Finding Our Way

Hayley’s Home Movie

starring Zoe Greenberg, Linda Sorenson, Tony Rosato, Alli Goldwater and Michele Scarabelli as “Dad’s Girlfriend”

hhm01Hayley (Zoe Greenberg) is a twelve-year old girl working on a school project. Her project is the filming of the story of Cinderella. Taking advantage of different camera angles; different lighting; a young cast and varied locations, Hayley’s movie is progressing well. As the day’s shoot draws to a close, Hayley speaks with her lead man, Josh, about filming the next major scene at her dad’s place on Saturday. Josh comments on how “neat” it is that Hayley’s parents have two “places”. Although Hayley has a soft spot for Josh, she is angered by the boy’s words. When Josh leaves, Hayley speaks with her best friend Elisabeth (who is also “Cinderella”). Hayley doesn’t like it that everyone seems to know about her parents living apart from each other. Elisabeth (Alli Goldwater) tells her that Josh wasn’t being mean with his words. As Hayley accepts this, Elisabeth goes on to say how great it will be to film at Hayley’s dad’s place with all of his “high-tech gadgets”.

Racing home for fear of being late, Hayley leaves Elizabeth. She is tidying up the house by the time her mother (Linda Sorenson) arrives home. As they discuss the days events, Hayley’s mom tells her daughter that she will have to eat alone tonight because she is going out with a “date”. Being disappointed that her date isn’t her dad, Hayley then goes on to ask some awkward questions – some of which her mom doesn’t want to answer. Shortly, the telephone rings and Hayley talks with her dad who has all but forgotten that Hayley is filming at his place on Saturday. Her dad tells her that he won’t actually be home until the next evening but that he will keep the Saturday appointment.

On the way to school the following morning, Hayley ducks into her dad’s place to film some background footage – his high-tech gadgets such as his exercise bicycle. Inside she hears some noise from her dad’s gym. Looking inside she sees an unknown woman using the bike while her dad is working out. Hayley goes into the room and asks who the woman is, the woman asks who Hayley is and Hayley’s dad is clearly both embarrassed and stunned.

“Who is she? And what’s she doing in your bathrobe – the one I gave you..?”

“I’m not a ‘she’…”

hhm02Things become more awkward as Hayley’s dad is unable and unwilling to explain the situation to Hayley, even though his girlfriend wants the cards on the table. An argument ensues between Hayley and her dad which results in Hayley storming out vowing never again to return.

Hayley returns home, too upset to go to school – so much so that she feels like running away. At home, Hayley’s mom tries to explain things the best way she can until the phone rings and she convinces Hayley to speak with her dad. However, the call ends with Hayley stating that she no longer wishes to film her movie at his place and that she hopes he’s “satisfied” with what he’s done.

On a ‘sleep-over’ at Elisabeth’s house, the two friends talk. Elisabeth tries to help Hayley by viewing everything from a different perspective. During the conversation, though, Hayley looks out of Elisabeth’s bedroom window and sees her mom getting into a car with her date. Hayley becomes convinced that her mom only agreed to the ‘sleep-over’ so that Hayley was out of the way when her date turned up. The conversation moves onto Hayley’s hatred of her dad’s new girlfriend – most particularly the fact that she had her dad’s bathrobe on…

“She looked like a dining room… She was wearing these long tacky earrings that looked like a chandelier, and the towel on her head looked like wallpaper.”

hhm03Despite the girl’s appearance, Hayley is more upset that her dad didn’t tell her about his girlfriend before this. Hayley comes up with a plan to run away and, as Elisabeth is her best friend, she must go with her. Reluctantly, Elisabeth agrees. In the darkness of the night, the two girls sneak away. Eventually they end up half asleep in the warm foyer of a hotel. The doorman becomes concerned that the girl’s parents may not be meeting them there (a story cooked up by Hayley to give the girls more time). As the doorman leaves, Elisabeth tells Hayley of her worries that their parents will be calling out the police to look for them and that they will be in big trouble when they’re found. The doorman returns and Hayley comes up with another plan. She asks him to phone two numbers on a piece of paper to express his “concern” for the girls – and then she asks if he would arrange some room service (in the foyer) for them. The doorman refuses the money but says he will arrange something and then asks about the phone numbers.

A short time later sees Hayley and Elisabeth snacking into an impressive feast as laid on by the kindly doorman. As the children eat, the conversation moves on to Hayley’s continuing hatred for both her dad and “that broad”. Elisabeth cuts through the words as she realises that Hayley doesn’t really hate her father.

At that moment, Hayley’s mom and dad arrive in the foyer and take Hayley back home to her mom’s house. The next day, Hayley’s dad goes for a walk with his daughter and explains the situation more fully. He explains that after he and Hayley’s mom split up, he was alone for a long time before Michele – who he describes as a “truly wonderful person” – came into his life. He explains that he and Hayley’s mom will never get back together but that will never stop his love for his daughter. Hayley accepts this and is happier.

Later, everyone is viewing the finished movie of “Cinderella”. Some parts of the traditional storyline have been changed, however. Now Cinderella and Prince Charming can only marry if they will accept the responsibility of each other’s children from previous marriages. The prince asks about the “objections of Cinderella’s wicked stepmother” (the video intercuts with scenes of ‘the dining room on the exercise bicycle’) to which Cinderella replies that “she’ll just have to get used to it”.

The movie proves a great hit with its audience – which includes Hayley’s mom, her dad and his girlfriend. Hayley thanks all the participating cast and her parents, although when she thanks her “daddy’s new girlfriend” she sticks her tongue out. The girlfriend returns the friendly gesture as the owners of both tongues are now much more accepting of each other.


hhm04Hayley’s Home Movie is one segment from the National Film Board of Canada’s Finding Our Way series for pre-teen school discussions. Everyone has seen this type of production during their own schooldays and know that they usually consist of much condescending monolgue which only serves to dull the audience’s interest into a low state of boredom. Sometimes this isn’t true – such as in this instance.

With lively and emotional music combined together with a talented cast, this short film is never slow or dull. It is filmed from the perspective of Hayley which prevents it from becoming condescending.

Michele’s short scene (the whole production only lasts 23-minutes) is during Hayley’s unexpected visit to her dad’s house – although she does appear, complete with tongue*, in the closing scene. Hayley’s description of the appearance of Michele’s character as a “dining room… the towel on her head looked like wallpaper” is, perhaps, just a little biased. Michele is very beautiful – although Hayley was right about those earrings!

Credited as “Dad’s girlfriend”, it’s a little surprising that Michele’s character was given the name “Michele” in passing during the final discussion between Hayley and her dad. Was this a slip, I wonder?

It is impossible to comment on this film in relation to Michele’s much more challenging roles but as a curiosity piece it’s well worth a look.