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A feature-length documentary about an absurdist internet persona and the search for genuine human connection.
A feature-length documentary about an absurdist internet persona and the search for genuine human connection.
A feature-length documentary about an absurdist internet persona and the search for genuine human connection.
209 backers pledged $50,127 to help bring this project to life.

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MESSIAHSEZ: The Messiah Lives in Brooklyn

$50,127

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The Story.

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.

Friesland, The Netherlands
Friesland, The Netherlands

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.

Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn, NY

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, UntouchableTrophy, 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.

Remaining Post-Production Budget
Remaining Post-Production Budget

The Audience.

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.

The Influences.

The Team.

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, TrophyUntouchable, 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

The Rewards.

See a few tangible gifts of thanks below, and some super unique ones on the list to the right.

T-Shirt
T-Shirt
Sticker Pack
Sticker Pack
Guitar bottleneck slide and picks
Guitar bottleneck slide and picks
Rock Art!
Rock Art!

↬ Follow us on Instagram • Twitter • Facebook 

↬ 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. ;)

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Yo!

    You'll get project updates, love and respect on social media, and bragging rights for backing, of course.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Private Playlist

    Unlock the man's YouTube vault with private access to a playlist curated by the filmmakers of never-before-pubished Messiahsez videos. You haven't seen weird if you haven't watched the playlist.

    Includes:
    • All Previous Rewards
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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    The Documentary

    Three incredible words for one fabulous reward: digital download link. Yes, you'll have the finished film!

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    60 backers
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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    The Documentary with Commentary

    A download of the finished film PLUS a download of the finished film with running commentary by Messiahsez and the Director. So deep.

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    23 backers
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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Meme-orabilia

    Become your most viral self. Tell us your name and favorite keywords and Messiahsez himself will generate your very own meme and post to socials.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Sticker Collector Pack

    Just think how good it'll feel for everyone stuck in traffic behind you to read 'Sauna or Die' 'YoTube' 'BARUCHLYN' and become a better person. 6x stickers, friends! (See photos of them in project description.)

    Includes:
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Blues Guitar Pack

    Open D, Open G... You'll be profesh playing in any key. Get a Mississippi Booze Blues hand-made bottleneck guitar slide, and 2x limited edition guitar picks with Messiahsez key art.

    Includes:
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Sauna Pack

    Ahhh the sauna. Gain admission to NYC's Russian & Turkish Baths, not to mention the increased chances of meeting Messiahsez IRL.

    Includes:
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    Limited 7 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Voicemail Greeting

    Is that God? No, it's even better. Tell Messiahsez what to say, or have your message be an inspired surprise.

    Includes:
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    Limited 9 backers
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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Limited Edition T-Shirt

    Your fave new tee will be this 100% cotton, pre-shrunk, silk-screened beauty. Only the finest quality.

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    • All Previous Digital Rewards
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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Secret Screening - Kickstarter Exclusive

    What do NYC, LONDON, LOS ANGELES, and SYDNEY have in common? Secret Messiahsez screenings! Meet new friends and renew old friendships at a very special screening only for our Kickstarter supporters at this level. You get TWO TICKETS, so bring a friend. The event includes refreshments and a mellow vibe, and will take place around the time of our North American or International Premiere. You will receive dates and details with advanced notice.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Brooklyn Rocks - Kickstarter Exclusive

    Literally take home a piece of Brooklyn with Elizabeth Saloka's ROCK ART. Messiahsez keeps one on his desk at all times, and now you can too. This limited-edition food-themed rock will be mailed to you with love.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Guitar Lesson from Messiahsez

    Take a group guitar lesson from the man himself. You and a few other guitar students will virtually meet in the Messiahsez living room.

    Includes:
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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Special Thanks

    YES! We couldn't do this without you. Your name will be immortalized with 'Special Thanks' in the scrolling credits, plus a credit on IMDB.

    Includes:
    • All Previous Digital Rewards
    • T-Shirt
    • Secret Screening Tickets
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    Pledge $800 or more About $800

    Dinner for Four at Otis

    A memorable night awaits in (very HIP) Bushwick for you and three guests. Enjoy Chef Carver's special tasting menu (as in the entire menu) with a bottle of wine to help you indulge in the charming, cozy interiors.

    Includes:
    • Secret Screening Tickets
    • T-Shirt
    • All Previous Digital Rewards
    • Special Thanks in Credits and IMDB
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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Personalized Messiahsez Song

    Messiahsez will write and record a song just for you or the person of your choosing and publish on his YouTube channel. You provide keywords or description and Messiahsez will turn them into a meaningful, rhymed, feel good tune. What could be better?

    Includes:
    • All Previous Digital Rewards
    • Special Thanks in Credits and IMDB
    • Secret Screening Tickets
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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    Host a Screening

    Host a private screening for all your friends with your name in the credits. Do it at home, rent a space and have your friends pitch in, or project Messiahsez onto the moon. Afterwards, moderate an in-person or Skype Q&A with the filmmakers.

    Includes:
    • T-Shirt
    • Secret Screening Tickets
    • Special Thanks in Credits and IMDB
    • All Previous Digital Rewards
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 2 backers
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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Associate Producer

    OMG HOLY COW THANK YOU for your astounding generosity!!! We warmly welcome you to the team's inner circle as an ASSOCIATE PRODUCER with your name prominently in the credits and on IMDB. Here's the deal: we are going to organize one incredible night for you and your friends. First, we will treat you and three guests to a classy yet tasteful dinner at your favorite local upscale restaurant. Then we will arrange a screening party for you and your guests at a surprise, very special location in your area. We are bringing a Messiahsez film festival to you! *This reward does not include air travel, so if you wish for the director to come to you that will require buying a round trip ticket out of NY.

    Includes:
    • Secret Screening Tickets
    • T-Shirt
    • All Previous Digital Rewards
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    Limited 1 backer
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Funding period

- (30 days)