Knee High

Des Moines, Iowa | Film Feature

Drama, Family

Marissa Vonn

1 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $11,600 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

85 supporters | followers

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After a monumental loss, it's hard to see a way forward. Cal Melbourne is lost in his grief, looking for a light to guide him to a better life for himself and his son. We all know how isolating that can be. Help us show people they aren't alone in their journey.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

Our close knit team is working to show the authentic and often overlooked side of small town life. We are hoping to shine a light on how patriarchal structures impact all and how they can deeply hinder the grieving process by stigmatizing emotional and mental health.

The Story


Our small team wants to tell an impactful story.

We believe that every great film starts with a solid story that resonates with a wide variety of people. After making the short, we realized people were hungry for something that felt down to earth and distinctly Midwestern. Expanding the world of Knee High to include grief and uncertainty about the future feels right and we are excited to bring you all along on the journey!

Here's part of our cast and crew at basecamp after wrapping the short. (Yes, our basecamp had a semi-cab parked in it!)

Front row - left to right: Sound mixer John Hennessey Baker, Cinematographer Bruce James Bales

Back row - left to right: Grip Jeremy Williams, First AD Emily McCurdy, Director Marissa Vonn, Gaffer Spencer Michael Smith, Cal/Producer Michael Ridley, Grip Matt Boyles


We are producing this film in Iowa because it’s our favorite state!

We love making films here. The state has a wealth of stories to be told and a deep well of talent to work with. It’s a beautiful state with four seasons (sometimes all in a day!), a gorgeous landscape, and the most humble people you’ve ever met. It’s the perfect playground for a filmmaker and we’re so excited to bring this story to life there.




This film is anchored by authentic characters. It deals with grief, uncertainty, and shifting family dynamics.



Cal is kind, industrious, and stubborn. He’s watching his world crumble and has no idea what to do. His grandfather just passed, his ex and their son have moved to the city, the family farm is being foreclosed on, and he has no clear path forward.

The film follows him over the rolling hills of grief and watches as he searches for answers.



The film will be visually and tonally similar to “The Rider” and “Minari”.

Landscapes and rich colors will anchor this story and keep viewers in the Melbourne world. We are honored to work with DP, Bruce James Bales, to tell this story.



We have locked our script, begun securing locations, and are deep in pre-production.

We start production this fall and would be honored to have your support in making this story shine.



Your support will help us secure lenses, house cast, feed our team well, and expand our production and wardrobe design budget. It will also help cover necessary insurance and Covid safety measures.


COVID-19: We all know Covid has thrown the film industry for a loop. We will be working safely and following all SAG Return to Work protocols at the time of production. 



My name is Marissa Vonn and I am the Writer-Director of Knee High. Thank you so much for taking the time to consider this film. I sincerely appreciate every person who reviews this campaign and am grateful for the time you dedicated to do so.

Knee High is a film that is close to my heart because it is set in my home state; Iowa. This film tells a story that feels authentic, despite its fictional roots. Every character is reminiscent of someone you know, and that’s exactly why I feel audiences will connect to it. We all know, or are part of, a Melbourne family.

This story fell into place while on a quest for good pizza with my dad (it's at Torino's in Fairfield, if you're curious) where we were talking about farming and how family farms operate. Real life and real life problems always make me think about the things that could happen and talking about how farms change hands made me imagine how a young person would handle that responsibilty. At the time, I had a scene playing in my head that didn't have a story yet (writer brain is weird) and after a few hours, I realized this was it's story. The scene in my head was of a dad carrying a little kid in a farmer costume across a parking lot while mom watched. You can see that scene in our short film. I always knew the story had more to it and it was easy to find once the characters came to life in the short. 

The grounded world of Knee High is one that takes a special kind of care to craft. I'm extremely honored to have the perfect team crafting this world with me and bringing this story to the screen. We are excited to sink into this world that feels like home and tell this story. 

I hope that you will join us in shining a light on our favorite flyover state and all of its unique stories. This film would benefit immensely from your support and we'd be honored to have it.

Thank you! 



Our team has done a LOT of work together. We've made five short films and an episode of an amazing webseries. Each project has leveled up our production skills, our communication, and our ability to solve any problem that filmmaking throws our way. This team is caring, passionate, a little scrappy, talented, and most of all dedicated. We are dedicated to giving this story the space it needs to breathe and doing what it takes to bring this story to life in an authintic way. You can see some of our past work together below!

Next of Kin (2021)

Domicile (2020)

Knee High (2019)

Recess (2018)



Our goal is set at $10,000. This will get us through production.

Our stretch goal is $15,000.

With the additional $5,000, we will sail through post and get submitted to our dream festivals. Every dollar over our original goal will go towards costs that will come once the camera stops rolling. Post production is a beast of it's own and we'd love to have the ability to get our film straight into the edit bay when we wrap. Reaching our stretch goal would put us in a great position to do that!



Please share our campaign with anyone you think would connect with a film like this! 

Feel free to copy and paste these texts on your favorite social media:


Join me in supporting @KneeHighFilm on @SeedAndSpark ! #KneeHighFilm follows a young father as he deals with grief, co-parenting, and trying to take on the family farm. Join them on @seedandspark:


Join me in supporting #KneeHighFilm by @marissavonn on @SeedAndSpark!  Find them here:


Join me in supporting #KneeHighFilm by @marissavonn on @SeedAndSpark ! #KneeHighFilm follows a young father as he deals with grief, co-parenting, and trying to take on the family farm. Join them on @seedandspark:



Tell your friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors about Knee High.

Share our posts, campaign page, and our supporter updates! Make sure to use our #KneeHighFilm hashtag and tag us @KneeHighFilm!

Regular visits to our Seed&Spark page keep you in the know AND increase our chances of being featured on the site!



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

Feed the Cast and Crew

Costs $2,500

We want to fuel our cast and crew with good, local food!


Costs $2,500

We are bringing in a few out of towers and need to house them somewhere safe and comfortable.


Costs $1,500

We want this film to look and feel a certain way. Cooke Lenses are the way to achieve this!


Costs $1,000

We will be safe, but just in case something goes awry, we want to have protection.

Hard Drives

Costs $2,000

We gotta store the movie somewhere...three times over!

Personal Protective Equipment

Costs $500

Covid is still rampant and we will need to protect our cast and crew.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team


This team has been through it all! We have created 5 short films together and Knee High will be our first feature length film together. The films we've made together have screened at festivals worldwide and our friendships have grown stronger since starting. There is no better crew to bring this story to life and we are excited to get back on set together!


Marissa Vonn - Writer/Director


Marissa loves telling compelling stories with moments that tug on your heartstrings. Family tales, cerebral dramas, and anything with an authentic lead are Marissa’s favorite projects. She has a passion for creating complex roles that challenge actors and loves collaborating with her crew.


Michael Ridley - Producer/Actor


Michael is an actor born in Milwaukee and raised in Denver. He loves sinking into roles and discovering the character's history alongside the director and fellow cast members. He is passionate about finding the heart of every story and making it evident on screen. Michael is acting as a producer on this film and also carries a "Story by" credit for the work he did in the script's development stages.


Bruce James Bales - Cinematographer


Bruce is always interested in serving the story; finding out what moves people, what brings them closer together, and what makes them ask questions. Crafting an engaging and emotional visual language is his goal, along with being a clear communicator and collaborator. 


Kalena Clarkson - Associate Producer


Kalena is an absolute force. She does whatever it takes to help bring stories to life and knows that sometimes the easiest way to support someone is a hot cup of coffee. She is joyous and driven and always brings an amazing energy to set. Kalena started her film career in recent years and we are excited for her to step into a new role with us on this feature!


 Dakota Carpenter - Production Designer


Dakota has an incredible eye for design and the way a space should feel. They also know how to make an outfit feel authentic and look great on camera. Dakota knows how to get things done without compromising a great attitude and a level head. We're so honored to have them on our team and can't wait to watch their skills elevate this film!


Current Team