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Young Filmmaker Sees Comedy in Park Slope's 'Striving for Perfection'

By Leslie Albrecht | February 7, 2013 1:34pm

PARK SLOPE — It's "Rosemary's Baby" meets the cast of "Girls" in Park Slope.

A new film by a Park Slope native will meld elements of Roman Polanski's creepy classic with Lena Dunham-style 20-something ennui. Called "The Master Cleanse," the short film will be shot in Park Slope starting in March.

The comedic movie tells the tale of a guy falling for a girl who lives in an urban commune called Manifest Refuge. The girl is hesitant to talk about her mysterious home whose residents engage in a secretive cleansing ritual, and the hero fears it could come between him and his love.

Daniel Goldberg, the film's co-writer and director, didn't want to give away too much more of the plot, but suffice to say, things come to a head. Like Dunham's characters on "Girls," the protagonist is a 20-something who's trying to figure out what to do with his life, but he quickly develops other concerns.

"Slowly he starts to think that this 'master cleanse' that they're all on isn't just a juice fast," Goldberg said of his film's hero.

Goldberg, who's a big fan of director David Lynch, said the movie will appeal to fans of experimental film and people who appreciate films that make the audience uncomfortable.

But "The Master Cleanse" will also strike a chord with anyone who's familiar with the foibles of Park Slope. Goldberg 24, said the film was shaped by his experiences growing up in a brownstone on St. John's Place and attending the Berkeley Carroll School.

"There's a certain Park Slope mentality of striving for the best and of really intense exertion, while having this façade that we're easy-going, and I think that’s really funny," Goldberg said.

He said he became well-acquainted with that incongruity while applying to college, which Goldberg described as "an all-consuming part" of his Park Slope childhood, but something that people pretended wasn't important.

The same goes for the neighborhood's approach to yoga, Goldberg said. Despite its reputation as a calm-inducing activity, yoga in Park Slope often ends up being about "really intense exertion and being yogier than thou," Goldberg said.

Goldberg, who graduated from Bennington College in 2011 and now writes TV reviews for Slant Magazine, raised his film's entire $10,000 budget using Seed and Spark, a new online fundraising tool for aspiring filmmakers.

He's gotten donations from other aspiring Park Slope filmmakers like Aaron Fisher, who put together the first annual Park Slope film festival last year.

Goldberg is turning his parents' brownstone into the film's main set, and he's scouting for a neighborhood bar and a restaurant where he can shoot a few scenes. With a budget of only $10,000, there's not enough to pay for shooting locations.

"It would be in exchange for thanks in the credits and storefront signage in the film," Goldberg said.