Behind the Pose

New York City, New York | Film Short


Sally Lomidze

1 Campaigns | New York, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $10,000 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

92 supporters | followers

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Masha is an Eastern-European teen model in NYC. On the brink of losing her contract, she must redeem herself in one last photoshoot under threat of sexual exploitation and deportation.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

Based on my personal experiences as a young woman, I want Masha’s story to capture the elusive nature of sexual abuse. Cinematically, we will contrast the beautiful fantasy Masha lives out in front of the lens with how the modeling world actually sees her - as another vulnerable body to exploit.

The Story

“Behind the Pose” is a short fiction film following the story of Masha, an Eastern-European teen model in NYC struggling to keep up with her agency's measurement requirements. She really does try to lose weight, although her good intention has long turned into harmful behavior, that we witness in the opening scene: *SPOILER ALERT* :)

Finding that purse stashed away the next morning, her modeling agent, Katerina, flips out and gives her an ultimatum: if she doesn’t book the casting tomorrow, she’s out! Desperate to keep the contract, Masha begs Katerina's husband, Freddy, to take new pictures of her to help her book the casting. Will she be able to continue chasing her dream?

The story is nothing without its characters, so let me introduce Masha, Katerina and Freddy.

Who Is This Story About?

Masha, 16 years old, an ambitious girl from a small Eastern-European town. The reality of being a struggling model in NYC poses a great threat to the fantasy life her and her single mother sacrificed everything for. That dissonance results in her developing an eating disorder.

Katerina, in her late 30s, a Russian-American scout and modeling agent. A former model herself, she thinks she knows “what’s best for the girls”, often bulldozing over their actual needs. Naturally, Masha's disobedience turns her into an ungrateful nemesis in Katerina's eyes.

Freddy, in his 40s, Katerina’s husband. She takes care of the bookings, he takes care of the logistics. He often defends the girls in front of Katerina, seemingly being the only adult who understands them. He sees the potential in Masha that sparks a dark conquest in his head.

Look & Feel

The film explores the themes of: the illusion of glamor and confidence in the fashion world, the turbulent nature of being an immigrant in NYC, and, of course, the vulnerability of being a young woman navigating the world without yet clear boundaries. 

The film’s visual language will draw parallels between Masha crammed in her tiny apartment and her pet goldfish in a fishbowl, portraying the reality of being confined to her own “fishbowl”. However, during the actual photoshoot with camera flashes going off, we’ll switch to wider lenses to create a sense of extra space and movement - these are the rare moments when Masha is glamorous, confident and free.

Handheld camera movement and the shallow-focus aesthetic will reflect the volatile nature of Masha's life, often finding detailed close-ups that bring us into her inner world: the beautiful flares of fabric when she is modeling VS the scrutinizing gaze of her agent, - all the details that make up her perception of the world. And that world to her is a beautiful fantasy of what being a model could be, so we are going to make this film so beautiful it's gonna hurt!

Director's Note

One late night an unfamiliar instrumental song (featured in the Pitch Video) came on in my headphones and before I knew it I was in tears. The lonely echoing notes of the piano keys sounded like barefoot steps running away from something terrifyingly painful: that’s when I decided I was ready to tell my story. Unfortunately, like many women, I have not been immune to being overly sexualized, preyed upon and scrutinized from a very young age: I've buried these experience deep inside until I heard the song, inspiring me to start my 2-year research on the dynamics of sexual abuse. Particularly, the abuser’s psychology of grooming (building trust and emotional connection with a person in order to exploit them) and the victim’s defense response of dissociation (disconnection between a person's sensory experience, thoughts or sense of self). 

Setting the story in the fashion world adds another layer of complexity: I've always been fascinated by how models channel this extremely mature and confident look from the magazine page, while the full picture is often a young girl putting on a mask, with awkwardness still peeking through. I want to capture that contrast by using camera POVs during the photoshoot scene to show how the photographer's camera sees Masha, mixed with behind the scenes angles revealing the reality of Masha's emotional state. 

I want Masha’s story to serve as an observation of how elusive this experience can be, especially coming from someone you trust. The courage and strength of the women that shared their experiences through the “Me Too” movement has created amazing resources, so I can only hope that this story continues the conversation. Needless to say, the song that started it all will be the official soundtrack as a tribute to the moment I decided to take control of my own story.

How Will the Funds Be Distributed?

We will be filming with a small, well-versed cast and crew over the course of 2 days in Brooklyn, New York in July 2023. Your contributions will help us cover the labor & equipment needed to film with a quality camera package and team. As soon as we wrap production, we'll move right into post in order to meet our goal of a late 2023 premiere.

Here is a breakdown of how the funds raised will be distributed for all stages of production.

Spread The Word

Overall, I am so excited to be able to bring this story to life, and it really wouldn't be possible without you, the community. If you’d like to be a part of supporting a female filmmaker and advancing women's rights through female-centered stories, YOU can make the difference in our success!

Please share our campaign via your social media, email, word-of-mouth, however you want! We can't do this without you!

Here are a couple examples, please feel free to copy and paste!

Help filmmaker @sallylomi by supporting her short film PURE FACE about a struggling Eastern-European model in NYC who must redeem herself in one last photoshoot under threat of sexual exploitation and deportation. Join her on @seedandspark:

I'm so excited to see the short film PURE FACE, by director/writer @sallylomi, dealing with the realities of the modeling industry! Support her on @seedandspark:

Much love,

- Sally


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

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Meals & Crafty

Costs $500

It all starts with food: help us keep energy high on set with quality meals.

Camera Package

Costs $2,500

Help us capture the beautiful visuals with a stellar camera package!


Costs $2,000

Help us cover location costs for Masha's apartment.

Labor Costs

Costs $4,200

Help us compensate our talented cast & crew!

Masha's Photoshoot Dress

Costs $400

Help us get the beautiful dress for Masha's photoshoot, inspired by a goldfish.


Costs $400

Help us cover HMU costs for our fantastic talent.

About This Team

One of my personal goals for this film as a director is to collaborate with a wider range of artists. I feel like this story is bigger than me, so I am really excited for the following creatives to be a part of our team, as well as for new ones to join as we go through the process.

*By the way, if you see something in this film that sparks your interest and you think you could bring your expertise and passion to, please reach out to me! For example, it would be so cool to have a clothing designer create Masha's photoshoot dress! Or any other role you get excited about - let me know, let's find a way to create together :)

Sally Lomidze - Writer/Director

Hi, I’m Sally Lomidze and I am a Georgian filmmaker. Born and raised in Moscow, Russia, I moved to NYC when I was 21 to pursue my then new interest in filmmaking, having just graduated with a BA in international economics. It was a big leap, but I could feel deep inside that my true passion in life was yet to be discovered. 

I graduated with the MFA in Television Production from Brooklyn College in 2016, where I found myself strongly gravitating towards the visuals as the means to express oneself, leading me to a career in directing and cinematography. My directorial debut show “Brooklyn’s Best” got nominated for the Emmys in the student work category. Since then, my work has ranged from a web-series to a stop-motion animation: I always start at the core, the story itself, delving into the beautiful yet intricate human nature, which then dictates the right visual fabric for it.

My work has been recognized by such organizations as BAFTA and NYWIFT, granting exclusive memberships and grants, as well as such film festivals as Arrow International Film Festival, New York International Film Awards, and others. My latest completed project as a director and co-creator, the thriller web series White Willow Lake, is currently in the festival circuit.

Michael Zhonga - Editor

Michael Zhonga is an audio & video editor, singer/songwriter, and music producer based in NYC. He holds an M.F.A. in TV Production from Brooklyn College.

As a musician, Michael uses his passion for music to elevate his editing work. He is currently an editor at Complex Networks, where his dynamic trailers and sizzles for shows like Hot Ones, Goat Talk, and Pizza Wars have set him apart from other editors and have gained recognition from show producers and even celebrities that have been featured in his edits. Some of his audio and video editing work has been recognized and awarded by film festivals such as The IndieFEST Film Awards, New York International Film Awards, and Arrow International Film Festival, including his latest project as an editor and co-creator, the thriller web series White Willow Lake.

Michael records and releases pop covers on his YouTube channel that have amassed over 2 million combined views. He also records original music with electronic producers from all over the world and has been signed to renowned EDM labels such as NCS, Spinnin' Records, and Revealed Recordings, where some of his biggest hits have reached over 8 million views and millions more on streaming platforms.

Note from Sally: Michael and I met in our MFA, and we have been working as a director/editor duo ever since, developing a strong friendship and a creative bond. His musical background, as well as an incredibly creative editing mindset have always taken our projects to the next level. I never cease to be amazed at the beautiful way he brings the emotions out of each story through editing, and I am so excited to have him on board for this short film, as editing will play a major role in constructing Masha’s point of view.

Current Team