When Bea Macapagal was writing her short film, Norah & Poppy, she already pictured who would bring the characters to life.
Mackenzie and Daelyn De Zilva would portray Norah and Poppy, two young sisters who live with their Lolo (Filipino grandfather) after their mother suddenly dies.
“When I was writing the script, I had always imagined my dad to be the role of Lolo,” Macapagal said.
There was just one problem — he had never acted a day in his life.
“It’s never something he’s even said he was interested in, but when writing the script, it just made sense in my head,” Macapagal said.
She started casting for the role, seeking an actor who could match the chemistry and energy of the child actors. But none of them seemed genuine.
“So I begged my dad to do it and after a few weeks of persuasion and help from my mom, he finally agreed,” Macapagal said, “and I’m so happy he did.”
The short film, shot in Hamilton on a $10,000 budget with Camp 905, was entered into CBC’s Short Film Face Off.
It is now one of nine short films that will stream on CBC Gem (people can also watch on CBC TV this Saturday and next Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.).
“It still feels pretty surreal to know we’re going to be screening on CBC with all these other amazing films,” Macapagal said.
“To be one of the nine films chosen across Canada is amazing.”
She said the film is close to her heart not only because her dad is in it, but also since all of the actors are Filipino.
“A lot of the production design in the film is Filipino artwork and little bits of personality here and there. We took a lot of the art and little figurines and photographs from my parents house,” she said.
“It’s easier for me to tell a story from a point of view I can really understand.”
That said, people don’t need to be Filipino to understand the story or be moved by it. In the film, Poppy winds up in the hospital, forcing Norah and Lolo to confront their fear of losing another family member and help Poppy.
Norah & Poppy airs Saturday evening on CBC. After the episode airs, people can vote for it or others. The winner gets $30,000.
Macapagal said if she wins, she hopes to use the money to make her first feature film.