Trapped in the Booth

New York City, New York | Film Short

Comedy, Music

Louie Mandelbaum

1 Campaigns | New York, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $7,746 for post-production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

107 supporters | followers

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This is the pilot of Trapped in the Booth, a comedy series about a gay DJ as he navigates bros & hoes New York Nightlife in pursuit of his dreams of pop music stardom. It features a queer lead character in a hyper realistic and compassionate light, presenting one gay guy's journey of becoming.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

Trapped not only features an candid portrayal of a gay leading character, but it confronts body image, sexism, racism, and transphobia and features a wonderful, diverse cast, including African Americans, Latina-Americans, trans actors playing trans roles, trans actors playing cis roles, and more.

The Story

Trapped in the Booth is a half-hour comedy based on my experiences. The series follows Charlie, a neurotic, gay DJ as he navigates the "bros and hoes" world of New York City nightlife. With Charlie’s 30th birthday looming and his career, love life, and pretty much everything else in his world going nowhere, a major, unexpected life event suddenly throws everything he holds dear into question and, perhaps, jolts him awake for the first time in his life.


I shot the pilot completely independently, raising the entire production budget and the majority of the post-production budget myself, assembling a team, sourcing locations, casting, and finally, executing the shoot over eight days on-location last October in New York City.

When we meet Charlie (Louie Mandelbaum / ME!) in the pilot, he is subconsciously grappling with the latent shame that has followed him into his post-closeted life. While he's stuck DJing in shitty local bars and clubs that cater to straight people, Charlie secretly dreams of becoming a superstar DJ, songwriter, and producer--a gay Mark Ronson, if you will. But up to this point, Charlie's ambitions as an artist have been confined to the safety of his bedroom. Accustomed to hiding as a means of survival, he's terrified of putting his work, and thus himself, out there.


Moreover, Charlie has never been in a relationship with another man, a fact that as he perilously nears 30 leads to crippling angst (and, as a comedy, hijinks a'plenty) as he stumbles through dating, sex, and, love as a gay man in 2018.  

This story is incredibly personal to me. Presenting a queer character in a hyper-realistic and compassionate light--honestly rendering one gay man's journey of becoming--is my primary mission with creating this show.


Even in the “golden age” of television featuring some of the most diverse programming ever, the marked dearth of gay leading men on TV is largely unchanged from I was growing up in the '90s and 2000s. Few and far between are series which tell truthful stories about our experiences in ways that are both specific to our lives but also showcase how our stories are totally universal. Given how important media is in forming our identities, this cannot continue to be the status quo. With Trapped, I set out to make the show I felt like I needed to see growing up and which frankly, I still need to see now.

Beyond Charlie's story, the series also centers around his sister and roommate Kate (Lily Mandelbaum), a body-positive, "curvy" Instagram model and minor social media celebrity who seeks to do something deeper with her platform than simply hawking plus-sized bathing suits to make ends meet. It also features Charlie's best friend, the mysterious and outspoken DJ Nolita (Pop singer and songwriter Maluca Mala), a keeper of many secret lives, as well as Charlie and Kate's parents, legendary fashion editor, Jill (Ilana Levine) and retired lawyer and kept-man, Pete Isaacson (Chris Kies). 

When I set out to shoot this pilot a year ago, my goal with doing so independently was to create a fully-realized and undeniable vision for the series to submit to pilot festivals and to use as pitch material for networks and production companies. Now that our final cut is nearly complete, and thanks to the truly astounding team with whom I've had the privilege of collaborating, I believe with all my heart that we’ve created a truly hilarious, poignant, beautifully-rendered and extraordinarily necessary network-ready pilot. This story is unlike anything else that’s out there. It needs to be told.  

This amazing cast and crew, as well as the investors who have believed in us thus far, have already taken this story so far with nothing but our passion for telling this story. Now, in the final stretch, we need your help. Your contribution to this campaign will allow us  to:


1. Finish our Final Cut: The money from this campaign will help us pay our editor and director to finish the final cut of the pilot.


2. Color and Sound Mix: It will also help us do the sound and color mix, which will give the pilot the professional sheen it needs, as well as allow us to pay actors to repair any glitches that occurred with recording dialogue during filming.


3. Graphic Design and Pitch Materials: Trapped needs a great logo and a killer-looking Series Bible that lay out the entire world of the show and our vision for the future of the series in vivid detail. This bible is a critical piece that will accompany the final cut of the pilot and will help us showcase our ability to expand the pilot into a multi-episode, multi-season series. In addition to great content, it also has to be a visual feast. Your contribution will help us pay for the graphic designer we need to help bring this bible to life.  


Our main goal now is is to find the proper home to make the rest of this funny, touching, and important series. We hope you will consider helping us do so by making a contribution!


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

Director's Fee

Costs $1,000

This is to pay our director for post-production.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Finishing our Final Cut

Costs $3,500

This money will allow us to pay our editor to complete our final cut.

Sound Mix + Color

Costs $1,500

This is for a killer sound mix and some color correction to make the pilot look and sound amazing.

Graphic Design

Costs $1,500

We need a sick logo and amazing show bible to accompany this pilot as we pitch it!

About This Team

Louis Mandelbaum (Creator, Writer, "Charlie") 


Louis Mandelbaum (PKA DJ Louie XIV) is a writer, actor and DJ based in New York City. 

As a DJ, Louie spins regularly at New York City’s premiere venues and for private clientele including Vanity Fair Magazine, The New Yorker, The Metropolitan Museum or Art, Maison Martin Marigela, Fendi, Buzzfeed and Zac Posen. 

As a music and culture writer, Louie's work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Buzzfeed, and others. His popular column chronicling his travels in nightlife and the inspiration for this series, Trapped in the Booth, was originally featured in the Huffington Post and later in the Cuepoint Collection of Trapped is his first foray into the magical world of television! He can't believe this whole thing actually happened. 


Max Azulay (Director) 


Max Azulay is a writer/director/actor based in NYC. He co-wrote, co-directed and starred in the feature film, '5 Doctors,' which also stars Bobby Moynihan (SNL), Jeremy Shamos (Birdman), Eddie Pepitone (Conan) and many others. It premiered at the Austin Film Festival and was acquired by Gravitas Ventures and released on VOD and On Demand in 2018. In addition. his work has been featured at the LA Comedy Festival, on The Onion, Channel 101,, Funny or Die, The Huffington Post, The Nerdist, and at the Upright Citizens Brigade. He has written and directed content for Go90, Mashable and IBM. He has several allergies, which he would be OK telling you about in person. 


Nolan Funk (Editor)


Nolan Funk is a video editor based in Brooklyn, NY. His work includes feature film Active Adults, Viceland's Most Expensivest, and Showtime's Our Cartoon President. Nolan really likes funny jokes, ice cream, and the beach.


Cory Fraiman-Lott (Director of Photography)


Cory Fraiman-Lott spent his youth cleaning his room and watching Michael Jackson music videos on VHS.  Shortly after his parents’ divorce, Cory decided to swear off love altogether and focus solely on cinematography.

With a BFA from the Tisch School of the Arts, as well as training from Schumacher Camera and Essanay Lighting Studio, two notable rental houses in the Chicagoland area, Cory has applied his eye for aesthetics to numerous award-winning works featured in such festivals as Sundance, Tribeca, and New York Television.  Most recently, his feature film “How To Tell You’re A Douchebag” was released and broadcast via BET Networks.

Cory prides himself on his efficiency, his ability to problem-solve, and his full-body snowmobile suit.


Lily Mandelbaum ("Kate" and Producer) 


Lily Mandelbaum is the co-founder of, an online multimedia platform dedicated to highlighting authenticity through personal style. Along with her mom and fellow co-founder of SLU, Elisa Goodkind, she is also the author of two books that focus on the message of self-acceptance through style. She not only plays Louie's sister and roomate in the pilot, but is also Louie's IRL sister and roomate. Playing Kate in Trapped in the Booth, a character which is closely based on Lily's real life, is her first professional foray in acting. 


Maluca Mala ("DJ Nolita")


Maluca Mala is a performing artist, actor and activist, born and raised in NYC. Maluca's completely unique musical approach has lead to collaborations with pop and dance luminaries like Robyn, Brodinski, Diplo, and Party Squad. Maluca is passionate about people, nuruting creativity, and wellness!


Jill Ferraro and Lauren Ebner (Producers)


Lauren and Jill produce things in and out of Brooklyn, NY. They founded Apple in a Million Pieces Productions in 2016. Their company aim is to develop projects that have been presented with compassionate perspectives and an unfiltered storytelling energy. 

Current Team