With members of the arts community still struggling to find work during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gottlieb is hoping to open a studio of his own in Queens. He envisions a space where local artists pay a minimal fee to create their webisodes, shows or podcasts.
“A lot of my friends who work in the artistic community are just hurting,” he said. “They’re not getting any sort of support or backup.”
To jumpstart those plans, Gottlieb is developing a series of film projects to bring attention to the effort. One of the projects he has been working on is called “Lost,” a fan film of the “Friday the 13th” franchise.
The premise of the film is simple. A group of young influencers is participating in a series of challenges for social media. They are paid to test out a new app, which leads them to a dark forest that is Camp Crystal Lake.
“The next thing you know, they are being hunted,” Gottlieb said. “The story continues from there.”
Gottlieb got the idea after seeing a number of talented filmmakers making fan films about the franchise, of which he is a fan. He decided to “jump on the bandwagon,” especially as the “Friday the 13th” series is in limbo due to licensing problems.
The local filmmaker said his interest in the film, as well as the genre, dates back to when he was a Boy Scout leader many years ago. His troop used to go on many campouts, which Gottlieb said were always the same.
One day, he convinced the scout master to host a campout close to October. After running ahead on a hike, he buried himself in makeshift gravesite, popped out and chased the troop.
Gottlieb said playing Jason Voorhees was his first-ever cosplay.
“It was so much fun,” he said. “Something like that resonated with me.”
Working with an ensemble cast, Gottlieb is planning to release the 50-minute film on August 13, 2021, which happens to be a Friday. His team has already been putting up flyers around Kew Gardens.
“I went around to different shop owners in the neighborhood,” said Hanna Fierstein, one of the actresses in the film. “Everyone just seemed really excited.
“Especially around Halloween time, people just needed something more fun to brighten up their spirit,” she added, “especially as a lot of things aren’t going on this year.”
To raise funds for the project, Gottlieb has launched an online Indiegogo campaign with a goal of $20,000. So far, 31 backers have given more than $1,600 to the project, which will be used for camera rentals, makeup and effects, transportation, craft services and more.
Gottlieb said donations are “everything,” and encouraged fans and others to support the project.
“I understand times are tough, I’m not expecting people to break the bank,” he said. “We’re not here to make a profit, we’re here to make a film, have a great time, get people working again and do what we can for our community.”
If the project exceeds its fundraising goal on Indiegogo, Gottlieb plans to donate the remaining proceeds to Jamaica Hospital’s Pediatrics Department, a cause he cares about deeply.
“These children are stuck, some have horrible diseases and they’re in there for very long periods of time,” he said. “The doctors are amazing, but they need more support and funding.”