A tight-knit group of students at Michigan State University and alumni are in the middle of a fundraising campaign to support the production of their short film, “Tomato Soup.” 

Written by digital storytelling senior Brendan Conant, “Tomato Soup” tells the story of a recently signed professional baseball player named Dodd as he struggles with leaving his hometown, a narrative that stemmed from Conant’s own life experiences.


 “My parents are in the middle of selling their house and they actually just closed on a deal about a week ago,” Conant said. “It’s been this kind of weird, emotional ride of like going through that whole process and kind of saying goodbye to that childhood home, and so that’s kind of where a lot of the emotion for ‘Tomato Soup’ is coming from.”

The film’s exploration of nostalgia and leaving the place that was once home is easily relatable for the MSU community, which is filled with students from all over the world who have taken that first emotional step away from the familiar. People within MSU, local communities and beyond have pledged money to help get this film off the ground. 

“In the past, we’ve kind of been able to fund our own things when they were small enough but now we kind of need to reach out for help and ask our community to support us,” said digital storytelling senior Ethan Seelig, who is serving as a cinematographer and producer for the film. “So, we decided to make a pitch video kind of discussing or describing the film, describing who we are and what we’re asking for.”


The pitch video is available to watch on their Seed & Spark page, where people can also read about the project and make donations. In just over two weeks, more than $3,000 has been raised for the film. Seelig said they are on track to meet their greenlight amount of $8,000, at which point they can move forward with production.

“Luckily, MSU is such a warm community; so is the East Lansing area, and I’m really happy that everybody has come together and supported our little Michigan-made indie film,” MSU alumna and line producer for the film Raveena Mishra said. “It’s great to see support for filmmakers.”

The donations will help Conant and his team pay for expenses like filming locations, travel, equipment, salaries and more. They set a goal for $10,000— $2,000 more than their greenlight amount— in the hopes of making the film the highest quality it can be. Conant expressed his wish for this project to be the “crown jewel” of his portfolio and an culmination of all the skills he has learned over his years at MSU. 

“I’m holding on to a standard (that) this has to be something that I can show off and that can sustain me, and sustain my art and my visions for many years to come,” Conant said. 


The crew hopes to submit the film to festivals around the country after its completion, Mishra said. They’re excited for the world to see the project that they are putting so much dedication, passion and expertise into – and to remind people of film’s importance as an artform and way of self expression. 

“Having our community rally with us and for this film means a lot, especially the MSU community,” Mishra said. “We’re not typically known as a film school, but, you know, to kind of put us on the map as ‘we make movies here, we do art here,’ it really takes all of us to like understand the effort and acknowledge the passion within East Lansing.”

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