Funded! This project was successfully funded on March 6, 2013.


An NYU Senior Thesis Film about the aftermath of the discovery of the gay gene and those who seek to profit from it.


To watch the Kickstarter Video in HD, CLICK HERE!

QUICK VERSION: One year following the discovery of the "gay gene," Dr. Catherine Heyman is shocked at the betrayal of her closest colleague and his role in the creation of an alleged "cure."

A LITTLE MORE DETAIL: A year after announcing the discovery of the gay gene, DR. CATHERINE HEYMAN returns to work following maternity leave to find that she has been betrayed by a close colleague. The company has been developing a drug to “cure” homosexuality at its genetic source. Moreover, Catherine discovers that the drug’s development began prior to her absence. The announcement to the public regarding the start of human trials ambushes Catherine and forces her to make a decision: stand by her company or attempt to stop the drug from ever being released.



Cartherine Concept Art by Tiara Lavitt
Cartherine Concept Art by Tiara Lavitt

DR. CATHERINE HEYMAN, Protagonist: A well-educated, open-minded and tenacious scientist, Dr. Catherine Heyman has dedicated the last decade of her life to finding the biological source of homosexuality alongside her professional partner Dr. Noah Cobb. Having just returned from a year of press conferences and maternity leave, Catherine is shocked to learn of the betrayal of her company and her friend in the creation of a pharmaceutical cure. Faced with the moral and ethical implications of such news, Catherine is forced to make a decision: back the company and the new drug or take the steps necessary to stop it from proceeding further, risking her own job and the security of her new family.

CYRUS TOULABI, Writer/Director: 

Cyrus Toulabi is currently a senior at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts studying Film and Television Production. He believes that successful filmmakers are those who immerse themselves in the craft and learn every aspect of the process. Cyrus directs, writes, edits, and produces his own scripts and those of other students.

At age 15, Cyrus received the 2007 National Student Emmy Award for Excellence in the Entertainment & Arts/Cultural Affairs category for his weekly high school television series. He was flown out to New York City and was honored by the National Academy for Television Arts and Sciences. With internships at MTV, ABC's LIVE! with Regis and Kelly, Howcast Media, Showtime Networks, and Focus Features, Cyrus aspires to jump into the field immediately after graduation in May 2013.

Check out the trailer to Cyrus's award-winning last film:

I BELIEVE there is nothing more important than writing what you know and what you care about. First of all, our protagonist is geneticist DR. CATHERINE HEYMAN, a tenacious, determined, and strong woman. Over the years, I have found myself drawn to these types of characters–in my own work and in film and television I enjoy–but it wasn’t until the last year that I realized why. My mother had battled cancer four times in four years. Unfortunately, this past October, she lost her battle. Nonetheless, my mother’s strong spirit, captivating personality and perseverance have had profound effects on my life and have made their way into my own work. For me, Catherine represents my mother’s spirit. Catherine worked tirelessly for over a decade to put the genetic argument to rest. Unfortunately, her work has now been manipulated into something she had never intended, and despite the fact that her original battle has ended in victory, she finds herself compelled to continue to fight for what’s right. 

Additionally, I have always found the field fascinating and I enjoy reading articles about new discoveries and on-going studies. It's perhaps the "nerdy" side of myself I don't share very often. I love sci-fi films, but it was important for me to set this film in a world very much like today. I was intrigued by the real world implications of such a discovery and the people behind it. That's my favorite part of The Gene-- IT COULD HAPPEN. Catherine's story is compelling because not only is her personal struggle so captivating, but every decision and every action affects the whole world. I believe I am the best person to tell this captivating tale with the backdrop of current hot topic, global issues and media hype. I also believe that this film has potential for success in festivals and perhaps even one day becoming a feature.

Making movies is hard work. Luckily, we have a team of dedicated individuals with special skills and the drive and passion to make it happen. 

Unfortunately, no matter how much passion we may have, filmmaking isn't cheap

Here are just a few of the ways that your contribution will support our film:

FOOD: This is perhaps the most important ingredient to a successful film. A well fed crew is a happy crew. A happy crew makes a great movie. All of our crew members are working for free! The only thing they ask for in return is something hot to eat.

EQUIPMENT: NYU provides us with a basic equipment package as a part of the senior allotment. However, the package is called basic for a reason. We still have to rent tons of lights, safety equipment, accessories and last, but most certainly not least, our camera. Thankfully, the rental houses in NYC are used to working with students and even offer student discounts! That being said, renting a top of the line camera like the ARRI ALEXA to make our film look incredible still adds up.

TRAVEL: Metrocards, Cargo Vans, Cargo Trucks – to transport equipment and people.

ART: Set decorations, wardrobe, make up, hair products, accessories, and props-- All of the things that make a movie, well, cinematic.

"I believe a director is only as strong as those who he surrounds himself with. A film is not made by an individual, it is made by a team." -- Cyrus Toulabi


BEN DEWEY, Director of Photography:
Ben Dewey was born and raised at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Denver, Colorado. In 2000, he purchased his first 2.1 megapixel camera and was PSYCHED. He immediately fell in love. In high school, he began taking video cameras on mountain climbing trips and began making adventure documentaries. Now, he lives in New York and shoots narrative films, music videos, and documentaries, but his mind still spends a lot of time in the mountains. He was the Director of Photography on Cyrus's last film Passersby and is looking forward to collaborating with Cyrus again on "The Gene."

Check out the trailer to Ben and Cyrus's last film:

Early Storyboard Sketch
Early Storyboard Sketch

NARA DEMURO, Production Designer:
Nara DeMuro is a senior film student at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Hailing from the suburbs of Detroit, Nara has always had an active imagination and got her start directing and stage managing school musicals. When she's not directing, this filmmaker often serves as a production designer or assistant director on fellow students' work. She enjoys bringing a script's aesthetics to life and will always let her designs reflect the vision of the film. Her work can be seen in over twenty student films as well as a PSA for the University of Michigan's "Stay in the Blue" campaign. Nara also currently works in the publicity department for 20th Century Fox. She is very excited to be a part of The Gene and has the utmost respect for director and friend, Cyrus Toulabi.

Early Wardrobe Sketch
Early Wardrobe Sketch


John McGinnis is is a recent graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts where he majored in Film & Television Production, with minors in Business Studies and Producing. Originally from a small Chicago suburb, John first became interested in filmmaking in 6th grade when he and his friends found his Dad's old VHS camcorder and decided to make an action movie to pass the time. Since coming to New York City, John has produced several short films and been involved in countless others including the upcoming feature-length sci-fi movie, Europa (2013). In addition to producing, he enjoys writing short stories, golfing, and running. John continues to produce films and will begin his career in advertising and entertainment later this year. John is looking forward to continuing his working relationship with Cyrus on The Gene.

Alexa Whiteside attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, graduating with honors in 2012 with a degree in film and television and minors in producing, psychology and the business of entertainment, media & technology. Attending courses taught by talented filmmakers and professionals, her professors included the likes of HBO's Andrew Goldman, E!'s Bruce Perlmutter, MTV's Randy Davis Levin, television director Gary Shimokawa and Attorney at Law, Richard M. Hendler.

Quickly emerging as a leader among her peers, Alexa took on her first producer role in her freshman year for senior thesis film, Only Criminals (2009). The film went on to perform well at various film festivals including NYU's First Run Festival, Action on Film International Film Festival and the 2010 Big Apple Film Festival. Since that first producing position, Alexa has continued to produce various short films, ranging from a 1940s Spain period piece to a Wizard of Oz like fantasy-drama. Professionally, Alexa's most recent work was as an assistant to famed indie-casting director Susan Shopmaker assisting in the casting of such films as Rob Reiner's The Magic of Belle Isle (2012), Michael Pitt produced and starring, You Can't Win (2013) and Killer Film produced, Deep Powder (2013).

CAROLINA VAZQUEZ, Associate Producer: 
Carolina Vazquez is currently a sophomore at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts majoring in Film and Television production and minoring in Latino Studies. Born and raised in sunny Santa Monica, California, she began telling stories before she could form words. Soon her gibberish turned into full-fledged stories that gave her the dream to become a writer. In high school she attended a film production class and was handed a camera. Seeing her stories come to life opened up a new world of filmmaking and she has not stopped making projects since. In her freshman year at NYU, Carolina met Cyrus on an NYU student film set in which she was a production assistant, 2nd assistant camera, and art director (all on separate days, of course). The two have worked on several projects since and Carolina is excited to work once again with her dear friend.

Sydney Stanback is a Chicago native and currently a senior at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study concentrating in international politics and media studies. She has extensive international experience and has studied abroad at NYU's Paris, Prague, and Florence sites. In Prague, she interned at a non-profit organization named People in Need, and worked as a reporter at Prague's annual Forum 2000 Conference. During the summer of 2011, she worked as an administrative intern at Shepherdstown's "Contemporary American Theater Festival," and during the second half of junior year in college she worked as a Public Affairs intern at MTV Networks within Viacom. This fall, she was a Public Affairs, Corporate Responsibility, and Communications Intern within Viacom's Entertainment Group which networks consist of Comedy Central, TV Land, and Spike TV. She is currently interning at NBCUniversal's Corporate Social Responsibility office and will be graduating New York University May 2013. She loves traveling, photography, the Chicago Bulls, and Beyonce (...but mostly Beyonce).





Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Some of the risks and challenges that come with making a film such as this involve securing locations that accommodate a film of this size and scope. Even when the proper paperwork has been filled out and payment has been made, when the large crew arrives and unloads the truckload of equipment, the location owners often double back on granting permission. To prevent losing a location the day of shooting, we like to paint the location owner a very accurate picture of exactly what will be going on during the day. If they still are apprehensive on the day of the shoot, the producers and I will demonstrate all of the precautions we take to uphold the integrity of the location. If we are storing equipment at the location, we will place it out of sight and at the end of the day, we will clean the location and make it look just as it was (if not cleaner) when we first arrived.


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

Ask a question
pledged of $6,500 goal
seconds to go
  • Pledge $5 or more
    You selected

    14 backers

    Donate $5 or more and we will send you a shout out on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr or a thank you card for your contribution to the film.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $10 or more
    You selected

    31 backers

    Donate $10 or more and you will receive a social media shout out or a thank you card, PLUS a collection of promotional set pictures.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $25 or more
    You selected

    16 backers

    Donate $25 or more and you will receive a social media shout out or a thank you card, a collection of promotional set pictures, PLUS a social media personalized thank you video.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $50 or more
    You selected

    11 backers

    Donate $50 or more and you will receive a social media shout out or a thank you card, a collection of promotional set pictures, a social media personalized thank you video, PLUS a "Special Thanks" credit in the final film.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $100 or more
    You selected

    19 backers

    Donate $100 or more and you will receive a social media shout out or a thank you card, a collection of promotional set pictures, a thank you video, "Special Thanks" credit in the film, PLUS a DVD copy of the film.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $250 or more
    You selected

    1 backer

    Donate $250 or more and you will receive all of the above, PLUS a final printed poster of the film.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $500 or more
    You selected

    2 backers

    Donate $500 or more and you will receive all of the above, PLUS a signed DVD by the cast, director and producers of the film.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $1,000 or more
    You selected

    1 backer

    Donate $1,000 or more and you will receive all of the above, PLUS an opportunity to attend a "meet and greet" with the cast and crew of the film.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $2,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers

    Donate $2,000 or more and you will receive all of the above, PLUS an invitation to the New York City or Chicago premiere of the film.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $5,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers

    Donate $5,000 or more and you will receive all of the above, PLUS the option to have a walk-on role in the film.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $10,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    Any donation of $10,000 or more will get you all of the above AND earn you an Executive Producer credit on the film.

    Estimated delivery:
Funding period

- (30 days)