Sensory Overload: Taste's Bitter

Elon, North Carolina | Film Short

Drama, Experimental

Sydney Steinberg

1 Campaigns | North Carolina, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $3,861 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

44 supporters | followers

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TASTE’S BITTER explores Alex's complex emotions through her tangible senses. The third short film in a series of five, each correlated to one of the five senses, asks questions about the effect our digital world has had on our relationships with ourselves and others.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

Coming from a generation raised with (and sometimes even by) social media, I often don’t understand my own identity and emotions. When the complexities of the digital world feel overwhelming, I like to ground myself in what is real: my five senses.

The Story

Sensory Overload is a series of 5 short films following Alex, throughout various stages of her life in extremely significant sensory moments. Each stand alone piece reveals more about Alex’s character development, and explores her identity through the lens of the modern and ever-connected social world we live in. This series analyzes the effects that our digitally mediated world has had on our relationships with ourselves, and others. It poses these extremely cerebral themes through something so incredibly tangible; the five senses. ‘Taste’s Bitter,’ is the third part in this series, and the only part currently in production. It will serve as a proof of concept for the series.

Alex is trapped in a world she can’t seem to navigate, and incessantly tries to soothe herself of this pressure in unhealthy ways. As we follow Alex from adolescence into young adulthood we witness her engage in reckless and self harming behaviors as a way to exist and preserve what is left of her own identity, if she can understand what that is in a society of comparisons. She is incredibly impressionable, constantly fighting the balance between choosing her own happiness and satisfying the idea others have of her.

Taste’s Bitter meets Alex on her 16th birthday. She faces disappointment after disappointment with her friends, her family, and even herself after the expectation of her special day is continuously shattered. Alex’s Dad, her best friend Maggie, and social media are all major propellants of this unrealistic expectation. Her resentment and frustration grows; she breaks a nail, her dress doesn’t fit the way she thought it would, her friends cancel on her last minute - every minor detail layers onto the previous, until Alex snaps. At the end of the day her complicated relationship with food comes to a head. She binge eats her 16th birthday cake. This is a gruesome portal of the desperation plaguing young girls in a world where everyone is compared. All anyone wants as a storyteller is to be understood, but how can anyone fully understand the human experience in film on a two-dimensional level when in reality, our lives are so much more tactile? I have always been drawn to the five senses and how to integrate them into my writing because I want someone to understand a story so deeply they feel as if they are inside of it, and have experienced it firsthand. I want audiences to taste the red velvet birthday cake, smell the fear-sweat wafting around the room, and feel the unwanted touch of a character on their skin. Naturally, our experiences will differ from person to person, but what if we can find universal feelings through our senses?

This series explores themes ranging from identity in a modern world, identity as a female-identifying person in the social media landscape, and growth evolving through the sensory experience of everyday life to core memories. Often taboo issues like views on relationships, love, sex, sexual assault, relationships with food and coping mechanisms, and emotional accountability deserve their chance to be explored - not solved but given the space to breathe inside of an audience.

This is a project extremely near and dear to my heart, not just because it serves as my thesis project for my B.F.A. Cinema and Television Arts major, and not just because it has consumed my bedroom walls in sticky note for the past year, but because I believe in it so strongly. I believe in Alex, fighting for her identity through the storm of people trying to tell her who she should be. I believe that our internal problems, our struggles and our strengths, deserve a chance to be exposed to the world. And I believe the problems my generation faces are unlike challenges ever experienced before, because we communicate unlike ever before.  We are in the midst of a social turning point; my generation must choose, how do we want to move forward? Sensory Overload’s structure loosely follows the cycle of self-harm, as a wider comparison to the inescapable cycle of social media. Both cycles, once engaged, are difficult to separate yourself from. This series tracks Alex throughout these cycles. Visually, this idea will be portrayed through roundness: a round kitchen table, a circular cake, various 360 shots. Another major theme is the idea of reflection, of perception of yourself versus reality. One of Alex’s bedroom walls will be filled with connecting mirrors; in moments when Alex's delusional hopes are demolished, we will view her through her reflection. A major goal for our campaign is aimed towards production design. Several locations will be used in Taste’s Bitter, all requiring varying degrees of design. 

To continue the growth of this project, we need your support. A pledge now will help us enter Taste’s Bitter into film festivals, but will also extend beyond this short. This is just a proof of concept, this is just the beginning.

Moving Making in COVID-19

This project's energy is fueld by the dedicated student crew and cast. Our entire crew knows what it's like to learn in the age of COVID-19, and how to adapt. Safety is the number one priority for this production, and any measures deamed necessay will be taken. This includes but is not limited to providing and mandating PPE, enforcing social distancing, and adjusting our production schedule if need be. Our dreams will not be put on pause for COVID-19, but our practies to achieve them can be altered. 

Production Timeline:

Filming February 17th - 20th, 2023. Premiering at the Elon University B.F.A. showcase May 12th. 

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Craft Services

Costs $1,000

To keep our cast and crew happy and healthy, we'll be providing 8 meals throughout the production.


Costs $200

From a house to a pizza restaurant, several locations will be needed to accomplish this short film.


Costs $150

To compensate our cast for their time and express our gratitude.

Production Design

Costs $1,100

In order to achieve the desired look for each location, we'll need a plethora of materials.

Prop Food

Costs $400

Several identical cakes and lots of snacks will be needed to make a short film about taste!

Costumes and Makeup

Costs $250

You must dress to impress on your 16th birthday.

Festival Submission Fees

Costs $400

Help us continue the future of this project :)

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team

Our team is composed of some of the best students at Elon University. In addition to a student crew, we are working with a local culinary school in Alamance Country to craft all on-screen food needed for the production.

Director: Sydney A Steinberg

Producers: Isabella Iaccarino & Melanie Meisner 

1st AD: Claire Cohen 

2nd AD: Caroline Pirwitz 

Director of Photography: Becca Potters

1st AC: Allison Rikkard 

2nd AC: Jenivee Bevan 

Gaffer: Piper Nixon

Grip: Hector Lopez

Grip: Will Calkins

Casting Director: Delaney Moore

Food Stylist: Krystjan Jordan

Set Designer: Kayla Knight 

Hair/Makeup/SFX: Lilah Steinberg

Costumes: Melissa Jones

Sound Mixer: Jack Minkowitz

Boom Op/Music Supervisor: Alayna McNalley 

Campaign Video DP: Ted Tsbouris 

Editors: Jacob Sarver & Merle Tripplet 



Current Team