A 65-year-old Brooklyn man with a flowing messianic white beard spends his days in front of an iPhone making YouTube videos. Under the screen name Messiahsez, Dennis lambasts popular New York bike lanes, creates satirical tutorials for baking artisanal kale chips, records self-proclaimed “shitty guitar instructional videos,” and espouses pseudo-religious rhetoric.
Leaving behind his life as a workaholic industrial tools salesman with a hair-trigger temper, Dennis went on a mushroom trip that took him on a transformative journey, and emerged as an absurdist internet personality. His mission: the transmission of love and beauty in all things. His unique brand of verbal diarrhea and surreal comedy resonates with people across the internet, attracting a large following of devoted disciples.
One of them is Vincent, a 22 year-old on the other side of the Atlantic, in a rural town in The Netherlands. Dennis meets Vincent on YouTube through their mutual interest in blues guitar. An unlikely friendship blossoms, and they share intimate conversations everyday over Skype.
After an operation to treat a rare form of cancer, Vincent’s health takes a turn for the worst and he falls into a coma. Dennis wants to make the pilgrimage to meet in real life, but he may never get the chance to know Vincent beyond the computer screen.
Messiahsez takes us from the streets of Jewish New York to the sheep pastures of The Netherlands, through deep reaches of cyberspace and into the brain of a singular personality, whose life demonstrates the human need for genuine friendship in the internet age.
Why make this now? How? Real talk.
- Putting new and challenging films out in the world is important.
- It costs a lot of money and tons of time to make a feature documentary.
- Making said work can only be self-funded for so long.
Even with years of experience and a network of talented friends, the reality for artists in the US is that self-funding long-term projects is not sustainable. There are very limited institutional and private funding opportunities. However, with your support, and not being beholden to institutional funding, we're free to make the best, truest version of this film.
Messiahsez is a Meerkat Media co-production, with some very talented filmmakers behind features like Dark Money, Brasslands, Untouchable, Trophy, Stray Dog, Island Soldier, and Narco Cultura donating invaluable time and resources. This is how we've been able to keep costs as low as possible.
However, as we continue to edit the film, hard costs set in, and donated time isn't enough to bring us to the finish line. Our remaining costs are in the neighborhood of $80k. If we do not raise $50k – the minimum needed for bringing the film from its current stage to a fine cut for festival submission – we cannot afford to continue editing and must pause work on the film indefinitely. Raising $50k enables us to finish the edit while seeking partnerships and additional funds for post-production costs.
Redditors, YouTube makers, stoner comedy-watchers, people who have made friends over the internet, and good ol’ documentary lovers, this film is for you. And you! If you like any of our influences below, or are curious enough to have read this far, we think you will enjoy the documentary. By supporting this campaign at any level, you are making a bold statement that independent film is important and sending a message to distributors that there is an appetite for oddball films.
Director / Writer / Producer ADAM POGOFF has been producing and directing feature documentary films since 2009. His films Brasslands (2013, The Orchard) and Untouchable (2016, Tribeca Winner) screened at over 70 festivals and in theaters around the world. Shorts he has produced have published by the New York Times Op-Docs, the Marshall Project, The Washington Post, NBC.com. Adam has been a member of the Meerkat Media Collective since 2009.
Editor SAMIN POGOFF is a Brooklyn-based documentary filmmaker. Samin's editing and producing work has been broadcast on HBO, BBC and History Channel. She was an editor on the founding team of HBO's Vice News Tonight. Samin has been a member in residence at Meerkat Media Collective since 2014 and is currently an editing mentee at Karen Schmeer Diversity Program.
Producer DARA MESSINGER is the Director of Public Programs at DCTV where she oversees the honored organization’s filmmaker services, education, outreach and partnerships, and serves as the programmer for its signature DCTV Presents screening and event series. Dara has been a member of Meerkat Media since 2008, and co-directed Brasslands.
Consulting Editor JAY ARTHUR STERRENBERG is a Canadian-American documentary director & editor whose work has appeared in theaters, on HBO, Arte, ESPN, and PBS. Documentary editing credits include Dark Money (Sundance in competition, 2018), Trophy (Sundance, 2017), Untouchable, Narco Cultura (Cinedigm, 2013), Academy Award nominated Redemption (HBO, 2013), and Emmy nominated Section 60 (HBO, 2008).
Composer LJOVA is a musician, arranger and composer whose works are commissioned and premiered by renowned ensembles including The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Kronos Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, Matmos, and the San Francisco Symphony among others.
Co-Production MEERKAT MEDIA COLLECTIVE was founded as an informal arts collective in 2005, and has grown to include a collective of 15 filmmakers in residence and a cooperatively-owned production company. Their work has been broadcast on HBO, PBS, and many other networks, and screened at festivals worldwide. Documentaries co-produced or in association with Meerkat include Dark Money, Trophy, Untouchable, Island Soldier (2016, HotDocs), Stray Dog (2014, PBS), Brasslands, and Narco Cultura. Meerkats are committed to a collaborative, consensus-based process that values the creation of thoughtful and provocative stories that reflect a complex world.
Plus: Meade Bernard, Composer • Eric Phillips-Horst, Alison Brockhouse, Jeffrey Sterrenberg, Jay Arthur Sterrenberg, Bryan Chang, Karim Tabbaa, Jovon Outlaw, Cinematography • Jen Atella, Assistant Editor • Deepti Menon, Animation • Esy Casey, Graphic Design • Alessandra Lacorozza, Director of Kickstarter Video
See a few tangible gifts of thanks below, and some super unique ones on the list to the right.
↬ Share Kickstarter link with friends: http://kck.st/2jSWrfn
↬ Website: messiahsezfilm.com
Risks and challenges
Our promise to you is two-fold: 1) We will not rush to finish the film prematurely and compromise the quality. 2) We will make every effort to finish the film in a timely manner, meaning that we will continue editing without long pauses. How can you trust we'll deliver? We have a track record of releasing feature films that premiere at the world's top festivals, go on to receive domestic and international distribution, and air on television. Simply put, this Kickstarter campaign is a very public announcement and means finishing the film is the only option. ;)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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