Portland, Oregon | Film Short

Fantasy, Horror

Luke Zwanziger

1 Campaigns | Oregon, United States

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This campaign raised $11,080 for pre-production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

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A climate change body horror through the lens of a Mad Botanist from an equitable filmmaking team with amazing credits!

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

This CREW is age, gender, and racially diverse, with women in key department roles from executive producers down. The subject of VINES is rooted in environmental conservationism. WE are committed to reducing economic privilege as a barrier to filmmaking. Every key crew member has been offered pay.

The Story

Climate change through the lens of a Mad Botanist from an equitable filmmaking team. 

VINES is the story of a mad botanist who creates a sentient plant to overtake humans to give plants a fighting chance in the conflict over climate change and the one victim who fights the implantation becoming an unholy chimera of plant and human.

Inspired by the practical effects of the horror masters like John Carpenter "The Thing" to modern auteurs like Guillermo del Toro, Vines will be creating a fully practical creature to puppet on camera. This project will be 95% practical effects designed and implemented by Art Designer and Producer, Sophya Vidal who is currently working on the post-production team on del Toro's Pinnochio at Shadow Machine. 

We have some amazing storyboards from industry legend Michael Bayyouth, Sleepy Hollow (Fox), Book of Blood (Hulu), Salem (WGN), The Exorcist (Fox) and more, guiding some of our more intricate vfx moments and we're so excited to bring them to life with your help!  

Why now?
Climate change is a major crisis that we can no longer ignore. Media helps challenge us to think about our relationship with nature.  

Plus who doesn't want to see some plants getting some comeuppance? 


I get asked a lot, why horror. Using horror as our genre medium allows us to look at prescient issues and examine our impuses and biases in a less confrontational manner. We hope that we are able to take action on global climate change before the only opinion left is a mad botanist making an army of plant human hybrids. 

Vines will be a stand alone short used as a pitch to gain funding for a feature filmAfter a decade of filmmaking, I'm ready to take the leap. My screenplays have placed and won numerous contests including the best original screenplay at HorrOrigins. We have a lit manager and an agent ready to take this to pitch.

I am thrilled to be making a project with practical creature effects. This team has an unbelievable number of credits (HBO, Amazon Prime, Netflix, NBC, FOX, Discovery, IFC, CryptTV and more). Most of us are stepping up into roles with larger responsibilities which will further all of our careers. With your support, this project has the potential to catch the eye of financiers and allow many of us to make our first feature in leading departmental roles. We have the team in place ready to pitch it once the short is made. 

Our core production team is gender, sexual orientation, age, and racially diverse with women and in leadership roles across the production. 


The myth of the $0 short or even a $10K feature is just that, a myth because of the resources available to those folks, time, money, gear and more. Privilege is a key component in film, people are often asked to work for exposure, deferments, etc. Economically marginalized groups often are unable to work in independent (and commercial) film because of financial considerations. We have made a point to offer every key position a wage so that no one has to choose between film and paying rent or eating. No one is getting rich, but no one is losing their shirt either. 

On paper this is easily a $60k short and we are thankful for all of the time, gear, and money that has already been donated to this short. But good old-fashioned green will help us maintain an equitable set and the rest of the gear we require. 

We have already raised some funds to cover part of our Admin/Insurance/Storage Media/Lodging/etc... all the boring stuff that isn't exciting to contribute to, but we still need some funds for the remaining costs of the puppets, vfx and crew wages! We have some bridge funds helping us film while we wait for the campaign to finish, so please help us get to that finish line

SFX Makeup 

We plan on transforming our victim into a human/plant chimera! Claire Brooksbank (CryptTV) will be helping us with this transformation.



We are doing 95% of our effects in camera. Most of it will be a subtly sentient plant. That means 3 stages of a puppeted plant creature, materials to build it, and the time to film it. But we like cinema that is viceral and we hope that you do too. 

We have several builds of the plant as it evolves and grows until it becomes sentient enough to create a sort of symbiosis with its host. 

We will be filming on two amazing locations. An abandoned creamery that will be transformed in to a mad botanist laboratory.


And an exotic nursery on Sauvie Island on the outskirts of Portland (as seen on GRIMM, Portlandia, and more). 


We have two amazing actors for Vines. 

Lowell Deo has an amazing body of work with nearly 50 IMDB credits, Emmy Nominated voice work, and more! He will make an amazing Dr. Harold Madsen, the botanist with a radical bioethic. 

Joel Austin is a long time horror actor and is no stranger to extreme makeup and costuming, including his role as The Harvester in the upcoming film The Harvester  We are thrilled to have him joining the cast as Rowan.


FOLLOW on Seed & Spark -- It helps unlock a bunch of perks for our project. 

SHARE with friends who may enjoy the topic and our mission. 

ENGAGE with our social media (Twitter, Instagram)! Help beat the algorithm and reach a larger audience! 

FINANCIAL Of course monetary contributions are the most effective way of assisting in the production of VINES.

Your contribution will help pay for production wages for our cast and crew, insurance, equipment etc.


If we make our funding goal, our stretch goals include:
$1K for 20-30 festival submissions
$1K for VFX elements and cleanup
$500 for studio musician for score
$500 for color timing 
$3k of deferred pay 
$2K festival travel funds 
Let's Give Nature a Fighting Chance! 


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


Costs $500

Lights, Camera! More! We have a lot of donated gear, but need some lights and more. (1/2 the cost)

Craft Services

Costs $500

(1/2 the cost) of Keeping Crew Fed and Happy!

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Set Decoration

Costs $2,000

SFX Puppets! Sentient Plants! Tables! Syringes! Mad Science! (2/3rds cost)

Festival Submissions

Costs $200

Just to kickstart our festival submission fund! Our stretch goals will give us more submissions.


Costs $4,500



Costs $1,750



Costs $1,100

A Place to Film - including locations used for Grimm, Portlandia, and more!

SFX Makeup

Costs $2,500

Special Effects Makeup and Artists to Create/Apply It!

Post Sound

Costs $800

Music, Mixing, Mastering, Musicians, Studio Time (we have friends to make this cheap!)

About This Team

We have an amazing team with credits on NBC, Netflix, IFC, Discovery, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, and more. 



In 2011, Luke sold his car, bought a cinema camera, wrote a several screenplays that that placed in contests, and hasn't looked back. He has directed over a dozen shorts and a TV pilot. He has edited on projects for Adobe, Apple, Nike, and more. As a screenwriter he has placed in numerous contests (PAGE, ATX, ISA, and more) and recently won HorrOrigin's Best Feature Screenplay. His films have been in various film festivals (EOFF, Crypticon, Oregon Scream, More). Professionally, he has tech directed over 700 hours of live events including standup and improv specials, late night shows, and more. 

Vines is the project that he feels is ready to leverage into a feature and wants to bring as many people as he can with him. There is a feature version of Vines ready to burst forth from this extremely ambitious body horror short. 


Art Director, SFX Creature Lead, & Producer 

Sophya as producer and art department brings her industry connections and artistic eye to make sure our locations look spectacular. A fan of practical of effects and makeup, Sophya's expertise is crucial to bringing this project to life... to life! 

She has worked on del Toro's Pinocchio (Netflix), Lady and the Dale (HBO) and more. 


A frequent collaborator, Robinton brings an ear for music that provides emotional support for films allowing them to breathe while heightening the tension and impact of the images on screen. When getting the elevator pitch "mad botanist, sentient plants" he said immediately said yes. 

He has worked closely with oscar-nominated Emile Mosseri (Minari, Homecoming) and has worked on Untold (Netfilx), Falling for Ted Bundy (Amazon Prime), and more. 


Executive Producer

Yvonne brings a wealth of connections and industry knowledge. She has worked as an actress and actor (Deja Vu, Midnight Special, 99 Homes). She is instrumental in bringing this project to bear with sights set on using this to make a feature version -- complete with exploding plant dog! 

Executive Producer

Alice is a writer/producer of the 18x award-winning script John Sunshine's Lost Rock N Roll Tapes, now in post-production and Curiosity (Bob McClendon, John Lehr).

Assistant Director 

Katie is a stand up comic,  writer,  and dabbler based in Portland. She has  worked on projects such as  John Sunshine's Lost Rock N Roll Tapes, Insomniac, and Living Creatures.
When she is not working on films she can be found riding her bike or drinking an iced latte.  

1st AC

Script Supervisor 

SFX Makeup

Claire has an impressive list of makeup credits from CryptTV, SyFy, Netflix, and more. She is creating practical SFX makeup for our character transformation as well as select FX elements!

SFX Creature Costumer 


Launching their professional career in the beginning of 2021, Greyson has had the opportunity to work on several incredible Portland based indie films/TV series including “Buried”, “Ellie’s Revenge”, and is taking on his first warewolf transformation as SFX department head in “Night Shift” shooting this Fall. Greyson can’t wait to bring his skills in creature design, fabrication, and painting to “Vines”. 

Creature Performer

Carys (she/ her) is an actor, a health communication professional, and advocate. She works as a Standardized Patient actor and model at various medical training schools in the Portland metro area. Her background in acting started at the community theater level. She gained interest in exploring different opportunities like commercial and short film experiences after moving to Portland in 2018. 
She is very excited to work with the VINES team to become something brilliantly horrifying. Her love for sci/fi and horror as a medium for examining social/political issues fuels the passion behind her involvement in this production.

Set Sound

VFX Storyboards

He’s storyboarded and worked on many features including Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man II, which he’s credited for shooting the test shots for the Doc Ock puppeteer unit, and working closely with the likes of Sam Raimi and John Dykstra.

For seasons at a time, of many TV shows, he has worked as a Storyboard Director and Senior Illustrator - 2 seasons of Salem, 2 seasons of The Orville. Worked with Executive Producer, Nick Copus on Season 3 of Lethal Weapon directing many complex action sequences. Magnum PI, “Books of Blood” (Hulu), and currently on the new Jeff Bridges series, “The Old Man,” with Producer, Judd Rea.

He provided the storyboards for one of our trickiest VFX sequences as well as logos and designs for worldbuilding within the short including the CASCADIA POWER Logo. 

Lowell Deo
ACTOR - Dr. Harold Madson

Lowell has more than 25 years behind the mic as a television reporter and voice-over artist. An Emmy award winner, Lowell has voiced jobs for Nike, Real Networks, Nextel Partners, Car Toys, and Events and Adventures in addition to on-camera gigs for Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and AT&T.

Nearly 50 IMDB credits to his name including Z Nation (SyFy), The Librarians (TNT), GRIMM (NBC) and more! 

ACTOR- Rowan

Joel Austin is an actor and writer who was raised in the Southeast United States. He began writing and performing as a child and never really stopped. He's also a published fiction author, screenwriter, director, and editor. Joel is trained in Shakespeare, Improv, Meisner, and holds several awards and accolades for his previous performances. 

He is no stranger to horror: Welcome to Hell, Salem's Ghosts, Bell Witch Haunting, Dead Therapy. He is the eponymous Harvester in the upcoming film THE HARVESTER and will be seen in the upcoming horror feature I'M FINE (dir. Walter King & Chelsea Real).

Current Team