‘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.

mreid@timescolonist.com

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