Placenta Pate is a love letter to parenting, writer director Tia Salisbury tells us.
Germ of real-life
“There’s the germ of a real-life story in there, which I can’t really talk about too much without giving away some of the film,” confides Tia. Whatever it is, it’s an absurd situation that she’s always wanted to include in the film ‘because it’s hilarious’.
That highlights the comedy drama vibe that Tia explores in her films and Placenta Pate.
The story takes a look at one moment in the life of a couple who are having problems with breastfeeding. For various reasons, they are not being particularly honest with each other about tackling the issues around that. The Placenta Pate becomes the thing they hide behind when actually there’s something much deeper going on that they haven’t resolved.
“I wanted to make something that’s really about the couple at the heart of it, and leave them in a better place as a couple, knowing that they haven’t licked parenting one bit at all. But they’re closer for the 12 minutes that we spend with them,” says Tia.
“It is an interesting time. Especially for the characters. It’s a same-sex couple in the film. The birth mum is still really struggling, but her partner is like ‘we’re on it’.”
“In the edit, I was looking at it, thinking how hard that time has been for new parents at the moment.”
For the film, Tia did a lot of research with a couple – Lauren and Aisha – and their little boy Loudon, who is the baby in the film, and dipped into the oddness of bringing up a youngster in pandemic times.
The pandemic, as you would expect, also played a part in the production. Tia was determined to queer cast one of the characters but that and face-to-face auditioning became impossible. Georgia was lined up to play Erin, and Beth – who also graduated Bristol Old Vic Theatre School – became the other character. They were due to film in July and, with two days to filming, one of the actors got pinged by ‘the dreaded app’. They lost money on insurance, and reorganising was difficult, which after a big false start happened six weeks later.
“I had to write a script with new parents who were never going to touch the baby, because the actresses weren’t allowed to hold the baby,” says Tia, stressing the need to keep everyone safe. “It had its own unique challenges.”
Tia is editing remotely, too, with Heppie Collins, who works on broadcast drama. With the lockdown boom in TV production, it’s really hard to get crew and finish your film if you’re short filmmaking.
“It was the most fun I’ve had making a short”
“We got commissioned off the back of a film that took 48 hours, and it’s taken us nearly nine months from commission to delivery,” says Tia. “We did have a dream cast and crew – I was so lucky,” says Tia. “For me, it was the most fun I’ve had making a short.
“It’s hard making shorts, and getting money for features is even harder. So you’re in a funny place as an independent filmmaker with storytelling ambitions. But that’s just how we process our world. We reflect back our experiences and try to connect with people, and have a little human giggle at how absurd our lifestyle is.”