Paper Birds, Film Production Fund

Oakland, California | Film Short

Action, Drama

Lauren Finerman

1 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $13,560 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

106 supporters | followers

Enter the amount you would like to pledge


Paper Birds is a dramatic short film that takes us to a crucial moment in the history of American entertainment: the intersection of circus and television in the 1950s. The story is told through the lens of a female protagonist and mostly female cast led by female Writer & Director, Lauren Finerman.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

By supporting women filmmakers, and movies with strong female leads, you support fresh and compelling perspectives often ignored by film studios. Both our cast and crew hail from all corners of the world and represent a new picture of cinema in America where inclusiveness is respected and honored.

The Story

Paper Birds focuses on a unique moment in time and the intersection of two very different worlds: the fading era of the traditional American circus and the rise of television.



The year is 1951, and the Champy Family Circus faces imminent foreclosure unless its famous trapeze artist, Charles Champy, and his brother, Bernard Champy, can save it. When Charles loses his trapeze partner to an unfortunate injury, it looks as if they will have to cancel a very crucial New York City show. When Bernard seeks the advice of longtime friend, Danny Duval, a talent agent at William Morris, a solution arises that will have polarizing results: enlist a TV starlets to draw attention to the Champy Circus.



Virginia Day is a beautiful TV starlet in her 20s who has big aspirations but has just been written off her TV show. Danny sees the circus as the perfect opportunity to get Virginia’s face back in the spotlight and her name back in the papers. The only catch is she’ll have to join the circus while they’re here in New York. The heart of the story takes place between Charles and Virginia, as they learn to co-exist from opposite schools of thought. Charles is reluctant to accept change or sacrifice the integrity of traditional circus artistry. He’s been selling the same tired show for over a decade. Virginia thinks the Champy’s should embrace the new age of television and considers her artistry just as valid and important as his.



Meanwhile, An impending merger threatens the future partnership of the circus as Bernard must make quick decisions on how to keep the show financially afloat. A nervous, introverted man, Bernard is easily manipulated by those trying to make a dollar off his hardships. He negotiates risky business terms that hang the legacy of the family circus, and his relationship with his brother, in the balance. Trying to work in secret, Bernard makes great effort to cover his tracks and come up with the money to pay back their debt.



Our portrayal of this world focuses less on the spectacle of the circus, but of the real and gritty struggles that take place behind the curtains. We are close and intimate with our characters as we follow them on their journey to stay relevant.



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

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Custom Built Trapeze Rig

Costs $7,500

We are building a custom trapeze rig to fit the tent with Trapeze Arts Oakland - one of the most professional and safest companies around.

1950s Trapeze Costume

Costs $2,000

Custom built 1950s trapeze costumes. $200 per talent for 10 talent.

Vintage Hair Stylist

Costs $500

We want every aspect of this film to be authentic, and we cannot complete that without a hair stylist who specializes in hair of the era.

About This Team


We are excited to announce our cast! 

LA actress Anna Maiche will be starring as TV starlett Virgina Day, an out-on-her-luck TV actress trying to make a come back in the spotlight. We will follow Virginia as she enters the strange world of the circus and learns that winning over her trapeze partner proves even more difficult than learning the flying trapeze 30 feet in the air. Anna is currently training in flying trapeze lessons for the role.


Her co-star, Ryan Winkles, will play the hardened trapeze star, Charles Champy who refuses to accept an outsider into his families circus. He sees Virginia as a symbol for the the very thing putting his circus out of business: the TV industry. Ryan is a flying trapeze performer, teacher and actor from Boston.


Sarah Al-Kassab plays circus veteran Betty St. James who keeps a watchful and judgmental eye on outsider Virginia Day.


Teddy Spencer plays Bernard Champy, Charles' meek younger brother and circus manager whose trying to keep the circus alive, even at risky costs.


Andrew Spach is the shady William Morris talent agent whose manipulating both Virginia and the Champy Brothers.


Olta Desiderio plays Ivana, the Russian trained trapeze artist whose performed with Charles Champy for years. Her devastating injury spurs the Champy Family Circus to bring in TV starlet Virginia Day.

Lizzie O'Hara plays Shirley, the young circus performer whose made it her job to make sure Virginia has a difficult time succeeding at the circus. 


About the Filmmakers:

Writer & Director Lauren Finerman has joined forces with the Oakland based production company French Press Films to make Paper Birds come to life. Lauren and French Press Films have spent the past two years creating content together, upon her arrival in San Francisco, CA. Lauren got her start in film New York City while moonlighting as a professional circus performer at night.


The short film has attracted some very exciting production partners in both the film and circus community in the Bay Area including: Little Giant Lighting & Grip, Trapeze Arts Oakland and the Vau de Vire Society.




Lauren's Directorial Debut, Lift You Up, premiered at the San Francisco Dance Film Festival. Other credits include Producer on baseball documentary, Pussywillow Dirtbags (Santa Cruz Film Festival), Production Supervisor on AMERICANA (Seattle International Film Festival) and Associate Producer on feature length documentary, BALLET 422 which Premiered at Tribeca Film Festival (Documentary Competition) and was acquired by Magnolia Pictures.

Co-Founders Roman Honeycutt, Andrew Juncker & Chris Walters started French Press Films 8 years ago as a means to tell compelling stories for brands and artists. Also reining from French Press, Shirley Wen has signed on to edit the film. Rounding off our dream team is Ben Lunden who will be leading cinematography.


Current Team