Get your Hattie’s Heist DVD!

20 Oct

To obtain a DVD COPY OF HATTIE’S HEIST with BONUS BEHIND THE SCENES FOOTAGE for $25.00, please contact Emery Productions at

Hattie’s Heist DVDs make a great birthday gift for the “senior” (or general lover of fine film!) in your life!

Thank you!


Hattie’s Heist a labour of puppy love for producer ..

19 Oct

Hattie's Heist on CHEK TV Oct 11 2014 TC

Homegrown short film comedy Hattie’s Heist makes debut at Cinecenta

25 Jun

maxinemiller-jpgThe contrast was inescapable Sunday afternoon at the University of Victoria, where Hattie’s Heist lit up Cinecenta’s darkened theatre while the sun shone brightly and temperatures rose outside.

“If it was like this when we were filming, it would have been great,” quipped Kristine Ash, whose adorable Yorkshire terrier, Tessie, looked very star-like with tiny sunglasses adorning her face.

The homegrown short’s four-legged star was among dozens of cast, crew and supporters who showed up for a sneak peek of producer Prudence Emery’s labour of love, which was filmed last year in Fernwood and Oak Bay. Hundreds of dog owners and their prized pooches showed up months earlier for a canine casting call.

Making the trip from Portland, Oregon, for the preview was John Kent Harrison, who directed the comedy about a geriatric Robin Hood, her canine sidekick and a gang of cash-strapped seniors who pull off a bank heist to protest banking-industry profits.

The film stars Maxine Miller as the title character; Bard on the Beach founder Christopher Gaze as her suitor, a retired RCMP officer; and Matt Frewer (Max Headroom) as a musical theatre-loving police officer who sings on the job.

Its large cast also features Carolyn Sadowska as Queen Elizabeth; and retired CTV newsman Lloyd Robertson and media mogul Moses Znaimer as themselves.

As the whimsical short with an underlying message about seniors living on the poverty line in Canada alternated from black-and-white to colour, there was laughter, cheers, applause and vivid memories.

“Everybody stuck it out. Everybody persevered,” said Harrison, recalling “monsoon-like” conditions during much of the film’s four-day shoot in September.

When the sun did come out, it posed unexpected lighting challenges for Harrison, who co-wrote the screenplay with Emery, and director of photography Dan Carruthers.

“When I saw our stars moving about in scooters, soaking wet, I knew I had to man up,” recalled the director, who had just wrapped Christmas in Conway with Mary-Louise Parker and Andy Garcia before shooting the comic caper for Emery. The veteran film publicist worked with Harrison on Beautiful Dreamers, his 1990 feature debut starring Rip Torn and Colm Feore.

Harrison, whose upcoming projects include writing and directing the pilot for a new TV series starring Jon Voight, monitored audience feedback on Sunday.

“Because it’s a comedy, I’m listening for the laughs,” he said. “I didn’t have [the audience] right at the beginning, but as soon as you understand the tone I could hear the rhythm and it just flowed.”

Directing a short film such as Hattie’s Heist isn’t necessarily easier than shooting some of his 27 films that have earned Emmy, Golden Globe or Genie nominations.

“I worked harder than ever,” joked Harrison, whose experience directing animals helped.

“There are lots of tricks you can pull off,” he said, elaborating on what it was like working with Tessie, the camera-friendly trooper who plays Hattie’s scooter-riding accomplice.

“As long as you cut it in your head, you can deal with it. But if you want continuous action with an animal, you’re going to have to learn that the hard way.”

Tessie’s owner said she wasn’t sure what to expect, but was pleased with the results.

“They edited it really well,” Ash said.

“The whole movie was really sweet and lots of fun.”

Harrison said his biggest concern during filming was the age of the actors, several of whom were in their mid-80s.

“I was concerned for their well-being and it’s cold and slippery and wet and we had to do retakes,” he recalled.

“The bigger irony is that it was raining and horrible and nasty and we were scared everyone was going to get pneumonia, yet it’s a comedy.”

Emery was seeing Hattie’s Heist for the umpteenth time on Sunday.

“I’ve seen it so many times but I never get tired of it,” said Emery, who also provided sound effects, such as squawking bird and seniors coughing when covered with dust.

“My favourite thing is listening for reaction,” Emery said. “They laughed in different places but the main thing is they laughed.”

Hattie’s Heist, which was co-produced by Patti Poskitt and executive-produced by Pat Ferns, reunited Harrison with two other collaborators from Beautiful Dreamers — editor Ron Wisman and composer Lawrence Shragge.

The film has been submitted to festivals in Toronto, Vancouver, Sonoma, Halifax and Whistler, and to the Raindance Festival in London, England. It will soon be seen on local television.

Emery also sent a copy to Paul Webster (Locke), the producer she worked with on David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises in London.

© Copyright Times Colonist

‘Monsoon’ can’t dampen spirit of Hattie’s Heist – Times Colonist, November 27, 2013

29 Nov

It wasn’t until Hattie’s Heist began filming that Prudence Emery realized its message about “getting on with it and enjoying life, no matter how old you are” would apply as much to the shoot as the story.

“It was like being in the middle of a monsoon,” said the writer-producer, recalling the film’s wet and windy four-day late-September shoot in Oak Bay. “It was wetter than the Titanic, but we didn’t go down.”

Emery can laugh now that the short dramatic comedy — starring Maxine Miller as a feisty senior who, with the aid of her scooter-riding Yorkshire terrier, pulls off a bank heist — is safe and dry in a Toronto editing suite.

“Everybody pressed on,” she said. “In fact, when the sun did come out it was annoying because it changed the lighting.”

Miller, 86, whom Emery describes as “Canada’s answer to Betty White,” was joined by a supporting cast including Christopher Gaze (founder of Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach) as Hattie’s suitor, a retired RCMP officer, and Matt Frewer (Max Headroom) as a singing policeman. The film also features cameos by Carolyn Sadowska as the Queen, retired CTV newsman Lloyd Robertson and media mogul Moses Znaimer, who play themselves and inspire Hattie’s escapades.

The bank job that Hattie, a kind of geriatric Robin Hood, pulls off with a gang of like-minded, cash-strapped octogenarians was an act of desperation and protest against the banking industry’s huge profits.

Director John Kent Harrison (Beautiful Dreamers), who co-wrote the screenplay with Emery, had his work cut out for him shooting under such soggy conditions. The script supervisor had to put her drenched notes in a dryer.

“They were so wet she couldn’t even write on them,” recalled Emery, adding that Tessie, the canine star owned by Kristine Ash, didn’t fare much better at times.

“It was like a wet muskrat coming out of a river,” Emery said.

The footage is currently being edited by Ron Wisman (The Terry Fox Story) before being rolled out to film festivals.

Once it makes its première, the film will be accompanied by a reassuring message. “No banks were actually robbed during production of this movie and it is not the intention of the filmmakers to encourage or support dreams of bank robbery,” reads a disclaimer.


6 Oct

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 10.12.01 AM


It’s a wrap for “Hattie’s Heist.”

Thanks to all those who have supported Hattie over the past two years, we completed shooting “Hattie’s Heist” in Victoria, B.C. on October 1st.

Directed by John Kent Harrison, veteran actress Maxine Miller plays Hattie, Christopher Gaze (founder of Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach), her retired RCMP officer suitor and Matt Frewer a frantic policeman.  Local Victoria actresses play Hattie’s Gang who zip about on mobility scooters with great zest throughout the picture not forgetting the “singing policewoman” from Victoria’s Pacific Coast Opera.  A well trained Yorkshire Terrier, more used to riding Harley Davidsons than acting, plays Hattie’s sidekick.

The film shot over 4 rain-lashed days.  Cast and crew remained good humoured and professional during this soggy shoot.  Protective sheets of plastic were de rigeuer. Prior to principal photography locals remarked, “Oh the weather is lovely at the end of September. The light is beautiful.”   Not so!  Nonetheless the rain gave the picture a certain luminous quality.

“Hattie’s Heist” is presently in post production in Toronto, Vancouver and Los Angeles.  And, yes, we’re back to fund raising to cover the cost of post.  See “Help Hattie” here.

Directed and co-written by John Kent Harrison, “Hattie’s Heist” is produced by Patti Poskitt with Pat Ferns and Prudence Emery serving as Executive Producers.  Alix Cameron is co-producer.

OLLIE’S FORAY INTO FILM A SOGGY AFFAIR: Times Colonist October 3, 2013

4 Oct

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 11.38.01 AMOrdinarily, Ollie the Pug’s tail is tightly curled like a pretzel. But on this morning it was straight, like a bread stick. A wet bread stick.

It happens when he’s unhappy. And Ollie was unhappy because he’d been out in the rain at Willows Beach for several hours straight.

Our dog resembled a wet bath-mat. If you looked up the definition of “misery” in the dictionary, Ollie’s sodden face could be the illustration.

But hey, he’s in showbiz.

Last weekend, the final scenes from Hattie’s Heist, an independent film, were shot at Willows Beach. It was a gusty, rainy day. Rainy in the sense of: “Let’s rustle up Noah and fast-track that ark.” A storm, really.

Hattie’s Heist is a bank-robber flick. The criminal mastermind is an old woman called Hattie. I’m not sure of the details, but apparently walkers and mobility scooters feature prominently. Think Breaking Bad for geezers, minus the meth labs, the murders and the bad attitude.

Ollie the Pug has a microscopic role in Hattie’s Heist. He plays a dog owned by the retired policeman who is Hattie’s boyfriend. The ex-cop is played by Vancouver’s Christopher Gaze, a jolly Englishman in a red bowtie and borrowed raincoat.

Gaze, 61, trained at Bristol’s Old Vic Theatre School and founded Bard on the Beach, Vancouver’s Shakespeare festival. This morning he performed with our pug dog, who lacks formal acting experience and enjoys eating tissue paper.

In one scene, Gaze led Ollie down a soggy path. There he encountered Hattie, played by Maxine Miller. Miller, in her mid-60s, rode a mobility scooter and wore a soaked faux-fur coat. She didn’t look like she was particularly enjoying her scooter ride.

“Let’s go swinging!” said Gaze to Miller, pointing to the playground swings with the ersatz gaiety of an actor caught in a rainstorm.

“It should be, ‘Let’s go swimming!” I whispered to my wife, who is also Ollie’s trainer.

“Because it’s so wet,” I added when she didn’t respond.

“Be quiet,” said my wife. Astonishing quantities of rain splashed off the hood of her raincoat.

As instructed, we’d arrived at Willows Beach Tea Room at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday. Because of the deluge, I’d hoped shooting would be moved indoors. No such luck.

Director John Kent Harrison said we’d shoot outside. Apparently in films, when dealing with the unexpected, you just go with it. For example, Harrison told the folk congregated at the Willows Beach Tea Room that he’d once worked with a wild bear. Later, I realized he must have been talking about the film, A Bear Called Winnie, which he directed.

“You just follow the bear,” Harrison said solemnly. “Just follow the bear.”

Everyone nodded thoughtfully. To me, following a wild bear sounded more appealing than spending 21Ú2 straight hours in the rain. People were remarkably cheerful about it, though. Cameramen gamely wrapped their cameras and bodies in plastic bags.

“We are opting to play to the rain,” declared a crew member in the manner of a general leading his troops to certain death.

“Yay!” said Kristine Ash.

Ash is the owner and trainer of Tessie, a Yorkshire terrier who is the canine lead in Hattie’s Heist. Tessie wears racing goggles and a helmet. Sometimes she goes motorbike riding with Ash, who sported a Harley-Davidson jacket.

Ollie auditioned to be the doggie lead, but lost to Tessie, who’s super smart. Befitting a star, Tessie wore a collar decorated with rhinestones glued on by Ash. Ollie stared at blinged-out Tessie admiringly, perhaps hoping they could eat tissue paper together. She remained indifferent.

Tessie was cold, too. Luckily, she had a sweater and a cosy blanket. Ollie had no sweater or blanket. Miller noticed this as we huddled miserably in the Willows Beach changing room between shoots, taking refuge from the storm.

“Can somebody get this poor dog a blanket?” Miller said.

It sounded like an order — and Miller is the star. A plaid blanket was produced. Ollie was wrapped like a sausage roll. His bread-stick tail reassumed its customary curled position.

Driving home after the shoot, we — me, my wife and Ollie — all felt happy. “Too bad about the rain,” my wife said. “So uncomfortable for everyone.”

“Uncomfortable? Perhaps,” I said. “But as they say in the movies, ‘Sometimes you just have to follow the bear.’ ”

Adrian Chamberlain

© Copyright 2013

OLDIES STEAL LIMELIGHT: Times Colonist September 12, 2013

13 Sep

maxinemiller-jpgThe title of John Kent Harrison’s 1990 drama Beautiful Dreamers could also describe his creative collaborators and elderly characters in Hattie’s Heist, a homegrown romp about the adventures of a silver-haired Robin Hood and her canine sidekick.

The veteran filmmaker says it will be like a family reunion when he starts shooting here Sept. 28, fresh from editing Christmas in Conway, a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation for ABC, he just wrapped in North Carolina with Mary-Louise Parker and Andy Garcia.

Hattie’s Heist writer-producer Prudence Emery, the Hollywood publicist now based in Oak Bay, worked with Harrison on his film starring Rip Torn as Walt Whitman, the American poet who influenced the Canadian superintendent (Colm Feore) of a mental institution in London, Ont., Harrison’s birthplace. He will also reunite with three other Beautiful Dreamers collaborators— Lawrence Shragge, who composed his feature debut score; editor Ron Wisman; and set decorator Richard Paris.

“I love Pru and she’s done so much for so many people, so I just volunteered,” said Harrison, who added that he can’t wait to direct Emery’s comic caper starring Maxine Miller (Party of Five) — or “Canada’s answer to Betty White,” as Emery calls her.

Miller plays a financially struggling senior who robs banks to protest their obscene profits, giving her proceeds to the poor.

After a colourful casting call for dogs in Oak Bay last fall, Tessie, an adorable Yorkshire terrier and registered therapy pet owned by Kristine Ash, beat 65 other canine contenders to land the role as Hattie’s mischievous scooter-riding sidekick.

Emery, whose low-budget short is being financed largely through online fundraising, was elated to learn this week that actor Christopher Gaze, founder of Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach, has agreed to play Hattie’s suitor, a retired RCMP officer.

“That becomes challenging for Hattie, of course, because she’s robbing a bank,” deadpanned Emery.

Gaze joins Matt Frewer (Max Headroom), who plays a flummoxed policeman, and Carolyn Sadowska as Queen Elizabeth, with cameos by retired CTV news anchor Lloyd Robertson and ZoomerMedia’s Moses Znaimer that were shot in Toronto in June.

“Lloyd did a fake newscast about banks making 75 per cent profits and Moses talks to zoomers about getting on with your life no matter what age you are, that you’ll regret things you haven’t done,” recalled Emery, who is well-connected after working as a unit publicist for decades on dozens of films such as Good Will Hunting, A History of Violence and Crash.

Harrison, an animal lover who seems inseparable from Blue, his beloved Great Dane, is no stranger to working with four-legged talent. He directed bear cubs, for instance — and introduced film star Michael Fassbender as a Canadian soldier who adopts an orphaned cub, the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh — in A Bear Named Winnie.

“An animal who wears sunglasses and a leather hat is somewhat different,” laughs Harrison. “And I haven’t worked with motorized scooters before.”

Hattie’s Heist will be the second film the Portland, Ore.-based filmmaker has made here. A seasoned Hallmark director, he came in 2006 to direct Crossroads: A Story of Forgiveness, the true-life drama starring Dean Cain as a man who decides to forgive a teenage street racer rather than avenge the death of his wife and daughter.

Directing a short film over four days in Oak Bay and Fernwood, where She Said gallery will become a bank, seems worlds away from such projects, or directing TV miniseries such as Harrison’s Pope John Paul II with Jon Voight, or Helen of Troy.

“It’s exactly the same but probably harder because I don’t have people to do my bidding,” he says. “We’re all in this together, doing everything. I love the experience of making movies when everyone’s a family. We’re all in the same tribe.”

He said he was attracted to the short film’s slapstick comedy potential while also conveying an uplifting message. “It’s about the zoomers [defined by Znaimer as “baby boomers with zip”] and all of us who are manning the ramparts, next in line for the experience.”

Take one of Emery’s favourite scenes involving “Hattie’s gang” of seniors found at a casting call at the Belfry, for instance.

“They stop traffic by walking really slowly with their walkers so nobody can get by when she’s robbing the bank,” she said. When the coast is clear, the seniors grab their walkers and split.

While getting Hattie’s Heist to camera has been time-consuming — it was originally slated to start shooting in May — Emery says it’s been a serendipitous experience.

After learning about the sudden death of Ken Lawson, the Spooksville producer who had originally signed on as production manager, a respected young B.C. producer stepped up to the plate.

A mutual friend, production designer Linda del Rosario, told Patti Poskitt about Lawson’s death and Emery’s dilemma. Poskitt, who had recently lost her own mother, offered her services for free.

“I’m really touched by the generosity of everybody,” Emery said. “I couldn’t do this without Patti.”

Michael Reid, Times Colonist, September 12, 2013


3 Sep

Belfry Theatre Audition Notice For the independent short film HATTIE’S HEIST

AUDITION DATE: Monday, Sept. 9, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

STORY: Hattie is an impoverished senior who is inspired by Canada’s favourite anchor man Lloyd Robertson, media maven Moses Znaimer and the Queen to embrace the future. She forms a gang to rob a bank and shares the spoils with her peers – a modern Robin Hood. When she discovers her suitor is a retired RCMP officer, her life gets complicated.

ROLES: We are looking for seven female seniors with acting experience and a sense of adventure to play members of Hattie’s gang, four of whom will have dialogue. It would be useful to have some dance training mainly because you must be limber enough to participate in a Tai Chi class and strong enough to pick up a walker and run (not far). Two of you must be willing to learn how to ride four-wheel scooter and one, an electric wheelchair. We supply machines and a handsome instructor.

AUDITION REQUIREMENTS: Please be prepared to tell a joke or a funny story. If you have a sweat suit, preferably colourful, please wear it. We’ll be testing for walker capabilities.

POLICEWOMAN: We are also looking for a young female police officer.

NOTE: We will be filming the audition.

FILM DATES: You must commit to four days on set from Sept. 28th to Oct. 1 and provide your own transportation to locations: two days Fernwood, one day Willows Beach and Anderson Park and one day interior Hattie’s house in Oak Bay. In addition to having a lot of fun, you will receive an honorarium and meals.

AUDITION ADDRESS: Take the door at the base of the Belfry overlooking the square- 1291 Gladstone Ave. You’ll see the sign.

APPOINTMENT: To book a time, please contact Elicia Harris, 250-208-2024

RESUMES: Email resumes and head shots with phone number to

Check out our website

Note that this is not a Belfry Theatre Production


3 Jun


OAK BAY/VICTORIA, B.C.,  June 3, 2013The comedy-drama short Hattie’s Heist starring Maxine Miller and Matt Frewer starts principal photography on location in Oak Bay/Victoria on September 28th, 2013 under the direction of John Kent Harrison, with Lloyd Robertson and Moses Znaimer making cameo appearances.

An impoverished senior inspired by the Queen, a national newscaster and media maven to become an international bank robber, shares the spoils with her peers.  Her life becomes complicated when her new suitor turns out to be a retired RCMP officer and her dog develops a penchant for running away.

Hattie’s Heist marks Maxine Miller ‘s (Diary of a Whimpy Kid, Love Happens, The Battle of the Bulbs) 80th production.  Miller, who plays Hattie, regards herself as Betty White’s younger sister.  Matt Frewer, who plays a flummoxed policeman, is best known as Max Headroom recently completed Orphan Black for BBC America, and Falling Skies for TNT.

Lloyd Robertson and Moses Znaimer play cameo roles of themselves and Carolyn Sadowska portrays HM the Queen.  A Yorkshire Terrier called Tessie plays Hattie’s devoted but mischievous dog.

“This is a story of a senior citizen who decides to take on the banks,” says screenwriter/executive producer Prudence Emery.The banks, after all, are the villains in this contemporary world.  This is her form of protest.   She becomes a modern Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to give the poor.   We think it’s a funny and appropriate message for our time.”

“It is not a story to encourage oldsters to rob banks, but an inspirational tale to encourage them to fulfill their dreams before it is too late,” says executive producer Pat Ferns (Captain Cook:  Obsession and Discovery and Darwin’s Brave New World).

Director John Kent Harrison says, “Hattie’s Heist is a romp with a walker and a pratt fall or two on the slippery slope to carpe diem.”

Film and television director and screenwriter John Kent Harrison (JKH) has recently joined the team.  He is best known for his work in the international mini-series format.  In 2010 he was nominated by the Director’s Guild of America as Best Television Director of The Year (in movie and mini series format).  His recent Hallmark Hall of Fame, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler won an Emmy and also earned a Golden Globe nomination for Anna Paquin.  Most recently he wrote the four-hour mini-series, War Paint, about the rivalry between Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein and the rise of the beauty culture in New York, London and Paris, 1915-1940.

JKH brought composer Lawrence Shragge aboard who has scored many of Harrison’s films, including When Love is not Enough: the Lois Wilson Story, which garnered Shragge his first Prime Time Emmy nomination. VFX supervisor is Brendan Taylor (Hanna, Lust, Caution and Taking Woodstock) and Director of Photography is David Malysheff (Take Off, The Best Places to Kiss, Off the Map).

The screenplay is by Prudence Emery, who serves as executive producer along with Pat Ferns, CM, produced by Patti Poskitt and co-produced by Alix Cameron; Hattie’s Heist shoots for five days.

– 30 –

Further information from:

Prudence Emery

And the winner is … Tessie!

22 Nov

Photo by Ben Fox

A Yorkshire terrier whose signature attire includes goggles, a tiny leather jacket and motorcycle helmet has wagged her way into the hearts of fans, said Prudence Emery as she revealed the canine star of Hattie’s Heist.

It was a “dog fight to the finish,” with Ollie the pug and Arthur, a Pomeranian poodle cross, not far behind, said the writer-producer of the short comedy, starring Maxine Miller (Robson Arms) as a senior who becomes an unlikely bank robber.

Sixty-five dogs unleashed their talents at a casting call in Oak Bay last month to determine who would become top dog.

The five-year-old canine star was born in Cumberland and is a registered therapy pet who works with owner Kristine Ash at Oak Bay Lodge. Ash has trained Tessie, who often rides in her own seat on Ash’s Harley-Davidson, since she was 11 weeks old.

Tessie will play Hattie’s scooter-riding sidekick who inadvertently introduces her to a suitor – a kindly RCMP officer.

Runner-up Ollie has been cast in a supporting role as the Moun-tie’s canine companion. The other finalists – Arthur, Bandit the long-haired chihuaha and Papillon Marcel – will be offered roles as background performers, Emery said. “This has been a great deal of fun,” she said. “Everybody, including humans, [was] well-behaved.”

The film’s crowd-funding campaign at hattiesheist ends Nov. 30.

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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