'Huggo' follows April a grief-stricken woman who forms an unusual attachment to a stuffed toy bunny as she struggles to get life back on track. 'Huggo' is a new female driven short film by the team at FlyGirl Films, written by Rachael Sampson and directed by Katie Harriman.
Welcome to HUGGO!
Huggo follows a grief-stricken woman April who forms an unusual attachment to a stuffed toy bunny as she struggles to get life back on track.
Writer - RACHAEL SAMPSON
Rachael Sampson is an up-and-coming London-based screenwriter from West Yorkshire. She is known for writing gritty, heartfelt screenplays regarding working-class culture and female autonomy through a comedic and dramatic lens. Her quirky, Yorkshire voice landed her a place on Kay Mellor’s Think Tank programme in 2018, where she developed a TV series pitched by Rollem Productions to BBC, Channel 4 and ITV. Her texts, scripts and scores have won local competitions and made shortlists, while others have been published and performed in theatres and studios in York and London. She holds a distinction master’s degree in writing for the stage and broadcast media from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (2021), and a first class bachelor’s degree in Theatre Studies (2018). Rachael is also a professional film critic, writing reviews, features and essays for FilmInquiry.com.
Director - KATIE HARRIMAN
Katie Harriman is a director and cinematographer from (and living in) Yorkshire. In the early days, Katie gained TV and film experience as a runner (C4) , camera assistant (C4) and assistant editor. She founded production company Fly Girl Films in 2013 from her tiny flat in Goole and has worked as a director and cinematographer on music videos, documentaries, art films and community film projects ever since. The start of the pandemic coincided with a big burn out episode which forced Katie to reevaluate her work life. Narrative film is where she found her true passion but due to self doubt and juggling home life as a mother, Katie had previously shied away. So, from 2020 onwards Katie dived straight in, directing comedy short “Last Orders” which is currently on the festival circuit and winner of Feel the Reel’s audience award, Best Comedy Film at Flicks International Festival and has been shortlisted for finalist in the Kino Short Film Fest. Katie then worked on a string of short films including BFI ‘Scratch me’ short “Stupid” (DoP), “Harold Broog’t” (DoP), “The Cleverest Thief” (DoP), “Unsilenced” (Camera Op), “Christmas Wish” (writer/director) and is currently in production with “Bouncy Balls” (writer/director). Katie is a supporter of Brit Crew Stories and the movement that is sweeping the film and TV industry. She believes in a safer, more inclusive and accessible environment for filmmakers and strives to give opportunities to people who wouldn’t usually have access to the industry due to the often long hours and unfair demands. This was something that was put to practice on the set of Last Orders.
Producer - AMY BANKS
Amy Banks is an award winning independent producer, her winning shorts include Unleaded (2014): Winner of the Audience Award Watersprite, “Best of the Fest” Seattle Film Festival and Vimeo Short fo the Week, Jamie (2016); Winner of the Alternative Spirit Award at Rhode Island International Film Festival and selected at the BFI Flare LGBTQ Film Festival as one of their #fiveFilmsforFreedom. Amy has found time to work with Sundance London and the BFI London Film Festival. She has provided filming services for clients including HR Palaces, W11 Opera, Getty Images and East Creative. She further worked as a Sales Associate for Celsius Entertainment on their projects and presentation at Berlinale, FilmArt and Cannes Film Market. Amy’s latest films include La Boulangeire (2017), The Watcher Her (2018), Grasslands (2018) starring Julia Brown; Man of the Land (2018) starring Michael Byrne and OLVE (2020) which screened at the London Short Film Festival and Leeds International Film Festival. Amy recently produced an opera length feature film ’The Fire of Olympus’ (2021) with East View Film and sold online to an international distributor and streaming service MarqueeTV. Amy is currently a member of the 2021 cohort of the prestigious BFI Network x BAFTA Crew programme and is preparing to film her next feature film titled Lost Seoul the true story of Jin Stearns in 2022 in both the US and South Korea.
Director of Photography - AIMEE BANT
Aimee is a 26 year old filmmaker and photographer based in East Yorkshire. Graduating from the University in Lincoln with a degree in Media Production in 2016, she went on to work part time as an usher in an independent cinema whilst freelancing as a camera assistant. She has assisted for film production companies including Emmerson Films, Fly Girl Films and Tungsten Media on arts, documentary and commercial projects. She has also worked as an AC and as a stills photographer on various independent short films. Aimee has worked regularly alongside director Katie Harriman in the Fly Girl Films team and together on independent shorts. In 2020, they worked in the camera team for Hull based documentary Unsilenced, produced by Spinster Films, which explored the impact of the pandemic on the lives of young women. In October 2019 Aimee took the role of director of photography for her first short film, Last Orders, a female fronted comedy drama written by Amy Charles and directed by Katie. It has since had success on its festival round, including awards for best comedy film and best cinematographer at Flicks Film Festival, and an honorable mention from LIMFF. Aimee pursued camera operating in 2020 and founded A Cam Visuals, a film production company. Going forward she aims to work on more shorts and independent feature films as a cinematographer, especially looking for stories that represent women and the LGBTQ+ community.
April stacks shelves at the local supermarket in Whitby with a baby carrier strapped to her chest. Inside the carrier comfortably sits Huggo – a giant, cuddly, toy bunny.
April lives in a hotel room away from friends, family and judgement. One day, Will (April’s partner) tracks her down and expresses concern that she’s still attached to Huggo. As they argue, Huggo falls into the bathwater, causing April to break down. Will calms her and dries Huggo before spending the night. He wakes the next day alone in bed.
April sneaks out with Huggo and heads for the cliffs in the dead of night. She charges for the edge, but her foot gets caught in arabbit burrow - preventing her demise. She sits on a bench that looks out to sea, watching the sun rise as she clutches Huggo tightly - unable to comprehend her actions. Julia (the Whitby Abbey vicar) sits next to April and tells her she needs to let Huggo go. If she doesn’t, she will never move on.
From the distance, Will bolts over fearing the worst. April takes Will by the hand and leads him to the cliff edge. She opens Huggo up by a hidden fastening which reveals a packet of ashes. She scatters her son’s remains, watching them mix with the elements.
I read this script whilst pregnant with my little boy Leo. As a mother and expectant mother, the themes in Huggo were undeniably raw, heart-warming and relatable. I felt as though April’s choices and actions (however irrational and bizarre they may seem at first), were all perfectly unravelled, resulting in a totally different perspective by the end of the script. The story is told with humour and naivety, making this unspoken topic feel much more vivid in my mind. April and her choices feel far more authentic than if the script was centred around a bereaved mother
crying non-stop throughout the entire 12 pages (which most people imagine bereaved mothers do). The ending hit me hard. I felt for the mothers who had grieved and were grieving, and I wanted to make this film in honour of them, their choices and their strength.
In a heart-breaking twist of fate, I lost my son Leo at 18 weeks during my pregnancy. Now, making this film means more to me than I could have ever imagined.
Until recently, mothers weren’t even able to see their stillborn babies after birth. The death of a child has always been something we don’t talk about, something swept under the carpet, something we pretend didn’t happen. If that’s how we treat the subject, then how are grieving mothers supposed to deal with their emotions? Some experience it in similar ways to April.
They don’t understand how to process that grief and shut themselves off from the world. Since losing Leo I’ve spoken to many mothers who have experienced the same thing and it is something that’s experienced by a lot of people but isn’t talked about enough. I hope Huggo brings comfort, understanding, hope and a little bit of love to a topic that is still very much taboo.
WHY THIS STORY/VISION
Huggo was written by Rachael Sampson, born out of her own grief when her pet bunny Hugo Stiglitz died (yes, he was named after the character in Inglorious Basterds). She had all this pain and she didn’t know where to put it or what to do with it, so she wrote this script to soothe her soul. In the midst of greed, the irrational seems rational , so she considered putting the ashes of Hugo into his toy bunny. As she slowly came to terms with her loss, she recognised this absurdity and thought it would make an intriguing cinematic image. Huggo is a way of healing, telling a story about grief, showcasing there is no right way to grieve and there is nothing to be ashamed of if you struggle to let go.
Huggo is a difficult subject, A heartfelt, grief-stricken story softly wrapped in humour and eccentricities, reminiscent of Back to Life (2019) and End of the Fucking World (2017). We plan to add a dreamlike, retro vibe to the photography by using a Cinebloom filter, similar to Inside Llewyn Davies (2013), teamed with strong, coloured lighting as show in La La Land (2016), underscored with a soft, 80/90’s inspired soundtrack with the aid of local artists and musicians.
Wes Anderson-esque symmetry will be used to accentuate the understanding and sharing of grief between characters, such as the bench scene between April and Julia, and April and Will’s hotel scene.
We are striving forward to bring this film to life! With your help, we are aiming to raise £5,000 to complete our budget. HUGGO is a very detailed, ambitious and heartfelt short film with an important message. The story is relayed over a couple of days and includes some mesmerising coastal Yorkshire locations in and around Whitby and a wonderful ensemble cast. The funding will enable the film to retain high production values across all sections of the filmmaking process. In return for your contribution and help with the project we have created some fantastic perks which we hope you’ll enjoy.
Particularly with HUGGO this project is about spreading the word. Empowering couples and those who have dealt with loss and grief in a variety of ways are crucial to starting conversations and breaking the taboo surrounding in particular still births. Your support will enable us to have this conversation in an accessible and entertaining way whilst fin dinging new ways of addressing the issue at the heart of HUGGO.
We are planning our shoot for 3 days in early June 2022. We have secured various location, including the supermarket and hotel and are currently in negotiations to film one of our days at Whitby graveyard overlooking the expansive North Sea.
Can you help us spread the word? Please consider sharing this campaign with your friends, family and followers on your social channels. Every mention is a big boost and will allows us to reach a wider audience. The underlying message of this story for us is an important one and we hope that with this campaign we will be successful in translating this idea and message to screen.
Thanks for taking the time to read about our film HUGGO. We hope you doing us on this journey in creating this short film.
For all the latest updates, follow us on:
Twitter - https://twitter.com/HuggoShortFilm
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/huggo_short_film/
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!