2015 Heartland Film Festival Official Selection, Narrative Short Tough & Cookie is about Delilah, a teenage girl who breaks into a house seeking repayment for a debt, but can’t leave when seven-year-old boy, Oscar, appears and steals her bag. He makes her a deal: if she cooks him mac and cheese, he’ll give it back. Both end up with more than they bargained for.
We spoke with Writer/Director Madeleine Parker about her film:
HF: What is your film about, and how did the project come to be?
MP: My film is about a teenage girl who breaks into an apartment to repay a debt and finds more than she bargained for.
On the surface it is about two kids in a really ruthless world but beneath that it is about how survival is ingrained in all of us.
I wrote the short screenplay at film school for an assessment and thought it would be a good first short out of film school.
HF: What was your role in the production?
MP: I am the writer and director.
HF: Why did you submit to the Heartland Film Festival? Have you been to the Festival before?
MP: The producer and I had heard good things from friends who had been in the festival.
HF: This year’s tagline is “Movies That Stay with You” – what lasting effect will your film have on moviegoers?
MP: The tough and gentle can survive they just do it in different ways.
HF: What has inspired you to become a filmmaker?
MP: I have written since I can remember but the moment I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker was when I was 16 and sitting in a dark cinema watching ‘Beneath Clouds’, an Australian film about an Aboriginal girl who is from an isolated poor town. She is trying to have more and be more than she is and is searching for her identity and I just remember how much it connected with me and it was that moment I wanted to be a filmmaker and make people feel the same through my stories.
HF: What is something that you know about filmmaking now, but you weren’t told when you started your career?
MP: No one told me anything, I was completely clueless, I had no family or friends in the industry. I just acted like I knew what I was doing and did a pretty terrible job if it. The thing I wish I was told was that it is okay to fail and even fail miserably because once you’ve dusted yourself off and picked up the pieces of your shattered ego from the floor, you will have learned way more than if you nailed it the first time round. It will also take time, there is no ticking clock and there is no rush, don’t compare yourself to others and keep fighting and working hard.
HF: What are some of your favorite movies? What’s your favorite worst movie (you know it’s bad, but still love it)?
MP: I have too many favorites…Dog Tooth, Midnight Cowboy, Chinatown, Sullivan’s Travels, Sunset Boulevard, When Harry Met Sally, A Few Good Men and on and on. My favorite worst movie is probably one from my childhood because they were so whacky like Never Ending Story or The Dark Crystal but they are actually pretty cool, just a bit nuts.
HF: How many film festivals has your film been a part of? What do you like the most about the festival experience?
MP: This is our World Premiere so we’ve just started to get it out there and can’t wait for it to travel the world and hopefully connect with people.
HF: Heartland Film Festival moviegoers love filmmaker Q&As. Let’s say a Festival attendee wants to earn some brownie points—what is a question that you’d love to answer, but haven’t yet been asked?
MP: I like surprises.
See Tough & Cookie in Shorts Program 6: An Ashortment of Sorts