PONY — a short film by Halo Rossetti
In PONY, our protagonist, Zoe, a late-'90s genderqueer pre-teen, defies a grieving mother to embody their true gender and sexual identities in the wake of a family tragedy. Zoe uncovers her gender at a time where all trans representation in the media was either harmful and peripheral, or absent.
Mission StatementPONY is created by an-all LGBTQ+ team with the common goal of achieving gender, sexual, and racial diversity on film and on set. At our helm is Halo Rossetti, a nonbinary writer/director who has been making queer video, art, and film for over a decade. PONY especially highlights at-risk trans youth.
About The Project
*PONY is fiscally sponsored by The Film Collaborative, a 501(c)3 organization. All donations are tax deductible.
Hey Ponies! Welcome to our fundraiser for PONY, a very special short film about a genderqueer preteen coming of age in the late-90s, when access to trans information and representation was inaccurate and scarce.
We are raising $26,000 to fund our movie, with a stretch goal of $30,000 to cover post-production costs.
Please visit our website here, and please keep reading to hear all about our film.
As we raise funds to bring this trans film project to life, we ask that all funders consider making a matching donation to The Okra Project, a collective that seeks to address the global crisis faced by Black Trans people by bringing home-cooked, healthy, and culturally-specific meals and resources to Black Trans People wherever they can reach them.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone on this earth. Our way of life will never be the same. And yet, we must keep telling our stories: stories of hope and resilience in the face of uncertain and terrifying circumstances. PONY is one of those stories.
From a health and safety perspective, our producer, Kathryn Foley, has created a stringent set of COVID-19 set safety procedures and protocols, which will be enforced on set by our Health and Safety Supervisor (HSS) and Health and Safety Regulators (HSR), who double as the crew department heads. Each crew will be in their own pod, with rotating hand-washing breaks, separate meals and expendables, and sanitation supplies constantly available on set. All cast and crew will be required to test COVID-negative before arriving on set. Any breach in protocol that is not immediately rectified by the offending party will result in immediate dismissal from the set. To read more about our COVID-19 set safety protocols, please visit our website here.
From a location perspective, we are shooting Chalfont, Pennsylvania, which is currently in Green status. If this status reverts back to Red, we will postpone shooting dates until it is in Green again.
From an employment perspective, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an especially exhaustive impact on the world of freelance artists, many of whom make up our Cast and Crew. Hundreds of thousands of entertainment workers are currently unemployed. We are partially creating this film during this time to employ queer, trans, and POC crew members at a time when employment opportunities are scarce. Approximately 50% of our fundraising goal solely covers wages for Cast and Crew.
PONY is a genderqueer take on the traditional coming-of-age narrative. Set in the late-90s, our protagonist, Zoe, a masculine-of-center preteen who is AFAB (assigned female at birth), defies the gender expectations of their mother and best friend as they grieve the death of their twin sibling. This story is based on my (director Halo Rossetti's) own experience as a gender-confused millennial child growing up in the '90s and '00s, in a thoroughly haunted house.
PONY also unfolds against the backdrop of the epidemic of queer and trans youth suicides that affect my community every day. The rate of LGBTQ suicides is disturbingly high amongst children and youth. LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (Massachusetts Department of Education, 2009).
More than half of transgender male teens who participated in a survey recently published by the American Academy of Pediatrics reported attempting suicide in their lifetime, while 29.9 percent of transgender female teens said they attempted suicide. Among non-binary youth, 41.8 percent of respondents stated that they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives.
Through the creation of PONY, I wish to bring visibility to at-risk LGBTQ teens. Identifying as non-binary and using they/them pronouns, I understand the struggle of questioning one’s identity in a binary-heteronormative world and how isolating that experience becomes.
Prevention and elimination of these deaths are only possible through building acceptance, awareness, and characters with whom these children can identify.
My name is Halo Rossetti (they/them), and I am a queer and nonbinary artist and filmmaker. In my work I center the queer and trans experience, from my own perspective, and from the identities that intersect with my own. As previously mentioned, this film weaves together my personal experience growing up as a gender-confused millennial child in the '90s and ’00s, against the backdrop of LGBTQ queer youth suicide, which affects my community every day.
With my years of queer community building and visual storytelling experience (MFA in Film and Media Arts, Temple University, 2021) I believe that I am the right person to tell this timely story. I hope that you will join me on this journey.
Not only is there an epidemic of LGBTQ suicides in this country, but our community is now faced with a pandemic of a different sort. The social fallout from COVID-19 will be just as all-encompassing as the financial one, and LGBTQ people have already been particularly affected.
We are the more likely to be immunocompromised (HIV/AIDS) and smokers, and our community is more reluctant to seek out care due to discrimination (National LGBT Cancer Network, 2019). Not only this, but our community is still traumatized by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, a virus that decimated our numbers and left my generation without many queer elders to look up to.
The impact of COVID-19 expands beyond even this, as LGBTQ youth are being forced out of their college dorms and back home with their families, many of whom are not accepting of their gender and sexual identities. Over 100 anti-LGBTQ bills have been passed since Trump’s inauguration, and the number continues to rise as the world is distracted by COVID-19.
We need accurate, enlivening LGBTQ stories, media representation, and solidarity in the film industry. Now more than ever, we are stronger together.
Whether you are apart of the LGBTQ+ community or in solidarity with us, we hope that you will consider joining us on this journey.
Out of every one-hundred dollars ($100 USD) awarded by foundations in the United States, only three cents are focused on transgender communities (LGBT Funders, 2020).
Through this crowdfunding campaign, we hope to not only fundraise for our project, but raise awareness for our cause, and bring together a community of LGBTQ+ folks and allies.
By joining our campaign and supporting us, you can help us to make the world a more inclusive and possible place.
Use the WishList to pledge cash and loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an incentive directly.
About This Team
Halo Rossetti (they/them) is a Philadelphia-based writer, director, performer, and artist, worldbuilding positive futures in the husk of the capitalist experiment. Rossetti is currently pursuing their MFA in Film and Media Arts at Temple University, specializing in directing. Rossetti’s short film, SUNRIDER, premiered at Les Femmes Underground International Film Festival in Phoenix, AZ in September 2018. Rossetti’s short film, The French Chef with Julia Child: Abortifacient Herbs, was a finalist in Get Free Film Fest in Los Angeles 2019 and was the featured video for Vox Populi’s 4th Wall film and video program, September–October 2019. Rossetti is currently a finalist in the Tribeca Film Institute/Sloan Foundation Student Science and Discovery Award 2020, and a juror for qFLIX Philadelphia 2020.
KATHRYN R FOLEY
Kathryn R Foley (she/her) is an emerging independent screenwriter and producer based in the east coast. She is currently working as Showrunner and Executive Producer of Imperfect the Series, an anthology web series exploring individuals’ experiences with body image. Each episode shows a unique character and story from topics ranging to body shape, standardized beauty, disabilities, race, and gender/trans identity. Continuing her work on this series, Foley ultimately hopes to bring unique narratives and diverse collaboration together in hopes of creating a greater representation in film and television.
Director of Photography
Madeleine Bishop (she/her) is a Philadelphia-based professional cinematographer, currently pursuing her MFA in Film and Media Arts at Temple University. Maddie was the director of photography on Lindsay Vitale’s short film High Tide, which was officially selected for Temple University’s Diamond Screen: Women’s Fest in 2019. Maddie’s experimental documentary thesis film, Doctor’s Creek No. 1, is currently in post-production. Maddie and Halo recently collaborated on Feathers Wise’s music video, Your Love Is Giving Me Life, currently in post-production, for which Maddie was the director of photography.
Hutch Hutchinson (they/them) is a production designer, art director, producer, builder, and prop master based in New York City. A dynamic queer raised in a Broadway theater family, they have forged their passion for intricate design with a penchant for efficient execution and have found a vibrant home in the center of the film world. Throughout the year, they work in the art departments of films ranging from shorts to features, including Monsters and Men, The Goldfinch, Woman in the Window, and West Side Story. They serve as a co-producer for DapperQ, a driving force behind some of the largest queer fashion shows in the world at institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum and The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. Their heart lies in nourishing community ties through creative expression, creating intersectional sets and spaces in which folks can feel safe and seen while being emboldened and supported in making their visions become reality.
Meaghan “Wilbs” Wilbur is a producer and filmmaker whose work focuses on the intersection of art and advocacy. Their producing career includes award winning feature films like Deb Shoval’s AWOL and Cat Papadimitriou’s Nia On Vacation. They are best known for their editing work on HBO’s 2 Dope Queens, and Bola Ogun’s award winning short film “Are We Good Parents?” Their editorial career spans a diverse range of projects and genres, from subversive cult comedy Wonder Showzen to groundbreaking Netflix comedy AJ and the Queen. As part of their ongoing commitment to mentoring emerging talent in post production, Wilbur has served as an executive committee member for the Blue Collar Post Collective. They are thrilled to be joining the PONY team.