Heather Perluzzo has been quite busy lately. In the past two years alone, she’s directed eight short films (five of which were also written by her) as well as worked in AD and Camera department on several other shorts including 2018’s Crazy8s award-winning hit Small Fish. One of her own works that got the audience buzzing at the 2019 Crazy8s Gala is making its official public debut in BC at the Vancouver Short Film Festival (VSFF), the sci-fi comedy-drama, Hatch.
Don’t let the convergence of genres toss you, for Hatch is the touching tale of young woman Marcy who while suffering from a post-miscarriage depression, finds herself the custodian of an otherworldly egg that has fallen from the heavens onto her doorstep. After some tender loving care from Marcy, the egg soon hatches into a muppet-rendered alien that Marcy names Eric.
Buoyed by winning performances by BC acting legends Sara Canning and Gabrielle Rose, the film captured hearts last year and is set to do so again at VSFF. I recently chatted with Heather about Hatch and the inspirations and challenges behind its production.
What was the inspiration for this project?
It was a personal experience when I had a miscarriage about six years ago. I wasn’t a filmmaker then, but that story carried over into my filmmaking career trying to better understand myself. I kind of played with that in order to create a more positive reproduction of what I experienced.
How did the time-compressed nature of Crazy 8s affect how you approached production?
It affected it in pretty much every way because we have a month from finding out (that the film was selected). Everything was pretty compact and decisions had to be made very quickly. Luckily we had a very talented crew so I felt like things went pretty smoothly in terms of how we were going to re-convey the message and how things were going to pan out.
Of course things don’t always go as planned and three days is a really short time to film. I think we had 40 scenes so it was a feat.
How did you approach casting?
We did casting in person and then we brought in offer onlys (demos sent in by higher-profile actors) which were Sara Canning and Gabrielle Rose. For Sara, I know how grounded she is and I found that she would bring a real quirkiness and a softness to the role that I think it demanded.
Gabrielle Rose is one of the most iconic actors in Vancouver. I knew that she was going to do just such a service to this role. It was pretty much a no-brainer for me.
How challenging was it to worth with the “Eric” puppet?
It was actually quite fun because I’ve never directed a puppet before. It was a bit challenging because it was my first time working with a puppet and a puppeteer. We had a lot of rods that needed to be removed from all the shots. We had Chris Orchard doing VFX so it ended up not being an issue at all because he’s very talented.
I noticed local legends Jacqueline and Joyce Robbins made a surprise cameo near the end.
Small Fish, which was done by Maxime Beauchamp and Kent Donguines last year, I was their (third) AD. So I met them (the Robbins twins) there, that’s how I know them.
What do you hope audience take away from this film?
A really great thing that happened during the (Crazy8s) Gala was that a lot of women felt compelled to come up to me after watching Hatch and explain their experiences with miscarriage. It was very powerful and it kind of made me feel like I had taken a step in the right direction of removing stigma around it, at least in a small portion of the world.
What I hope people take away from it is, it’s not just a comedy. I bring the light-heartedness because I find that when you’re talking about really serious issues, most of the time it’s a drama. I didn’t want people to have to re-live a bad moment in their life again. I wanted them to see it through a fresh perspective.
Are Marcy and Eric characters you may return to in the future?
I toyed with the idea of Hatch as a feature for a while. It was a very deep, personal experience for me to explore all that and there are other things that I’m working on now that have taken quite a toll on me emotionally.
So for the time being, I think that Hatch has done its service. So maybe in the long run, but not anytime soon.
Hatch screens as part of VSFF at the Vancity Theatre on Sunday, Jan 26, 6pm