Private Project


hopefulROMANTIC is an original musical film about one man's emotional journey through love, heartbreak, and healing. It's a universal story about loving, letting go, and holding onto faith that there's somebody for everybody.

It may sound like a somewhat familiar story....but what makes hopefulROMANTIC unique, is the way in which this story is told. The nearly dialogue-free narrative is articulated solely through Matt Zarley and Andy Zulla's soulful pop score...introducing a fresh new format in musical storytelling. A movie musical for a new generation.
hopefulROMANTIC is best described simply as a love story....with music as its guide.

Matt Zarley (The Romantic) co-stars with Chuck Saculla (The Boyfriend) , Jolie Jenkins (The Best Friend), and social media/pop culture icon, Star Trek's George Takei (The Mentor).

  • Benjamin Pollack
  • Matt Zarley
    Trust Me
  • Andy Zulla
    Smash (NBC TV Show)
  • Matt Zarley
    Trust Me, WTF, Change Begins With Me, S4E
  • Stacy Ekstein
  • Benjamin Pollack
  • Matt Zarley
    Key Cast
    Annie (Disney MOW), Geppetto (Disney MOW)
  • George Takei
    Key Cast
    Star Trek
  • Chuck Saculla
    Key Cast
    Days of Our Lives
  • Jolie Jenkins
    Key Cast
    Desperate Housewives
  • Project Type:
    Music Video, Short
  • Genres:
    Romance, Musical, LGBT, Gay
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 14, 2015
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Best Shorts Competition
    La Jolla, CA
    This was not screened to the public
    Award of Excellence - LGBT Short
  • Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival
    Los Angeles, CA
    February 14, 2015
    Best LGBT Short
  • Cinema Diverse: Palm Springs LGBT Film Festival
    Palm Springs
    September 20, 2015
    Festival Favorite
  • Bare Bones International Film & Music Festival
    Muskogee, OK
    April 10, 2015
  • North Hollywood Cinefest
    North Hollywood, CA
    April 12, 2015
  • SENE Film, Music & Art Festival
    Providence, RI
    April 23, 2015
  • Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
    Miami, FL
    May 1, 2015
  • Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival
    Mumbai, India
    May 29, 2015
    International Premiere
  • Macon Film Festival
    Macon, GA
    July 17, 2015
  • All Things Hollywood
    Hollywood, CA
    August 14, 2015
  • North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
    Durham, NC
    August 15, 2015
  • Innovative Film Festival
    West Hollywood, CA
    September 17, 2015
  • Sidewalk Film Festival
    Birmingham, AL
    August 29, 2015
    Alabama Premiere
  • Kaleidoscope LGBT Film Festival
    Little Rock, AK
    August 1, 2015
  • Cannes Short Film Festival
    Cannes, France
    September 4, 2015
    European Premiere
  • Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival
    Indianapolis, IN
    November 13, 2015
  • Out on Film: Atlanta LGBT Film Festival
    Atlanta, GA
    October 5, 2015
Director Biography - Benjamin Pollack

Benjamin Pollack is an award winning filmmaker and graduate of the American Film Institute. For his directing he has been honored with Best Director at the Los Angeles Independent Television Festival (ITVFest), Best Comedy Feature at The FirstGlance Film Festival, Philadelphia and was nominated for Best Narrative Feature and Best Horror Feature at Rome International Film Festival and Shockerfest, respectively.As Editor, Benjamin has a wide range of awards and projects under his belt which include the feature film entitled “Played” which stars Val Kilmer, Gabriel Burn and Vinnie Jones and distributed by Lionsgate, and editor and producer of the multi-award winning feature film, “The Garage,” which screened in over 80 festivals and received over 50 awards and nominations, and Wizzardream, starring Malcolm McDowell. As a member of the Writers Guild of America, Benjamin worked in the film industry for many years writing for television, animation and film. His feature screenplay, DEAD AFTER TOMORROW took the Best Horror Feature Screenplay Award at the prestigious Eerie Horror Film Festival and at Shriekfest, the Los Angeles Horror/Sci-Fi Film and Screenplay Festival. His comedy screenplay BLUE SUIT ASSASSINS was selected to compete in SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL and THE BEVERLY HILLS FILM FESTIVAL. His script, Fleaosaurus, made a Black List top ten list. In addition to writing and directing, Benjamin is an accomplished film producer. He has produced films at The American Film Institute with actress Amanda Seyfried, (Letters to Juliet, Mamma Mia, Alpha Dog) and at Film & Music Entertainment with veteran Producer, John Daly (The Terminator, Platoon, The Last Emperor.) Benjamin also produced the award-winning feature, The Garage, and was the sole producer of the feature film, Dark Room Theater. While at the American Film Institute, Benjamin was the editing department student representative, held a seat on the Fellows Advisory Council for two years, and served on AFI’s Curriculum review committee as one of the only two student representatives. He was also nominated for two prestigious ACE Eddie Awards in as many years, becoming the 2nd editor in AFI’s history to be nominated two years in a row. In addition, he was awarded two prestigious production grants for each of his thesis films, the FotoKem award and the Fuji Filmmakers award, and was nominated by AFI’s Faculty for class valedictorian. Benjamin currently holds a seat on the American Film Institute Alumni Steering Committee.

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Director Statement

I love to tell stories. I love to make people laugh and I love to touch people’s hearts. Several years ago I was awarded that opportunity when I was approached to direct a music video called "Trust Me". The star, Matt Zarley, was an extraordinary singer/songwriter, and after hearing his original song I knew I wanted to be involved. The music video went on to win awards and was one of the richest directing experiences of my career. In early November of 2013, Matt and I reconnected to bring to life Matt’s newest endeavor, "Hopeful Romantic".
Matt is a great artist. I do not say that lightly. It was a huge responsibility to keep the project at a level befitting not only his talent, but also his message. That was a challenge I was ready to take. Matt wanted to express a personal journey as a short film with music that was, again, hauntingly brilliant, and he wanted to do it with absolutely no dialogue.
To me, Matt’s story felt like it should be told at the end of the world, a place where you saw beauty everywhere you looked but could travel no further. That place, for me, was Malibu. Because Matt’s songs flowed together like a soft breeze, I felt that the camera should be in constant motion, always flowing like the waves of the ocean just out of our reach. In addition, at the right moments, I felt that we should see the end of the world for both its beauty and confinement, and to lend vastness to both his feelings of despair and hope.
Matt’s journey through his connection to another human being transcends the boundaries between the gay and straight communities. We have all felt the sting of losing someone we love and this story was meant as a message for everyone who has ever felt love. Matt and I both felt we needed to add someone to our cast that could help us cross those boundaries. To me, that person was George Takei. Matt immediately agreed and before you could say, Trust Me, Matt had an outline and a few songs sent over to him. George connected to the project right away. It was Kismet.
We had just six days to shoot this short film, which was akin to shooting 9 or so music videos that all flowed together like a poem. I knew I had to bring in a cinematographer who could handle that kind of filming and be brilliant at the same time. That person had to be someone who was not only talented, but who was trained with the same filmmaking philosophy as myself. Someone with whom I could speak in filmmaking “short hand” and would know exactly what I was thinking. That person was fellow AFI graduate, Chris Ekstein, whose keen eye, positive spirit and natural ability was the last piece of the filmmaking puzzle. The moment Chris heard the songs Matt created all he could say was, I’m in.
Everyone’s journey through life is different, yet when you take a far enough step back and squint your eyes just a bit, we’re all pretty much the same. The bigger difference between us becomes the strength to move on when life is at it’s hardest. Matt’s journey is one of those moments where what could have been an end became a beginning - a life lesson worth telling.
-Benjamin Pollack, Director.