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A film from Mark Hoffman


The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it.”

– Henry David Thoreau


Coming out of the pandemic, an indecisive young man (Nick) makes a series of radical choices to get himself out of debt without telling his girlfriend-practically-fiancée (Marie) that he’s going to be homeless and living off the grid.




Nick Allander is a creative soul - a thoughtful, but indecisive, young man with an accounting job, a serious relationship, and a problem... he’s drowning in debt. Coming out of the pandemic, he and his partner, Marie, are looking to take the next step in their relationship, but when Nick’s mother, a hoarder in poor health, suddenly passes, he snaps, abandoning his career, leaving his apartment, and selling all his possessions to secretly squat in the garage of her foreclosed home. 


Without telling Marie that he’s homeless and living off the grid, Nick commits to a strategy of extreme frugality. After taking advice from a bike mechanic who lives out of a tent, Nick successfully fixes up an old bike using Goodwill parts and tools and begins commuting to find a new job. Freed from costs and expectations, Nick discovers a sense of purpose and self-reliance as his debt drastically begins to shrink. 

But Nick’s erratic behavior sets off suspicions for Marie, prompting him to double down on a new scheme to win her back. Unable to truly tell Marie what he wants in life, Nick’s plans eventually backfire shedding light on Marie’s own secret and forcing Nick to choose between committing to the woman he loves or devoting himself to a simpler existence.


genre & tone

A Simple Machine is a dramedy - an uplifting story of downward mobility. It’s driven by grounded humor, charming yet sometimes flawed characters, and insightful social commentary. It’s the story of a reluctant hero finally choosing to do the opposite of what the world wants him to do, setting the stage for conflict and heartbreak but also change and personal growth. 


Nick’s struggles are tempered with moments of levity and wit:

 Nebraska, Little Miss Sunshine, 500 Days of Summer, Inside Llewyn Davis


Nick’s emotional arc is a classic underdog story: a young man who transforms himself physically and mentally to overcome his obstacles. His approach to getting out of debt and in control of his life will become a race on his bike.

Breaking Away, Whiplash, Rocky 



Like other iconic coming-of-age roles from the past, Nick’s character is a breakout role for an up-and-coming talent, or a uniuqe opportunity for a well-known actor to showcase a new side.


Nick (25-35) is a likeable but conflicted young man who lives a life based on expectations rather than his own free will. He’s a creator who doodles and dreams, but works for a marketing firm. He wants to make things right for his long-term relationship with his girlfriend, Marie, but his vulnerabilities keep him from being honest. Physically, this role requires an actor willing to ride a bicycle. The casting call will be open to finding undiscovered talent, inclusive to all ethnicities and backgrounds.


Marie (25-35) contrasts Nick. Outwardly, she’s attractive, a source of superficial tension that she’s out of Nick’s league. She’s direct, ready to settle down and move towards the next step in their relationship. Nick’s abrupt change in behavior and inability to tell her what’s really going on keeps her in doubt and unable to reveal her own surprising secret.


Karl (50s) builds bikes from used parts within a makeshift, outdoor shop in a gas station parking lot. He lives out of a tent. Karl is worn and weathered, he’s gruff with a caustic wit. Karl gives Nick advice on bicycle repair and insights on life.


Michelle (25-35) is Nick's fellow job applicant at Food Mart. Her initial interactions with him are literally 'masked', during the last phases of COVID. She's cute, intuitive, and non-judgemntal which is all revealed when the facemasks come off and Nick is able to fully see her for who she is.



Nick’s story is set in Portland, Oregon. His journeys take him past middle-class neighborhoods, upscale urban areas, and make-shift tent cities. Coming out of the pandemic, Portland has undergone immense change - from massive homelessness, to turbulent protests, to natural disasters - it’s an extreme example of a narrative happening across the country - where the monumental scale and pace of change is heightening economic and cultural divides. 



My wife and I lived out of a van for a year in Los Angeles. We could have easily rented an apartment, but it was a calculated choice allowing us to save money for a down payment on a house while we worked long hours in post-production. The experience taught me lessons on how to live with less. It also revealed a slice of society secretly making do living on the streets, some out choice, most out of necessity. Years later, it’s hard to fathom how and why that slice of society has exploded in size. 


This is a story about a young man who decides to live with radically less, who’s uncertain about being himself but then learns to see past the world's expectations and his own. For many, the pandemic was a reflective reset. It shifted priorities and set the stage for change. Nick embodies this liminal state, and when he finally chooses to take action by dropping out, it’s an honest search for Personal Freedom as it clashes with the Free Market. I wanted to tell a story about a character who doesn’t achieve or get what he initially wants, but finds himself instead.


Henry David Thoreau, also dropped out once to take a long break, albeit building a quaint cabin on an idyllic lake. He came up with an equation for what things cost. Nick updates that math 200 years later in a complicated digital world by going into his mom’s garage and fixing up a bike.

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My career as a director has relied on bringing both honesty and originality to the subject matter no matter the logistical hurdles. I’ve been blessed to work with celebrity talent and some of the best crews and cinematographers in the world. The potential for visually expressing Nick’s story and the freedom he finds on his bike gives me goose bumps. 


With a stellar cast and an approach that is as audaciously cinematic as it is simple, my vision is for a meaningful film with honest charm and  broad appeal poised to win editorial and cinematographic awards.


(click images for examples of work)




Writer / Director - Mark Hoffman lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and family. With over 25 years of experience as a commercial editor and director, he’s worked for global brands such as Barilla, Toyota, and Gatorade guiding award-winning projects from concept to final edit. His guerilla-style campaigns with Nike helped pave the way for viral advertising and combined his work has received hundreds of millions of views. He is part owner of the commercial production company HB Films.


Producer - Kyle Eaton is an award-winning filmmaker who has collaborated with acclaimed directors Kelly Reichardt (Meek's Cutoff, First Cow), Kyle Patrick Alvarez (C.O.G.), Debra Granik (Leave No Trace), and Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel). Most recently, Eaton co-produced Michael Sarnoski’s debut feature Pig starring Nicolas Cage, as well as the film Sometimes I Think About Dying starring Daisy Ridley, which opened the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

Director of Photography – Kevin Fletcher “Fletch" is an internationally recognized cinematographer and photographer. In 2020, he won the prestigious LensCulture Street Photography Award with his project Avenue of Roses shot in Portland, OR. His commercial projects include award-winning work for Netflix, Audi, Stella Artois, Nike, Old Spice and Adidas. His film work has garnered multiple Cinematography awards in both short and long form and his newest sci-fi thriller, It’s What’s Inside, will be featuring at the 2024 Sundance Festival.


Production Designer - Ryan Warren Smith began his film career as an on-set dresser working alongside high profile directors such as Sean Penn & Gus Van Sant. His first film as Production Designer was Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy, starring Michelle Williams, which premiered at the Cannes film festival. Since then, Ryan has designed acclaimed films and television, including The Green Room, True Detective, Lean On Pete, and Alexander Payne’s upcoming feature, The Holdovers.

Producer – Alyssa Roehrenbeck believes in working hard and playing hard - at the same time. Smart and fearless, she’s produced feature films like Because We're Family (starring C. Thomas Howell), Seaside (starring Oscar Winner Ariana DeBose), Here Awhile (starring Anna Camp, Steven Strait & Joe Lo Truglio), Hangdog (starring Desmin Borges, Kelly O’Sullivan, Catherine Curtin, Steve Coulter & Barbara Rosenblat) and loads of other projects; big, small and viral.

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For inquiries on development or to request a script click below.

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