Serious Play is a feature-length comedic documentary about the International Jugglers Association Festival, where circus people, scientists, and flow artists converge every year to flaunt new tricks with old friends. As a prequel, we are creating a short film that will focus on Sonal Aggarwal, a flow juggler and comedian in Chicago.

Serious Play

by Kate Mason

  • $25,000.00

  • $12,456.00

  • 0

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Los Angeles, United States (US)

In this documentary that combines verite footage with scripted scenes, Serious Play investigates the essential nature of play and performance to our understanding of humanity while asking how even the silliest of institutions can grapple with issues of equity and inclusion. Our interest in juggling stems from our director’s experience going to the juggling festival as a child, where she spent more time watching people and less time learning how to juggle.

This prequel short film will dive deeper into Sonal’s story, a main character in our feature film, as well as demonstrate our artistic style of blending the reality of Sonal’s life as a juggler and a comedian with fictional narrative arcs woven throughout. The short will follow Sonal as she struggles to reconcile her place in her performance communities, which often seem to be at odds. She is even more off-kilter after a one-night stand at a juggling convention led to her getting pregnant by a mime.

Production of the short film will take place in August 2021. Our team is needing funds to hire additional crew, rent equipment, insure the production, travel, lodging, meals through production as well as color, sound, and music for post-production. Your donation will support the many creative hardworking folks contributing to this film!

We are also seeking funders interested in coming onto the project as credited producers! If this sounds exciting and interesting to you, please email [email protected] for more info about the perks and benefits of Executive Producing on our project.

Interested in keeping up with us and hearing about the movie as it progresses to its glorious debut? Sign up here!

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Kate Mason is a writer, performer, and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Her artistic career blossomed in New Orleans, Louisiana where she studied improv, sketch, acting, and drag performance. She is a programmer for the New Orleans Film Festival and co-curator of ImageUnionTV.
She has performed stand-up and sketch comedy across the SouthEast and MidWest. She attended the 2020 UnionDocs Research and Development Lab with her hybrid documentary film about jugglers. She received a Bachelor’s in Art History and Archaeology from Boston University and a Master’s in Art History from Tulane University.

Based in Brooklyn, NY, Lindsey Phillips is known for directing and editing The Exceptionally Extraordinary Emporium, a film about the significance of costuming in New Orleans, and My Name Is Marc, And You Can Count On It, about Cleveland’s late-night commercial cult icon Marc Brown. Her award-winning films have screened at numerous festivals across the country, and been broadcast nationally through the documentary series Reel South. Lindsey has worked on projects that have been featured on The New Yorker, Time Studios, Vox, CNN’s Great Big Story, and the Netflix docu-series Flint Town. She was part of the 2019 UnionDocs CoLab Studio, holds a Certificate in Documentary Arts from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and received her Bachelor’s in Digital Media Production from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Liz Beeson is a Brooklyn-based photographer and producer who focuses on story and discovery. Her work has appeared in Curbed, NY Magazine,,, Harness Magazine, New York Upstate Magazine, The Today Show, and Thrillist. During her time in New Orleans, Liz produced and served as the production manager for an original series called Sunken City, hailed by the press as ‘the New Portlandia’ and featured on Indiewire’s list of web series that could be ‘the Next Broad City.’ Liz is currently serving as the executive producer on a feature-length documentary about the history of oysters in the NY Harbor. In addition, Liz also produces, edits, and co-hosts an award-winning podcast called On the Virge, which is all about your first time having sex. Liz received a Bachelor’s in Journalism from Middle Tennessee State University, was part of the 2018 National Arts Strategy cohort earning a certification in Arts and Culture Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently receiving a certificatIon in Diversity and Inclusion at Cornell University.

Story Producer
Swetha Regunathan is an award-winning writer and filmmaker based in NYC. She grew up in and around the fallow strip malls of central New Jersey and will never be able to write her way out of that one. She is currently an MFA candidate in the Graduate Film program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Swetha was selected to participate in the 2020 Cine Qua Non Storylines Lab and the inaugural 1497 South Asian Writers Lab with her feature in development, Sundarbans – a magic realist drama about a rapidly sinking paradise. She is a 2020-21 IFP Marcie Bloom Fellow. Her short films have received awards from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Peter S. Reed Foundation, and the BlueCat Screenplay Competition. She has been a finalist for the SHOWTIME® Tony Cox Screenplay Contest, on the shortlist for a Lexus Short Films award, and in the final round of the Sundance New Voices Lab. Her work has screened at several festivals and venues and on NoBudge. Swetha produced If There Is Light, a short documentary about a family living in a shelter in NYC. The film premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and streamed on Le Cinéma Club and Hulu.


DONATIONS ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE.   Please note donations made via credit card incur 3% fees.  If that’s something you want to avoid, email [email protected] to set up a wire or bank transfer. Or, checks can be sent to UnionDocs 352 Onderdonk Ave., Ridgewood NY, 11385 (please make it clear it’s for this project).