Dr. Steeve Coupeau Goes One‐on‐One with Katherine Waddell, Producer of “Balloon Animal”
NYIHA MEDIA: What is the significance of the film’s title?
Producer Waddell: Originally, we had called the movie “Balloon Animal’s” ‐ plural ‐ just because we needed a placeholder for the title as we wrote it. We simply had the original visual of a girl with blue hair who made balloon animals, so that felt perfect for us at the time. As we got further into the writing process, it just felt more and more like it should be our title.
The director and writer, Em Johnson, eventually brought up the idea of making it singular, “Balloon Animal,” to reflect Poppy’s solo journey on discovering herself and branching out to do what she thinks is best for herself. Balloon animals are also a perfect symbol for the film and Poppy’s journey something that is twisted over and over into what we want, sometimes to the point of popping or breaking.
NYIHA MEDIA: Can you describe the process that led to the selection of the cast?
Producer Waddell: We had such a blast selecting this cast! We were able to work with a fantastic casting director, Adrienne Stern, who sifted through hundreds of auditions for us before landing on a couple of dozen for us to review. For every lead and supporting character, we knew almost instantly they were going to be cast. Each person had such a distinct presence and understanding of the characters. They really brought the characters alive during the audition process. Rehearsals and filming were a breeze because of how well everyone was prepared. Really, everyone just brought great energy to the film!
NYIHA MEDIA: What excited you most about this project? What fascinates you about traveling circuses and magic shows?
Producer Waddell: I am honestly just happy about what this film means for us as indie filmmakers. When you think about all that goes into a film, there’s so much work to do, from beginning to end. We are beyond lucky that we were able to get funding during the pandemic, film without anyone getting Covid-19, and launch ourselves into the indie‐sphere with our female‐led company. So, for us, we have completed many milestones in our careers with Balloon Animal.
I think everyone pretty much loves the circus and magic shows! We have all grown up with it being so glitzy and full of wanderlust and possibility. The circus, and circus life, is very romantic in nature. So that’s why we loved the idea of turning it on its head and framing it in a different light.
NYIHA MEDIA: I know the film received an award at the Brooklyn film festival. How is the film being received in the national film circuit?
Producer Waddell: We are proud to say that we have been accepted into over 10 film festivals, some still unannounced, and have won 6 awards so far. It is honestly a dream come true to be able to have your work and art out in the world and be received so well. We don’t take any festival or award for granted, and we always want to be cognizant to say that a win for Balloon Animal is a win for everyone who worked on the film.
We had such an amazing team come together at an impossible time during the pandemic, and we appreciate everyone’s hard work. We are excited to announce what’s next for the film with distribution soon!
P.S.: Katherine Waddell is a multi‐talented actor and producer. She is most known for her work as an actor and co‐executive producer on acclaimed indie feature Dinner in America, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival. Recently, Katherine completed the feature Balloon Animal, for which she performs as lead character Poppy in this coming‐of‐age film featuring a girl who makes balloon animals at a traveling circus, which was shot entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic.