The line between genius and imposter is very fine.
Being a Con Artist ain’t easy, they don’t call it an art for nothing. There is no formal training or doctoral degree one can obtain to become a professional Con Artist. As a self-taught fighter, you have to find your path. It’s a life-time commitment to living in the shadows of law and truth itself. You become whatever identity you create. Everything’s an illusion. As soon as you drop the mask, the game is over. Thus, the mask and the game are always on. Repeating a lie as often as it takes for it to become the truth, is our motto. If you’re telling the entire world that you’ve discovered the cure for cancer all the time, you’ll end up believing it yourself eventually.
It’s a full time job with no guaranteed pay, but no salary cap either. You run your own business and your own church. Those who believe in you become your customers and your worshippers. There is no time for family or friendships. No one can love you for who you truly are, because no one knows who you truly are. Not even you are 100% sure…
~ PREMISE ~
This is the story of Lukas Gerhard, the most prolific Con Artist of the 21st century.
A self-educated medical genius from Germany. Banned by the scientific community, worshipped by everyone else.
Everyone except for Marketing Genius and former Crypto Currency Queen Dr. Karolina Simon, his only ally and biggest rival.
Lukas got kicked out of Europe’s best med-school for ghost-writing remarkable PhD thesis papers under the table.
Dr. Simon got disinherited by her royal father who favors her little half-brother. Even a doctoral degree with honors and self-made crypto currency wealth couldn’t establish her position in the family's dynasty, given that she is a bastard child.
They want revenge and they want power. Lukas and Dr. Simon make a secret pact to pull off one of the most impressive cases of Con Artistry the medical world has seen: Lukas claims that his body scanner can cure cancer, in order to raise the money he needs to actually build the thing. Dr. Simon claims to have invested most of her crypto budget into his scanner already (and she's definitely seen it work).
Lukas and Dr. Simon need each other. At the same time, they pose the greatest threat to one another – they'll either both crash and burn or win and share. The fact that neither of them is the sharing kind might become an issue down the road...
Why this Story?
We live in a world in which upward mobility has been replaced by TikTok and Instagram followers. Everyone has thousands of friends, while the most dangerous epidemic of our generation is loneliness. A nurse can’t afford to buy a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles, while overnight bitcoin millionaires can’t explain what bitcoin is. Fact and fiction are all the same. Reality TV-stars and software engineers redefine the meaning of free speech and truth. What constitutes a Con Artist in a world in which the very meaning of reality is no longer defined? Aren’t we all Con Artists to some degree? These two dangerously ambitious, brilliant Millennials refuse to accept their place in the world. They don’t think of themselves as Con Artists – they just claim what they rightfully deserve in their own minds. Lukas and Dr. Simon are simply playing and winning our society’s game of bending reality according to their needs. They’re willing to fight dirty, and they know how to. Rooting for them is inevitable. Getting seduced by the dark side is fun, especially in times of darkness.
The World of Dr. Wunderkind
Lukas and Dr. Simon con their way to the top together. Their only value is cash-value. Lukas is openly gay. He has learned to use his 'otherness' as a superpower. Dr. Simon fights her family's sexist dynasty, which fuels her ambition more than her feminism. If they don’t work together, Lukas and Dr. Simon will inevitably destroy each other. Instead of fighting a cold war, they establish a secret, united front on thin ice. Anyone can be thrown under the bus at any time. They make up identities, budgets and fake accents to get what they want, seducing CEOs, A-listers and king-pin gangsters, wining and dining with the elites of Bel Air. We hop in the jacuzzi with them, bathing in the glamour of fame and money. But we also see their low-points, doing dirty work and scrambling to make ends meet, while pretending to be rich: Renting designer purses, cars, negotiating with Uber drivers and thrift-store owners. We watch them fake it until they make it.
Drama, seasoned with dark German humor. An intelligent, elegant and satirical take on the absurdity of living in a world ruled by money. It’s a suspenseful and sexy power-game with no predictable outcome. Edgy and raw European storytelling wrapped in an entertaining American esthetic. A younger "House of Cards" meets a more diverse "Succession".
Selling fake cancer treatments will be treated with as much cringe-worthy dark humor as possible, in an elite, metropolitan L.A. setting. First and foremost, this is a show about Con Artistry, power and seduction. Secondly, it’s about business, corruption and literally playing with people's lives.
Lukas and Dr. Simon are easy on the eyes and seduce the audience the same way they seduce high society in this show. It is a guilty pleasure to watch them play and win: They break all the rules for us. They go after what they want without second guessing themselves. At their core, they are everything we wish we were allowed to be: Powerful and free.
LUKAS GERHARD, (33 – in his “Jesus-year”), from Eastern Berlin, Germany. Speaks flawless English, sounding American if need be. Highly intelligent and in good shape. Raised in a working-class area of Eastern Berlin, born at the end of the Cold War. He watched his highly educated single mother clean the houses of upper-class Western Germans who looked down on her, treating her like a maid and not the professor she truly was. Yet Lukas knew that he was the son of a professor, not the son of a servant.
He was accepted into the Berlin Charité School of Medicine – the best hospital in Europe and the 5th best worldwide. Lukas developed a passion for saving people and the glory that comes with it, while maintaining expensive hobbies such as night clubs and design furniture. His lifestyle is financed by ghostwriting PhD thesis papers for a starting price of $6000. Business was going great – until he got busted. Lukas had written some of the best PhD thesis papers the university had seen, but he was banned and unable to finish his own degree. Ironically, he helped many others become doctors, but he will never be able to call himself a doctor. Success is the best revenge. His mission is to find the cure for cancer and show them all. They will regret what they did to him, nay, drop on their knees and worship the fallen angel of medicine. In order to raise money for his guerilla research operation, he claims that he already discovered the cure. All he needs is someone who appears to have money to vouch for him, and that special someone is Dr. Karolina Simon.
Dr. Karolina Simon
Legit PhD, but not a real doctor.
DR. KAROLINA SIMON (29 – afraid of turning 30, because she hasn’t landed on the “30 below 30 list” yet). Born out of wedlock to a Royal entrepreneur father from Liechtenstein, the second richest country in the world. Raised in Germany by her single mother who had to quit her secretary job in disgrace. Her Royal father never left his wife for Dr. Simon’s mother, he was involved in her upbringing by paying enough child support to provide for a middle-class life in Cologne, Germany.
As a kid, Dr. Simon spent every summer with her half-siblings in Liechtenstein. She tried to make up for being just a half-sibling by getting the best grades, winning chess tournaments and keeping up an immaculate appearance. As a little girl, she preferred little suits over T-shirts and glitter. You wouldn’t find her playing in the dirt, because she had to prove to her Baron father that she was naturally born Royalty, destined for an extraordinary life.
But all her efforts were in vain: Her father gave the management position in his world-leading veneer company to her baby half-brother, who barely made it through his undergrad studies.
Dr. Simon's PhD in Economics with honors was irrelevant. She realized that the family tree couldn’t be climbed and she grew tired of the rigged money bloodline game. It's time to play by her own rules from now on. She wants to make it big, she wants to make it fast. On her way to the top she comes across Lukas Gerhard - her greatest ally, her darkest soulmate and ultimate Nemesis.
Dr. Danso Ofori
a real doctor,
Highly Respected Cancer researcher
Flies in from Ghana when he finds out about the Body Scanner. He wants to bring it to his patients Africa. In for a big surprise.
influencer by day,
dark web entrepreneur by night
Invests a lot. Upon finding out that the Scanner isn't ready, he forces Lukas to finish it by any means necessary. Any means.
Dr. Shane Clark
finer things aficionado
Ready to invest in Lukas, if Lukas is ready to "invest" in him. Has enough money, needs to fill the empty seat in his jaccuzzi.
can keep a secret
Impressed by Dr. Simon and Dr. Ofori's endorsement, she raises the stakes at the table. Wants out when it's too late.
terminal cancer patient,
veteran and good christian
Survived 3 tours in Afghanistan, has stage 3 brain cancer. The first and only patient to undergo the scanner treatment.
The Body Scanner
scans the body for cancer cells,
targets and destroys them
Theoretically supposed to cure cancer at any stage. Technically not built yet due to pending budget issues.
Game recognizes game, when Lukas meets Dr. Simon at an investor meeting in which everyone thinks he can walk on water. She sees right through his charade, as he’s trying to scam an elite group of wealthy boomers into throwing money at a cancer treatment he hasn’t invented yet. She calls his bluff, but instead of blowing the whistle Dr. Simon wants in.
Her marketing magic makes the world believe Lukas is the Steve Jobs of Medicine.
He becomes Dr. Wunderkind.
Watch the first 5 minutes of the pilot here.
FUSION FILM FESTIVAL, Warsaw, 2020
* WINNER - Best Editing, Olivia VanCampen
* Nominated for:
Best Short Film
Best Lead Actor, Philipp Maximilian
Best Lead Actress, Claudia Zie
Best Score, Claudia Zie