Los Angeles, California | Film Short

Horror, Thriller

Lola Blanc

1 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $35,010 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

187 supporters | followers

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PRUNING is a woman-directed psychological horror film about right-wing commentator culture, cognitive dissonance, and the ways language can convert into violence. We'll explore the real-world impact of extreme rhetoric, and what happens when your ambition conflicts with what you know is right.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

We are deeply interested in stories about changing our minds, and the consequences we face when we don't. In today's culture of fanatical certainty, this film will ask us to doubt. Please consider supporting this female-helmed film in a male-dominated genre.

The Story

Sami is controversial. It's how she makes her living, it's her bread and butter--and her exploding fanbase is eating it up. So when she discovers that a mass shooter was inspired by her specifically, she ignores it. After all, crazy people have nothing to do with her. Right? That's what she tells herself as her conscience grows harder and harder to ignore, ultimately culminating in her choice to get rid of it altogether

This is a film about a woman who is willing to do anything to achieve her goals--even if it means losing part of herself. In a time when we're more connected and more divided than ever, when those who talk the loudest dominate the conversation, we believe that stories about what it means to stop and question are more important than they've ever been.

And it's not just our opinion: the story is resonating. Our script has received the following accolades in screenplay competitions so far:









KILLER SHORTS - Top 10 Finalist
COVERFLY - Top 5% of discoverable scripts on Coverfly

Cognitive dissonance: the nagging discomfort you feel when two contradictory things exist in your head at the same time. I briefly believed in a cult leader as a child, and that experience was a clear and formative window into what it means to cling to an idea that conflicts with reality. I remember a distinct moment, when I was about 12, in which I tried to pray to God that I knew my “prophet” was the real prophet; I couldn’t bring myself to say the words. I still believed that I believed in him, but I took note of that nagging feeling, and told myself to remember it later, just in case. A part of me, deep down, knew the truth.

With the podcast that I produce and co-host, TRUST ME, I’ve gotten the chance to interview former members of all kinds of extreme groups, and I hear the same story over and over again: I doubled down; I was in too deep; somewhere inside me I knew. Now, when I watch far-right talking heads - or really anyone - peddling exaggerated, and inflammatory talking points, I find myself wondering about their own moments of cognitive dissonance. Do they truly believe their rhetoric, or do they know it's extreme and simply not care? If, as we've often seen, denouncing a heinous action would alienate their base, will they dig their heels in deeper, too attached to success to be prepared to face the consequences of their words?

Along with my co-writer, Jeremy Radin, this film is our exploration of what it might mean to be a shock commentator in 2022. It's about the modern compulsion to be loud, to be famous, and to be right, no matter the cost, and the lengths someone with a conscience might go to to quiet their own moral compass.

Dark, textured, cool and moody lighting in Sami's real life contrasts sharply with the bright, crisp look of her on-camera life. Uncomfortably tight shots and controlled, creeping camera movements create an atmosphere of growing dread.

Tonally hearkening to simmering, genre-bending thrillers like Black Swan and We Need to Talk About Kevin with the otherworldly horror of David Lynch, the film will blur the line between real life and nightmare as Sami struggles to avoid facing herself and the true impact of her rhetoric.


Hi! I'm a filmmaker, actor, and musician whose directorial work has been spotlighted by FANGORIA, BILLBOARD, NERDIST, and prestigious short film channel OMELETO, and screened at film festivals like FANTASTIC FEST, Oscar-qualifying HOLLYSHORTS, and NANTUCKET FILM FESTIVAL.

My music has garnered millions of streams across Spotify and YouTube and has been featured by PAPER, V MAGAZINE, REFINERY29, and lots more. I've also written songs for other artists, including BRITNEY SPEARS and K-pop superstars ITZY. My acting credits include UNDER THE SILVER LAKE, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, and films that have screened at TRIBECA and SXSW.

Much of my work is inspired by my childhood experience believing in a self-proclaimed prophet, including my podcast TRUST ME on the PodcastOne network, in which my co-host and I interview survivors of groups like NXIVM, the Manson Family, Heaven’s Gate, and QAnon. The show has received over ONE MILLION DOWNLOADS. 


$30,000 is how much it will take to make this film! We're making every effort to keep costs down (and of course we aren't getting paid ourselves). It sounds like a lot, but here's how it's broken down:


  • CAST & CREW: This is a 3 day shoot. That means paying a camera & lighting team, sound mixer, production designer, costume designer, makeup artist, SFX artist, and SAG-AFTRA actors for 3 days of work.
  • LOCATIONS: 2 indoor locations + 1 outdoor location for an overnight shoot. LA location rentals add up fast!
  • GEAR: Professional camera equipment and lighting rentals for 3 days.
  • SFX: The design of Sami's conscience is crucial to the story.
  • SOUND: An experienced sound mixer to capture professional-level sound.
  • PRODUCTION DESIGN: Each location will be carefully designed by our art direction team to be visually striking while servicing the characters and story as much as possible.
  • CRAFT SERVICES & CATERING: Eating well is key to making low-budget shoots worthwhile!
  • INSURANCE: Insurance is a must.


  • VFX: Sami's conscience will require both practical creature design and some post-production VFX.
  • SOUND & SCORE: Every horror film needs a creepy score, unnerving sound design, and professional sound mixing to keep you on the edge of your seat!
  • COLOR CORRECTION: The color grade can make or break the look of the film.
  • FILM FESTIVALS: Film festival submissions can range anywhere from $30 to $100 per submission, and indie filmmaker have to hedge their bets and submit to numerous festivals. It adds up fast!


If we surpass our budget, here are our stretch goals:

If we raise $35,000, we'll be able to cover our full vision of visual effects as well as other post-production costs.
If we raise $40,000, we can hire an outside editor (instead of Lola editing herself), and cover additional festival + promotional costs.

Whatever you contribute, any amount you can afford is immensely appreciated. Every little bit helps!


Donating using the link above is the best way to help us out! Even a small amount makes a big difference (but we certainly won't say no to larger donations!).

If you can't donate today, that's okay! You can still help us get the word out by following us on Twitter and Instagram, and sharing the project! Find us at @pruningfilm. Know anyone who loves women-directed horror? Have a friend who's particularly passionate about politics? Send it their way!

Not able to donate, but interested in helping out on set or with post-production? DM the Pruning Instagram account! We're aiming to shoot in early June and complete post by the end of July.

SAMI is our fast-talking, controversy-loving protagonist. She knows just what cultural buttons to push--and just how to rack up a following. She's destined for a career in right-wing television. If she could just quiet that part of her that cares about the harm she may have caused, everything would be perfect. It will be perfect.

is Sami's precocious teenage neighbor and friend. They've bonded over their shared love of plants, and Alina is willing to overlook Sami's controversial persona in favor of how kind she is in person... until she learns the shooter's connection to Sami, and discovers just how extreme Sami's talking points have gotten.


Learn more about our director of photography, Sonja Tsypin, on her website.


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

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Cast & Crew

Costs $10,000

You can't make great films without great people! This will go toward paying our team members.


Costs $3,500

Music, sound editing, and titles will be a key component to this film.

Equipment & gear

Costs $5,000

Camera & lighting rentals for a 3-day shoot.

Production design

Costs $4,000

Set design will be crucial to make the film hit home.


Costs $5,000

Locations in Los Angeles are expensive - especially outdoor ones.


Costs $2,500

A well-fed crew is a a happy crew!

About This Team


Lola Blanc is a filmmaker and musician whose directorial work has been featured by FANGORIA, OMELETOBILLBOARD, and NERDIST, and whose films have screened at film festivals like FANTASTIC FEST, HOLLYSHORTS, and NANTUCKET FILM FESTIVAL.

Much of her work is inspired by her childhood experience believing in a self-proclaimed prophet, including her podcast TRUST ME on the PodcastOne network, in which she and her co-host interview survivors of groups like NXIVM, the Manson Family, Heaven’s Gate, and QAnon.

Her previous work in the music industry - she’s written songs for artists like BRITNEY SPEARS, and her own songs and videos have garnered tens of millions of streams - lends a distinctly visual point of view to her work. She has appeared as an actress in UNDER THE SILVER LAKE and AMERICAN HORROR STORY; she has over 200,000 followers across platforms.


Jeremy Radin is a writer and actor. He has appeared in films like THE WAY BACK and TV shows like IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, CRIMINAL MINDS, and THE UNITED STATES OF TARA. He is the author of two poetry collections: Slow Dance with Sasquatch (Write Bloody, 2017) and Dear Sal (Not A Cult, 2022). He lives in Los Angeles.


SONJA TSYPIN is a cinematographer born and raised in New York City and currently based in Los Angeles. Her cinematography is heavily informed by her background in fine arts as a painter, as well as by her upbringing as a first generation Russian-American.

She has collaborated with directors like LEIGH WHANNELL (THE INVISIBLE MAN, INSIDIOUS, SAW) and COURTENEY COX, and musical artists including KHALID, WEEZER, ALICIA KEYS, DEFTONES, and FRENCH MONTANA. She has shot commercials for ADIDAS, NFL, KIA, VOGUE, NIVEA, PANTENE, and more; her narrative work has been featured on SHORT OF THE WEEK and NO BUDGE, and screened at festivals worldwide including PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL and FANTASTIC FEST. Her work has been featured in publications including AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER MAGAZINE, VANITY FAIR, PAPER MAGAZINE, NYLON, VARIETY, and BILLBOARD.

Sonja graduated with a master's degree in cinematography from the American Film Institute and is represented by Artistry Agency. She and Lola are frequent collaborators.

Current Team