Raised toward our $35,000 Goal
58 Donors
days left
Project ends on December 31, at 11:59 PM PST
Project Owners

Ikigai - A CSUN Senior Thesis Short Film

Welcome to the fundraising campaign for the CSUN Senior Thesis Film, Ikigai. We appreciate your time and support, read on to learn more about our film! 


Our story, Ikigai, follows Mayumi Nakaji, a 9-year-old Japanese girl integrated into a white school, as she finds a balance between her Japanese roots and American nationality. Her mother, Hanako, who celebrates their culture through Nihon Buyo, sees Mayumi's new school as an opportunity to share their culture with the white students. When Mayumi is assigned a new show-and-tell presentation, she takes it as a chance to show her classmates that she is no different from them. That plan is soon ruined when her mother unexpectedly shows up and teaches the white students a Japanese dance, exposing Mayumi's cultural background. After receiving guidance and advice from her parents, Mayumi returns to school with a new plan to unite herself with her classmates and make her ancestors proud. 


For centuries, dating back to the Heian period [794 to 1185], Japanese neuroscientists, psychologists, and psychiatrists have researched ikigai and have yet to find an exact definition for the term. Generally understood, ikigai (生きがい, ee-kee-guy) is a Japanese concept that describes the things that make your life worthwhile; the things that give you a deep sense of purpose, satisfaction, and joy. According to neuroscientist, Ken Mogi, Japanese people grow up with this multifaceted concept of ikigai and come to understand it more intimately as they grow older, and as they change internally throughout the course of their life. To learn more about ikigai, check out our website: ikigaishortfilm.com 


Ikigai is inspired by Writer and Director Maren Elardo's mother, Mayumi Elardo (formerly Nakaji). The story takes place in Northern California a few years after the 1971 Supreme Court ruling in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, which sped up school integration that had been slow to take root. School districts were trying to integrate the socioeconomic class inequity of the system without consideration of the emotional impact it had on minority students. It was challenging for people of color to fit in with the white students due to the awareness of the imposed mixing of races. Students of color often felt inferior to, and singled out from, the white students which resulted in an internal drive to assimilate and conceal their cultural backgrounds. Mayumi's story still holds relevance in our current society because many school districts across the United States still remain largely segregated; more than half of U.S. children attend schools in districts where the student population is either more than 75% white or more than 75% non-white


Our cast and crew aim to create an authentic film depicting the 1970s and Japanese culture in America but we can't do it without your help! 

All monetary contributions will be used for the following

  • Art Department: A historically accurate set! Production Design. Set Decoration. Hair & Makeup. Costumes. Props. 
  • Camera & Lighting Department: Camera and Lighting Packages. Lenses. Grip Equipment. Media Storage. 
  • Casting: Hiring Our Talent. Casting Director. Finding Background Talent. 
  • Catering & Craft Services: Feeding our cast and crew during production! 
  • COVID-19 Compliance: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Disinfecting Equipment; Masks, Gloves, Sanitizer, Face Shields, COVID-19 Testing. COVID-19 Compliance Officer Equipment. 
  • Filming Locations: Securing locations and sets that will depict an accurate setting for our 1970s period piece; Permitting. Insurance. Lodging. Transportation. 
  • Post-Production: Film Processing. Color Grading. Transcoding. High-Quality Sound. Editing Hard Drives. Festival Submissions. 
  • Sound Department: Sound Equipment Rental Costs. Original Score Composition. Music Rights. 



We recognize that donating to our project might not be something many have the privilege to do so we completely understand if you are unable to financially contribute. However, there are other ways you can help! Spread the word by sharing our Donation Website with others who may be able to help us out. Here are alternate funding/sharing options: 


To catch updates on our cast and crew, the story's history, fun throwbacks, behind-the-scenes, and much more, follow us on social media!

Instagram: @ikigai.shortfilm

Facebook Page: @ikigaicsun

YouTube: @ikigaishortfilm

TikTok: @ikigaishortfilm


Ikigai has its very own merchandise! By purchasing some of our gear, our project will receive a percentage of the sales made from the online store. Represent the story in a fashionable way and buy our merch! Our shop's link can be found on our website: ikigaishortfilm.com 


On behalf of all of the hardworking students, cast, and crew members that will bring this film to life, we would like to thank you for your support of this production and story. Without your generous contributions to Ikigai, developing this story wouldn't be possible. We look forward to sharing more updates along this creative journey from script to screen. 

If you have any questions or comments that you would like to share, please reach out to one of our producers or our director: 

Writer/Director: Maren Elardo maren.elardo.706@my.csun.edu 

Producer: Maya Tydor maya.tydor.959@my.csun.edu

Producer: Mateo Simon mateo.simon.307@my.csun.edu 

Choose a giving level


Thank you!

Every little penny counts! Thank you for helping us bring our film to life!


Social Media Shoutout

Thank you for supporting “Ikigai”! You will receive a shoutout on our Instagram Story!


The Art of Ikigai

With this tier, you will receive exclusive access to our digital library of concept art, posters, logos, and storyboards that help us bring the film to life in pre-production! (Includes previous tier)


Behind The Scenes of "Ikigai"

With this tier, you will get to see Behind-The-Scenes photos of our production and all of the crew who make this film possible! (Includes all previous tiers)


Behind The Scenes Video

With this tier, you will have early access to our Behind The Scenes video of “Ikigai”. (Includes all previous tiers)


Special Thanks

All donations from $250 and above: You will receive a “Special Thanks” credit at the end of our film! You will also be featured on our official “Ikigai” website! (Includes all previous tiers)


'In Gassho' Title

All donations from $1500 and above: You will be listed under the 'In Gassho' section of our film's end credits. The term Gassho expresses deep honor and respect. This credit is only available to outside donors and not current CSUN student contributors. (Includes all previous tiers)


Fund The Entire Project

Why not just fund the entire film!? We'd be eternally grateful!!

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