Standing Up needs you!

Your tax-deductible donation will help finish this story of comedy, honesty, and identity.

Standing Up A Project of Documentaries


Standing Up is a feature-length documentary following three unlikely aspiring stand-up comics risking everything for a chance at the spotlight.


David Finklestein is an ultra-Orthodox Jew who dreams of becoming the next Louis C.K. Although he risks expulsion from his community, David's passion is his way of coping with his crippling social anxiety. He's forced to juggle two irreconcilable worlds, knowing he must eventually make a choice. Sara Parks moved to New York to become a stand-up star, but is barely scraping by. At risk of becoming homeless, she's under incredible pressure to break into comedy before it breaks her. Raafat Toss is a successful personal injury lawyer and Coptic preacher whose Egyptian immigrant parents forbade him from pursuing stand-up. After a life by the books, he's finally ready to chase his dreams.

As their love of comedy is tested again and again, each comic must ultimately decide just how far they're willing to go -- and what they're willing to sacrifice -- for a laugh.


An Orthodox Jew, a personal injury lawyer, and a janitor walking into an open mic may sound like a joke, but it's the stuff of pure drama. Over the last four years, we've followed Sara, David, and Raafat as they sacrifice their livelihoods, relationships and dignities for their dreams.

Many comedy documentaries revolve around interviews with established icons, but we were fascinated by the underdogs, the ones struggling at the start of their journey. Our film falls into the vérite tradition of films like Hoop Dreams, tracking our comics through select, intimate vignettes over an extended period of time. We witness their profound transformations, and understand how they translate the messy circumstances of their lives into the perfect punch line. We see David slowly venturing into the decidedly un-Orthodox waters of the comedy world, Sara facing up to the increasingly harsh realities of pursuing her dreams while dead broke, and Raafat learning to truly own up to his vulnerabilities—the hard way.

We've always loved stand-up comedy, and admired its incredible power to turn painful truths, such as anxiety, poverty, or disillusionment, into a cathartic experience for both performer and audience. Standing Up is a movie about how that power transforms the lives of three very different people chasing the same dream.


Making a documentary is a long and expensive process. We've shot and edited most of the movie with the support of Lucky 8 Films (Executive producers of Bronx Obama and An Honest Liar), but we still have a ways to go before we have a cut ready screen. Eventually, we hope to secure a limited theatrical run and tour the film with screenings at comedy venues across America.

We're launching this campaign to overcome the last four major hurdles to finish the film. With your SUPPORT, we'll be able to cover the costs of:

- Music composition: Currently all the music in the film is temp, but we have a veteran documentary composer on board (to be announced) who has agreed to score the film for an extremely discounted rate. Estimated cost: $10,000.

- Sound editing and mixing: This ensures that the film will sound as good in a theatre as it done on a phone. Much of our documentary is shot in noisy comedy clubs, so clear sound is especially crucial for the audience to understand the story. Estimated cost: $4,000.

- Color correction: We shot in many low-light situations (basement bar shows, subways), so this process will ensure everyone's face is visible, and the shots look consistent across all locations in the film. Estimated cost: $4,000.

- DCP Mastering: To be played in a theatrical setting, the film must be encoded onto a Digital Cinema Package. Estimated cost: $2,000.

- E&O Insurance: Errors and Omissions insurance is required for any documentary film. Estimated cost: $5,000.


We're incredibly happy with how far the film has come, and we would be immensely grateful to you for joining us on our journey to the big screen!

We're thrilled to offer the following rewards for your contribution. All donations are tax-deductible. All reward levels include rewards from all previous levels.

- $25 : You'll be added to the newsletter to receive updates on the film as we reach important milestones (No spam, promise!).

- $50 : A free, advanced digital early link to download the film.

- $100 : Special thanks in the credits, and a link to an additional, behind-the-scenes reel of hilarious moments that ended up on the cutting room floor.

- $500 : Dinner with the filmmakers, producers, and any available comics at the film festival premiere or any other screenings (Transportation not included).

- $1000 : A limited edition print of the film poster, signed by our three comics.

- $5000 : Professional editing services for a video up to eight minutes in length. Perfect for a family video, reel, or memento.

- $10,000 : Executive Producer credit.

Feel free to contact me directly with any questions or concerns! If you want to support the project but cannot afford a donation, we would appreciate you spreading the word on social media!

Follow us to learn more about our comics, and many other hilarious folks featured in the film at or


Jonathan Miller (Director, Camera, co-Editor) works primarily as an editor for a variety of nonfiction television, including shows on Discovery, Smithsonian, A&E, Science, OWN, and Animal Planet, including the hit shows Yukon Men and 60 Days In. A graduate of Vassar college, he is interested in stories that speak to the power of performance and storytelling as a transformative experiences. Standing Up is his first feature.

Colin Bernatzky (Producer, Camera) is a Peltason Fellow for the Center for the Study of Democracy at the University of California, Irvine, where he currently studies narrative, culture, cognition and social movements as a PhD student in Sociology.

Katie Accardo (Producer) works as a literacy instructor and freelance writer/copy editor in Westchester County. Previously she worked for a non-profit program providing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to adolescents incarcerated at Rikers Island.

Lucky 8 (Production Company) is an unscripted television production company committed to creating highly entertaining content that is as smart as it is surprising. We're dedicated to telling immersive, first person stories driven by real people tackling real life head-on. Our creative team has produced a diverse portfolio of programming for networks including A&E (60 Days In, Behind Bars: Rookie Year), Smithsonian (Alaska Aircraft Investigations), Food Network (Kids BBQ Championship, Hungry Games), Animal Planet (No Limits), and Weather (3 Scientists Walk Into a Bar), as well as the critically acclaimed feature documentary Bronx Obama.

Kent Bassett (Editor) tells stories about people who struggle against overwhelming odds. The last film he directed, Beyond Limits, is about a man with cerebral palsy who climbs Africa's highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro. His narrative short film The Line is about a migrant father and son who run out of water while crossing the desert border and seek help from the ranch house of a gun-wielding Minuteman. The Line won the ASC's Heritage award and many festival awards and it screened at festivals across the world. He is also an Emmy-nominated TV editor for nonfiction programming.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

$300 Raised
1% towards $25,000 Goal

Supported by 4 Donations:

  • Mira R.
    I Gave $100
  • Silhouette
  • Silhouette
    I Gave $50
  • Maged E.
    I Gave $100
    You Go Ralph!