debut feature, which she co-wrote and will be directing. While in high school, Maddy created numerous commercials, documentaries, montages, and short videos for local and international clients and corporations. During that time, Maddy worked on many creative pieces, including short films and web series, and she continues to work on such projects today. Maddy was recently brought on to direct a project for Hooked, where she directed and edited a short narrative film to stream on their platforms. She is also the founder and CEO of her production company, Uncharted Productions, LLC.

Tess Rechtweg - Associate Producer, Social Media Manager

Tess Rechtweg is a first-year Film and TV student, intending to concentrate in producing and directing. Prior to her matriculation at NYU, she worked on her high school productions, including theater and film. Tess was the photography editor for the award-winning Horizon, her high school’s newspaper, and was awarded an Empire State School Press Association Award.

Drew Meyers - Production Assistant

Drew is a senior at Randolph High School who has been involved in the film program for the past 4 years. Drew has committed to Emerson for a major in Media Arts Production with a focus on Film. He is currently working on his short film “Was it Worth it?”.

Current Team