Surprise!

Los Angeles, California | Film Short

Comedy, Horror

Casey O'Brien

1 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $6,430 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

81 supporters | followers

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Surprise! is about 4 success-obsessed women who attempt a fun prank on a friend, but things careen out of control, and before long, one of them winds up dead. What a bummer! The film tackles “Girlbossism,” toxic positivity, and the idea that capitalistic individualism smothers collective liberation.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

We are making Surprise! because we are exhausted by the portrayal of feminism in mainstream film. We seek to highlight how centering individual success isolates women and pits them against each other. So this film should throw you into a rage! But also make you laugh wildly and scream in terror!

The Story

Do you hate your best friends? Have you hated them for 20 years? Do you feel like they hate you? Then this is the project for you! This is a story about four high school gal pals who plan what was originally supposed to be a simple prank, but keeps getting more and more complicated. And then, when murder gets added to the equation... Well, you know how annoying that can be.

A Pleasant Little Note From Writer/Director Lucé Tomlin-Brenner 

"On New Years' Eve 2017 my car was totaled. I’m fine. But what a bad omen for 2018; stranded and carless in Los Angeles, the car capital of the world! Living carless and broke in Los Angeles inspires people to respond to you as if you had intentionally waxed off your own eyebrows, 'What happened? And why are you this way?' As a result, I was forced to retell this traumatic story of why I did not have a car, over and over again. But people don’t love when a traumatic story pervades amicable chit-chat, even if they asked! They want to avoid it like the plague. They want you to be 'Grateful' and to have 'Good vibes only!' I found myself being forced to carry a positive and upbeat attitude at all times to avoid being called 'a bummer,' and further social isolation. This was my introduction to 'toxic positivity' as a modern social phenomenon. But I guess I am GRATEFUL after all, as it ended up being a primary influence Surprise!"

"From a young age, girls are socialized to be positive and comforting at all times, to put others' needs before their own. While feminism seeks to liberate women from this conditioning, the 'Girlboss' swoops in to warp feminist language and repackage it in faux empowerment messaging. What makes the 'Girlboss' or 'Badass Woman' trope so insidious is that it centers individualism. Girlbosses are in complete and total control of their lives (which ignores the various structures of oppression that exist), so if you experience hardship, it's entirely your fault. If you’re not succeeding, it’s because you don't have the right attitude. What a crock of shit!"  

"I am obsessed with women who are willing to throw other women under the bus in the spirit of 'feminism.' You can just be mean! You don't have to shoehorn in watered-down ideas of liberation! Capitalism readily gobbled up pseudo-feminist mantras, so now we're bombarded with neurotically positive slogans about being a 'Badass Businesswoman' every time we go to Target as if that is a radical notion. The idea of 'no one is free until everyone is free,' has been traded in for throat-slitting one's way up the ladder in a toothless attempt at equality.

NEXT STEPS

"We are currently in pre-production on the film. We've got the crew, the cast, and all the locations in place. We also have that 'Rosie-the-Riveter-Girl-Boss-Lean-In Attitude.' All we need are the proper funds to execute. We are set to shoot the film in late June-early July. The money we receive from this campaign will be exclusively used for the production of the film. We will also update this page once we hit post-production. Once completed, we will be submitting this film to festivals and it will hopefully enjoy a lengthy festival run, like my previous project MESSED UP. After that, the film will be made public online for everyone to enjoy. We'll be updating this page throughout the campaign and afterward to keep all of our investors up to date. And to let them know when the film is ready to view."

 

 

 

 

 

Heathers

Jawbreaker

Mean Girls

Sex and the City

Scream Queens

But I'm a Cheerleader

Death Proof

The Doom Generation

Legally Blonde

Smiley Face

Lucé Tomlin-Brenner is one of the founders of TOO MUCH productions, a feminist horror-comedy collective for DIY filmmakers who have audacious visions. It's for all those women with big personalities who have been called "too much."

And check out her previous film MESSED UP, a horror inspired comedy about a young woman whose messy apartment saves her life when a serial killer breaks in but can’t navigate her piles of possessions.

           

Emma Cogan (Producer/Production Designer/Costumer Designer) is one of the founders of Monstrous Femme Films, a film collective based in Portland, Oregon. They make progressive horror flicks with a bite. Our producer Alex Hartwig is also a member of this collective!

And check out Monstrous Femme Films' Giallo short film FANATICO"When students moonlighting as sex workers are being murdered at a Catholic boarding school, the new girl with strange visions must try to uncover the truth."

                   

Wishlist

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

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Food!

Costs $1,000

This will cover all the food and craft services on set.

Cast and Crew Payment

Costs $2,000

This will help pay the cast and crew for their hard work.

Equipment

Costs $800

This will cover camera, lighting, grip, and sound equipment.

Transportation and Insurance

Costs $200

Includes production insurance and transportation costs.

Costumes and Set Design

Costs $1,000

Everything to make the movie look pretty!

About This Team

We have the best possible group of people making this movie. Everyone is just so thoughtful, kind, and creative. They all inhabit the spirit of DIY filmmaking. Plus, they are all super funny and work really hard.

Why don’t you meet them!?

Lucé Tomlin-Brenner (DIRECTOR) is a comedian, podcaster, and filmmaker who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, and currently resides in Los Angeles. Her background as an improviser with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater informs her writing, directing, and performance style. As a frequent podcast guest, Lucé can be heard dishing on everything from horror films to the prison industrial complex on such networks as Maximum Fun, How Stuff Works, and Exactly Right. You can engage with her twice a week on her Halloween history podcast @itsalwayshalloweenpodcast. Her award-winning horror-comedy short, Messed Up, wrapped up its festival run in 2020, and in 2021 she launched, TOO MUCH, a feminist horror-comedy collective for DIY filmmakers who have audacious visions. Lucé believes horror is a transformative genre that helps us examine the absurdities and inequities of our surreal world. Her favorite characters are loud, hysterical, women who are being driven to the brink of madness by a cruel society. Her biggest fear is being murdered.

Warren Chan (CINEMATOGRAPHER) is a lifelong film enthusiast and scholar, with a wide array of hands-on experience. He has worked in the field of film digitization, color correction, and restoration for 14 years and has created new HD masters for hundreds of films from the 1920s to the 1990s. Last year, he co-founded the cult film distribution label, Culture Shock Releasing (www.cultureshockreleasing.com). An avid screenwriter and occasional actor, he recently shot, edited, and scored the feature film, Cannibal Hookers (2020). Warren also shot Lucé's previous short film, Messed Up.

Emma Cogan (PRODUCER/PRODUCTION DESIGN/ COSTUME DESIGNER) is a genre-focused filmmaker and costume designer hailing from Portland, Oregon. Emma is passionate about utilizing horror and sci-fi narratives to create stylized films that explore the human condition and tell under-told stories- through an inclusive, feminist lens. In 2018, she co-founded the feminist horror collective, Monstrous Femme Films- working on various flicks throughout the years as a costume designer, producer, and art director. Currently, she is beginning pre-production on her MFF genre featurette trilogy, opening with her directorial debut Penny & The Poppies, a queer, retro-surrealist psychological horror. In addition to her work under MFF, Emma works as a wardrobe/production assistant for film and TV, and co-hosts TO DYE FOR!- a feminist horror podcast highlighting the importance of costume design in the genre.

Alex Hartwig (PRODUCER) is an ambitious filmmaker with a passion for expression and creative free flow. Hailing from the suburbs of Washington D.C. Alex is a writer and producer with a busy mind. His first dip into film was writing and directing tech horror I Love My Computer in 2018, before producing Camp Calypso and graduating from PSU with a BFA in 2019. During 2020 Alex mainly ate pasta. Best of all he is currently producing this film! SURPRISE! 

Casey O’Brien (PRODUCER) is a writer and director who, despite the danger, always cleans his ears with Q-Tips. Originally from Minneapolis, his thoughtful and funny short films and web series have played at multiple festivals, including HollyWeb Festival and LA’s Nonplussed Fest. His screenplays have placed in several screenplay competitions, including semi-finalist statuses with the Film Independent Screenwriting Lab and Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship. He currently produces several film podcasts for the Maximum Fun podcast network, including the female filmmaker interview show Switchblade Sisters, which has featured such directors as Debra Granik and Cathy Yan.

Lizzie Minges (she/her/herself) (EDITOR) is an NYC-based editor, colorist, and musician with a passion for all things creepy, quirky, and odd. Raised in Bangkok, educated in Canada, and now parked in Brooklyn - Lizzie tries to inject a bit of home and humanity into all the projects she contributes to. Her editorial work has been featured on screens from Doc NYC to the jumbotrons at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, from Shudder's World of Death to broadcast monitors at the New York Stock Exchange. When not slicing media, she can be found very slowly shredding the electric guitar, studying Mandarin, or painting tiny eyeballs on pots.

Dani Adaliz (she/her) (Lydia) is a bi-racial Afro-Latina actress, comedian, writer, and director and MOTH story slam winner. Dani works predominantly in web video and on stage as an actress, comedian, and writer. Dani’s credits include Buzzfeed (Pero Like, Bring me, Tasty) and Mitu. She is also a series regular in the “Jenny Lorenzo universe” (on youtube) as Fidelia and has performed live storytelling (various podcasts, The Moth), stand-up comedy, and Improv (Groundlings, UCB, Second City).

Mal Merpi (she/her)(Rose) is a television writer living in Los Angeles. She’s worked on several shows for Netflix, FX, and Fox, including The Politician, Pose, American Horror Story, and 9-1-1. Despite those very serious credits, Mal is a comedian who has performed on every stage in LA that will have her and is a former house team member at Upright Citizen’s Brigade. She prides herself on her Midwest work ethic, mischievous smile, and booming laugh.

Risdon Roberts (she/they) (Lulu) is a writer and performer based in Los Angeles. Originally from Boston, Risdon has worked as an actor since the age of four and can be seen in Lionsgate’s “Bite Me” and Broadway Videos' “This Place is Weird”. In 2017 she wrote and produced the #MeToo short “Pizza Party,” which was used in colleges to educate students about enthusiastic consent. In her free time, Risdon likes to Google dog breeds, guess strangers’ sun signs, and smash the Patriarchy.

Marcelina Chavira (she/they) (Julia) was conceived during a ham-fueled moment of passion over an Easter Holiday weekend in Eagle Pass, Texas. At Bryn Mawr College she studied dance and anthropology. Shortly thereafter she received an MA from NYU in Performance Studies. She then decided against a Ph.D. and moved to L.A. to become a cartoon. But cartoons are not real. So she resigned herself to voice-over and has since found a wonderful home in sketch comedy. Marcelina is constantly on stage with the all-women of color sketch team The BAE*GENCY, The Pack Theater house sketch team Friendo, and the all-Latinx sketch team Latinx Comedy Pachanga. Marcelina is also a visual artist who frequently makes elaborate props and costumes for sketch and theater. She recently completed a job as Art Director for an upcoming DreamWorks web series for tweens.

Ellie Race-Moore (she/her)(Celine) is an actor/writer and frequent performer at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater and recipient of their Thomas Angel Foundation scholarship for women in comedy. She has written for Reductress, Outfit7, and Donut Media. She and her writing partner, Kristina Felske, currently have a script in development with Awesomeness/Nickelodeon. This year she had her directorial debut with the short film 'Self Help.' ​She once did a commercial with Godzilla, but they don't stay in touch.

Julie Rosing (she/her) (Mystery Girl / Danielle) identifies as an actor, writer, dog owner, and tall person. She is currently based in Los Angeles by way of New York City by way of Cincinnati, Ohio. Her short film, Room for One, was an official selection at the 2020 Los Angeles Short Film Festival.

Current Team

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