“Life is a box of chocolates” is a phrase that has been spread far and wide since we heard it first from Forrest Gump’s mother. Put that box in the center of a welcome home party, replace ‘life’ with sexuality, add lots of French kissing, and here you have the start to Director Patricia Chica’s Morning After. The 15 minute short film plunges you into the deep end with its vast amount of kissing (and yes, there’s a lot of it). Nonetheless, do not be fooled by this. Give it a couple more minutes and you’ll see that it’s more than a ploy to seduce you into liking the film; it’s actually all very relevant. Writer-Actor Kristian Hodko collaborates with Chica to look into the free-spirited nature of our sexual identity in a society where people are trying to live a life without labels.
Morning After boasts 10 wins, 3 of which are for Best Director category, and a number of nominations*. Chica is currently developing her first feature film Montréal Girls, a story that has been described as “an edgy coming of age drama”.
Below is an interview with Patricia Chica about her short film and her upcoming feature.
K: Morning After is a short that centers around the relevant, hot topic of gender and sexual identity. Where did the idea come from and what attracted you as the director to create this short?
P: The idea came from the writer Kristian Hodko. He pitched it to me 3 years go during the [Toronto] Female Eye Film Festival. He told me he had a 10-page script about 5 friends spending the night together, eating chocolate, and French kissing. I told him he had me at “french kissing”. I became so interested in this story because I’ve always found it really hard to define sexual identity, and my strong belief is that sexual identity should not be defined only by the physical experience of attraction. I believe that human desire and connection can be defined by 4 different energies: the physical, emotional, intellectual, and the spiritual. The mission statement of this short was to come to the conclusion that sexual identity and sexual attraction is defined by energy. That exploration of energies between people is the subtext to the short. It opens the dialogue [about exploring energies between people and] as to what it is that makes someone attracted to another person?
K: A lot of your work is quite sensual, such as your music videos with Kelly Padrick. Where does this stem from?
P: I’m not sure. I’ve always been attracted to seduction and sensuality and the emotions through body language. I come from a very conventional family and my parents were from El Salvador; our family was Catholic and we never spoke about sexuality. I was never allowed to express myself as a young woman through sensuality or sexuality. Growing up in a very repressed and restricted environment made me crave it more than the other people who grew up with more ‘open’ families. When I think about it, it comes from a very conservative upbringing, and now I feel I am free to explore what I couldn’t do in my teens and early twenties.
K: Your upcoming feature Montréal Girls is about an Egyptian young man who goes to study medicine in Montréal, but his experiences awaken the inner artistic poet in him. How did you become involved with this feature?
P: My cowriter, Kamal John Iskander, and I were touring the festival circuit in 2011. We always ended up being selected at the same festivals. One thing led to another, and we met again at the Oaxaca FilmFest in 2011. He said he had an idea for a film about Montréal Girls and punk rock, and that he’d love to have my input as a woman who grew up in Montréal. We did a Skype session for 5 hours discussing what girls in Montréal are like. He sent me the very first raw, preliminary draft, and after reading it I told him I loved it and wanted to be involved. Kamal puts in his experiences as someone from Egypt, and I put in my experiences for the Montréal side of the story. Now, after so many years of inputting my own experiences, the story has become very personal to me.
K: How has the process of piecing together this feature been different to how you prepared for your previous shorts?
P: It’s a different ball game, both the industry and the players. I did 3 trips to Cannes to make sure that we met the right partners. We went to meet producers, investors, and agents, and worked on getting the word out. I wanted the most prestigious people I could find and I’m lucky because Film Clinic – the top producers in Egypt—are on board with us. They love the script and concept. We also have Egyptian star Ahmed Malek attached. We hired LA casting director Carmen Aiello, who was instrumental in bringing the script to talent agencies like CAA. Having a good script is the key, but you also have to find the right people to attach and collaborate with.
K: What would you give to other new up-and-coming directors in the industry?
P: For both male and female directors my advice would be the same. Follow your gut and never play it safe. I just don’t want to collaborate with people who play it safe. I want to think outside the box and go get it no matter what.
© Katusha Jin (7/10/18) FF2 Media
Featured Image: Morning After (2017) Poster
Top Photo: Patricia Chica and Martin Bouchard
Middle Photo: "Michael" (Thomas Vallières), "Edward" (Kristian Hodko), "Teegan" (Zoé deGrand Maison), "Dana" (Jordana Lajoie), "Alex" (Joey Scarpellino).
Bottom Photo: Patricia Chica with Morning After cast.
Photo Credits: Byron A. Martin Productions and Flirt Films
Morning After Trailer:
Here is a Behind-The-Scenes Documentary for Morning After:
*Below is the list of awards and nominations for Morning After.
• Winner of the Best Director Award (Oaxaca FilmFest, Mexico) • Winner of the Grand Prize - Flicker's Ambassador Award (Rhode Island International Film Festival, Providence, RI, USA) • Best Overall Short Award (FilmOUT, San Diego, CA, USA) • Winner of the Best Director Award (Studio City International Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA, USA) • Winner of the Best Director Award (all categories) (Magnolia Independent Film Festival, Mississippi, USA) • Winner of the Award of Distinction (Canada Shorts International Film Festival, Saint John, NB, Canada) • Winner of the Best Performances Award (Feedback International Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA, USA) • Winner of the Best Music Award (Feedback International Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA, USA) • Winner of an "Honourable Best" Jury Mention (CineKink Film Festival, New York, NY, USA) • Winner of the Independent Spirit Award • Nominated for the Excellence in Directing Award • Nominated for the Excellence in Producing Award • Nominated for the Excellence in Screenwriting Award • Nominated for the Best Original Score Award (Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, Idyllwild, CA, USA) • Finalist - 25 Best International Shorts (InShort Film Festival, London, UK and Krakow, Poland)