Hold Up Heart opens on a liquor store just waiting for something exciting to happen. We got the chance to ask Edward Kiniry-Ostro, the writer, producer, and on-screen Jeff of this wild, comedic ride some questions about the film.
What inspired the premise of the film?
After visiting my local liquor store (Bogie's Liquor, the same shop that we eventually used in the short) an idea sparked. Living in Los Angeles, which places so much emphasis on self-worth, one can’t help but to feel like they’re constantly failing. No one’s pretty enough, no one’s rich enough, but most certainly, no one’s good enough. Inadequacy wafts through our smoggy air. Anyway, I love the vibe of Bogie's. It's a mom-and-pop shop that has some real character, character that hasn’t been photoshopped by the pristine eyes of Hollywood. And, I've always been drawn to comedy, so that night I sat down and wrote the first draft, which led to the final product - a fun look at unrequited love in the face of hard truths.
Were there items in the beginning, when the first guy was planning to buy all those items from the store, that were going to be used or referenced later? Why were they cut, if so?
We had a lot of fun playing with the Guy's story. I kind of saw him as the eyes and ears of the audience. He doesn't know any of the main characters and so he is just trying to play catch up. We had a whole backstory that he was trying to convince his girlfriend that she wasn't pregnant by going to the liquor store to grab a pregnancy test even though he KNEW she WAS pregnant. As he said, "Who likes to admit that they're wrong, right?". We ultimately scrapped it, though, to streamline the story. It felt like we were convoluting it. We wanted it to be focused on the themes of unrequited love and the costs people pay to get it back.
I found the glimpses of the group's backstory very interesting. Was there anything you wanted to expand/did expand but had to cut because of time?
I wrote the script over a few month's time and toiled away with their backstories. While we were definitely interested in these character's lives and who these people were, we were also focused on keeping the action fast and the comedy tight. It's a heist. I don't think there's that much time for exposition if you're trying to get in-and-out. So while we did develop and discuss their backstories at length, we really tried to drop the audience in the middle of these people's lives and hope that they able to pick up what we lay down. Plus, I love stories that aren't so cut-and-dry. I like to leave a little to the imagination. I think it's more fun when you can fill in the blanks
I almost expected another random bystander to come in an survey the damage at the end. Why did the only innocent guy (the guy not in the original group) have to die?
Ha! I like that idea! That would've been fun! Oh, that poor guy... ! Well, I feel like there are always victims (hopefully not as violent!) when it comes to the battlefield of love. Kids, friends, pets! As they say, all's fair in love and war.
I think these people are all so caught up in their own lives that they don't even realize who else is around them. Nor do they really care. They're selfish. It's all kind of sad and pathetic and, for me, that's funny. I can find humor in that. I mean, who would do all of that just for a nose job? And do they really think that they'll be more accepted? More appreciated? Well, unfortunately, yeah, I think they do. I mean there are reality shows about people who want to look like celebrities. How weird! So I thought I'd explore this and, unfortunately, our guy was one of the innocents who got caught up in their personal drama. Is it fair? Not at all, but neither is love. Luckily, we can explore this while having a laugh at life's cruel failures all whilst in the confines of our cozy homes. Yay!
Were there any alternate endings or scenes? Will you be adding them to the blooper reel (if there is one)?
A blooper reel would be fun!
We had a few different edits before we came to the version you see now. There are these awesome clouds and blue sky that are painted on the ceiling tiles. So wonderfully cheesey! We played with 'Lo' seeing this right before she dies, but we ultimately canned it. It felt like we were reaching for an idea without anything to back it up.
We also played with Jeff and Wendy grabbing the gun and then blacking out. Then, we had them just looking at each other. We eventually chose to leave it at that ambiguous look and come out to the shop with only the sound of the gun loading and then a gunshot. Again, I just love leaving the audience with a bit of a question so that they can make their own judgments. Who do you think should die? And then what happens to them?
What indeed! Thank you so much to Edward and everyone on the Hold Up Heart team for an amazing short!
If you missed our review of the film, you can check it out here.