High Heels

15 min dance drama
directed by Tonya Kay
written by Robert Beaucage and Tonya Kay

Natalia, a young burlesque hotshot accustomed to headlining, is shocked and slighted when the headliner spot goes to Momma Money Button, an elderly showgirl. Adding insult to injury, Momma requests Natalia help strap on her high heels for her. Seething, Natalia kneels and fastens a worn set of ballroom shoes onto the old lady’s feet - and leaves one of the straps unbuckled in a plot to sabotage her unlikely nemesis. But Natalia soon learns that the old lady is an Old Legend and is not easily thwarted once she steps on stage.

TREATMENT

YOUNG VAUDEVILLE ARTISTS, in preshow drag, stretch, vocalize and socialize on Vancouver’s historic Rio Theatre stage in anticipation of this evening’s special performance.A fabulous burlesque hotshot, NATALIA, showboats her rhinestoned performance panties, when in walks the Artistic Director, drag queen STORMY GREY, with an elderly dancer on her arm, MOMMA MONEY BUTTON. The cast is on the edge of their seats as Stormy Grey announces the order for tonight’s show. The headliner spot goes to ... Momma Money Button?The performers rush to Natalia in muted uproar; “It should have been you,” “It’s always you,” “That old woman is headlining?!”As the curtain rises, our unlikely rivals find themselves alone in the dressing room. Awkward silence. Momma Money Button addresses Natalia, “Honey, can you come here and help me fasten my heels? I can’t reach’em anymore.”Seething, Natalia kneels down and straps a worn set of high heels onto the old lady’s gnarled feet - but, determined to sabotage and upstage her nemesis, Natalia leaves one of the shoes unbuckled. For her performance, Natalia dances technically brilliantly and seductively and the crowd whistles and cheers. Triumphant, she then waits with glee to witness her competition fail.But when Momma Money Button steps onstage, she transforms from Old Lady to Old Legend. She can’t kick, she can’t pirouette like the 20-somethings, but her infectious smile proves that it's decades of experience, humor and confidence that truly make a woman ... irresistible. Mid-performance, the rogue high heel trips up Momma Money Button and the audience gasps, but the seasoned professional works the footwear malfunction into her act and the audience worships her even more! Momma Money Button earns a standing ovation and Natalia’s performance is forgotten.Natalia slinks back to the dressing room. Moments later, the old vaudeville legend enters and plops down on her chair, decompressing before the curtain call. Without a word, Natalia crosses to her senior, kneels down at Momma Money Button’s feet and gently, securely and humbly fastens her high heels.

CHARACTERS

Natalia - 23, female, open ethnicity. Glamorous, technically trained dancer performing burlesque (no nudity) who can hardly believe how talented she is herself and, as skilled in dance as she is, she lacks the heart and soul that comes from a greater depth of experience than she has yet ... LEADMomma Money Button - 70s, female, open ethnicity. A Vaudeville Legend, performing since the 1960s, who is wise in experience, generous of heart, aged in body but still more than capable of wowing an audience ... LEADStormy Grey - 30s, any gender, black. A drag queen and the artistic director of the show - over-the-top fabulous, perfectly coiffed, creatively demanding and a bit out of touch with those around her ... LEADFranky - 40s, female, nonbinary or transman, open ethnicity. A talented singer, Frank Sinatra impersonator and a loyal friend ... LEADHarry - 30s, male, open ethnicity. A would-be circus plate spinner, bumbling, awkward ... SUPPORTING

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

by Tonya Kay

This story actually happened to me.The previous decades of my life have been that of a professional dancer, performing on Broadway, in Las Vegas and on tour. I'd been the young hotshot who took for granted her headlining spot on every stage and one night in Hollywood, I entered the theatre, read the posted show flow and gasp - someone had taken my spot! I casually asked whom was headlining (if it wasn't me!) and was introduced to an elderly showgirl in the dressing room. This arthritic exotic dancer asked me to put her shoes on for her since she "couldn't reach her feet anymore"! Shocked and bewildered, I performed my very athletic signature act on stage and waited in the back of the house to see what was so special about this senior citizen strip-teaser and WOW, was I humbled. When she stepped on stage, she exuded pure joy and boundless confidence gained only from decades of experience. She didn't have to dance on those swollen feet at all - she just had to let us behold her having that much fun entertaining - the audience was hers! Later, I found out this was burlesque legend, Satan's Angel, originator of the "fire tits" act. An act I had been tributing for years.That was the day I discovered how much I, and society, are hurting for not having a space to honor our female elders. We write women out as soon as they show crow's feet. We cast 20-something girls opposite 60 year-old men. As women, we do horrible things to our bodies, faces and social media photos to attempt to combat this severe and unchallenged agism while participating in the dismissal of our female elders - if even subconsciously - ourselves. I'm of the age I no longer have grandparents to sit with. And I don't see society recognizing our senior women as a demographic in dire need of representation. I'm going to change that with "High Heels"."High Heels" brings honor to every wrinkle, surgery scar and stretch mark a woman earns on her life journey and achieves this through the vehicle of classic vaudeville - showcasing a mature woman who bares her flaws onstage and has more fun than anyone else in the theatre doing it!Before this, I directed "The Ascension of Ava Delaine", a flash film created and completed in just 10 days, which went on to win the AT&T SHAPE film festival at Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles, CA. I produced "The Journey of Lucy", an official selection at Toronto International Women Film Festival and winner of Best Actress in an Indie Film at Cannes World Film Festival.As director of "High Heels", I choose to continue my passion for movement by choreographing the camera like an intimate dance between actor and technology. For example, our opening weaves us through a cast of cirque performers warming up on stage and will be filmed as a continuous shot.The colors of Natalia’s solos will be crisp, blue neons with hard shadows, highlighting her cold and calculating obsession with perfection. But Momma Money Button’s world will contrast with grainy, warm, retro tones that bring out the heartfelt beauty of experience.As writer, I'm setting "High Heels" at a historic Vancouver theatre to honor the role the arts have played in our city through centuries and to mirror our storyline: the old and well-used are of the greatest value to culture.I am writer-director of this short because I’ve lived every character. I have been the young hotshot who has headlined every stage. I have been the mature dancer revealing scars after radical breast cancer surgery (last year). And most importantly, I have been a member of a society that has deeply needed elder women role models to mentor and guide us in body positivity, sensual confidence and valuable life experience.

CREATIVE TEAM

Tonya Kay, writer / director / producerTonya Kay's career started as a professional dancer on Broadway and in blockbusters. Expect to see dynamic physicality, choreographed camera movements and a fascination with bodies glorified in all their gross, hilarious and sensual shapes in Tonya Kay-created and directed works. Mentored by Birds of Prey director, Cathy Yan, Tonya Kay's film directing debut, The Ascension of Ava Delaine (Amazon Prime), was called a "ridiculously difficult" single-take shot entirely on drone and won the AT&T SHAPE Film Awards with notable funding at Warner Bros Studios. Her tv directorial debut premiered on The CW in Ripley's Believe It Or Not! "Curious Christmas" segment, which she also wrote. With an established film/tv acting career, Tonya Kay works quickly and powerfully with actors' unique psychology as seen in her latest directing efforts; thriller Every Digital Ghost, comedy Band, the Admit One series and a library of artistic music videos with contortionist / songwriter, Lyra Star.

Robert Beaucage, writer / producerRobert Beaucage is an award-winning writer and producer. Their first narrative feature film, Closer to Death, won awards on the festival circuit and Robert’s second feature, dark fantasy, Spike, premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival where it was chosen as part of their Best of the Fest, won Best Fantasy Feature Film at Shriekfest in Los Angeles and has aired continuously by distributors such as Showtime, NBCUniversal, Starz, Amazon and Vudu. Their third feature, Raze, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was released theatrically by IFC Films. With the support of Bob Gale and NBCUniversal, Robert wrote and directed short film, Back to the 2015 Future, shot at Courthouse Square on the Universal Studios Backlot with cameos from several of the original Back to the Future cast members. It premiered at Universal CityWalk as part of the Back to the Future 30th Anniversary celebration and has millions of views on YouTube.

Robert Beaucage, writer / producerRobert Beaucage is an award-winning writer and producer. Their first narrative feature film, Closer to Death, won awards on the festival circuit and Robert’s second feature, dark fantasy, Spike, premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival where it was chosen as part of their Best of the Fest, won Best Fantasy Feature Film at Shriekfest in Los Angeles and has aired continuously by distributors such as Showtime, NBCUniversal, Starz, Amazon and Vudu. Their third feature, Raze, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was released theatrically by IFC Films. With the support of Bob Gale and NBCUniversal, Robert wrote and directed short film, Back to the 2015 Future, shot at Courthouse Square on the Universal Studios Backlot with cameos from several of the original Back to the Future cast members. It premiered at Universal CityWalk as part of the Back to the Future 30th Anniversary celebration and has millions of views on YouTube.

Jenny Foster, VFXJenny Foster is a seasoned visual effects producer with over 20 years of technical knowledge in traditional and digital narrative storytelling from stage to screen. Jenny builds, delegates and ensures timely deliveries and stunning visuals on multi-million dollar productions. Looking to branch out into new horizons such as animation, VR/AI, and medical uses for entertainment technology and storytelling, Jenny is always on the lookout for new challenges. She is passionate about mentoring young creatives and promoting women in visual effects culture, working closely with marketing and outreach departments to provide recruitment to schools and organizations. With an extensive portfolio that includes major studio projects for Marvel, Amazon, WB, and Netflix, Jenny has established herself as a true industry leader.

Teddy Yonenaka, producerTeddy Yonenaka is an IATSE Department Head helping productions from studios like Marvel, Lucas Films, Netflix and Disney go smoothly for the past 31 years. High Heels marks his sixth film project with director, Tonya Kay.

Teddy Yonenaka, producerTeddy Yonenaka is an IATSE Department Head helping productions from studios like Marvel, Lucas Films, Netflix and Disney go smoothly for the past 31 years. High Heels marks his sixth film project with director, Tonya Kay.

Jordan J. Rivera, producerJordan is a Canadian/American filmmaker based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Born in Prince George, Jordan eventually relocated to New York for 13 years, until returning to Canada, making Vancouver his residence. Jordan earned a joint degree in Fine Arts and Creative Writing from the University of Northern British Columbia and the Emily Carr University of Art and Design and a diploma with honours in Film Production from the Vancouver Film School. He has worked in the production offices of the Man in the High Castle, Altered Carbon and a number of other television shows.

Regina René Lines, producerRegina René Lines is an award-winning, bilingual, Latina producer. Her career in film started in front of the camera as a child actor in a Francis Ford Coppola film and has grown to creating the stories from off-camera as a member of the Producer’s Guild of America (PGA). She recently wrapped production on The Last Horseman, a very ambitious short (8 days/4 locations). Regina’s love of the arts began by training under one of Twyla Tharp’s proteges and she is thrilled to see her passion for movement come full circle as a producer on dance drama, High Heels.

Regina René Lines, producerRegina René Lines is an award-winning, bilingual, Latina producer. Her career in film started in front of the camera as a child actor in a Francis Ford Coppola film and has grown to creating the stories from off-camera as a member of the Producer’s Guild of America (PGA). She recently wrapped production on The Last Horseman, a very ambitious short (8 days/4 locations). Regina’s love of the arts began by training under one of Twyla Tharp’s proteges and she is thrilled to see her passion for movement come full circle as a producer on dance drama, High Heels.

Rogan Lovse, cinematographerRogan Lovse is an aspiring cinematographer with over 8 years of experience on a plethora of IATSE projects in both the lighting and camera departments. Rogan has had the opportunity to learn from a multitude of established cinematographers that have helped to hone his craft. That combined with significant technical knowledge of camera systems, from working as a 1st AC, has led to a budding indie porolio of projects. This year Rogan was accepted into the ASC’s Vision Mentorship Program. Rogan has shot many short films, music videos and other independent projects. Recently, he was awarded Best Cinematography at Vancouver’s 48 hour film competition, Run N Gun.
Believing in the mantra that cinematography is about making informed and intentional choices to support a story with images; Rogan is always looking for a new project to exercise and expand his creative skillset.

Denis Henry Hennelly, editorDenis Henry Hennelly is a loving father and award-winning director/editor who strives to capture authentic human emotion through crafting performances in his work. High Heels will be his second film with Tonya Kay, after Bold Native, a wildly successful independent feature called “revolutionary cinema”. His recent work can be seen on Joaquin Phoenix’s The Animal People, the Spork series and Rock The Bells (Warner Bros).

Denis Henry Hennelly, editorDenis Henry Hennelly is a loving father and award-winning director/editor who strives to capture authentic human emotion through crafting performances in his work. High Heels will be his second film with Tonya Kay, after Bold Native, a wildly successful independent feature called “revolutionary cinema”. His recent work can be seen on Joaquin Phoenix’s The Animal People, the Spork series and Rock The Bells (Warner Bros).

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