The Hippo


Jul 21, 2019








Rachel Kerbs plays Sarah in Blessid. Courtesy photo.

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Feeling Blessid
Derry director takes on Massachusetts-based indie

By Kelly Sennott

 Derry director Rob Fitz is no stranger to the film world.

He’s been in the business for 17 years and worked as a makeup artist for big-name productions like American Hustle, Labor Day, The Fighter and Ted. In 2010, he directed a film called God of Vampires, a low-budget horror that’s now being released internationally. Along with these projects — now 47 total — he’s made countless connections and well-established friends in the industry.
And so Massachusetts newbie screenwriter/producer Bob Heske was quite happy when Fitz agreed to direct Heske’s film, Blessid, a indie drama about a depressed pregnant woman with a cursed past who forms a bond with an immortal man. The small cast and crew spent about two weeks filming Blessid in Shrewsbury, Mass., last fall, and the crew is currently in post-production with the final edits. 
“It’s interesting, because when you’re a makeup artist in a film, you’re really just kind of this gear in the machine. … Whereas if I’m not there as the director, the production will fall apart. Now, all of a sudden, you’re steering the ship. It’s a very different dynamic,” Fitz said. “But it’s good to have worked on so many movies. You have the perspective of the crew member, too.”
Blessid is a film Fitz jokingly said he’d “never rent” — he usually leans to action and horror flicks — yet there was something about the script he couldn’t put down. 
“I’m an effects guy. I love horror movies, but this is a drama. This has supernatural elements, but normally, it’s not my kind of thing,” Fitz said. “But at a certain point, when the characters reveal themselves to what they really are, then it gets interesting.”
The film follows a woman named Sarah Duncliffe (played by Rachel Kerbs) who is battling suicidal thoughts and disturbing hallucinations of her deceased sister who, years ago, fell victim to a childhood accident. Sarah lives a very unhappy life; her ex-boyfriend is stalking her and she’s stuck in an empty, banal marriage. Her life takes a turn, though, when she meets her new neighbor who harbors a secret: he’s immortal.
“The film is about this woman who needs to find forgiveness in herself to continue to live her life. … This theme spoke to me, because I’ve known a lot of people who have been in despair,” Fitz said.
Blessid might never had happened, Heske said, were it not for Fitz’s connections, and felt thankful Fitz saw something in this script he’d felt so passionate for. One of those connections led to Kerbs.
“I love the character of Sarah,” Kerbs said in an email. “She was a challenge that intrigued me right off the bat.”
Heske had written a few other short- and feature-length scripts, but he was tired of waiting to be discovered and decided to take the film into his own hands last year. A kickstarter campaign, some donations and a good portion of Heske’s own money went into the making of Blessid.
It’s terrifying, Heske said, producing a film with your own money, but at 50, he felt the time ticking. At the writing of the film, his mother was about to pass away, and he thought to himself, ‘This could be me 20 years from now.’
“Life is full of regrets if you don’t do something. So I went out and made a movie,” Heske said. “It’s intimidating, like jumping out of a plane, but if you have a good parachute, if you surround yourself with good people, it’ll give you a soft landing.”
When the crew is through with editing, there will be a public screening in Shrewsbury come summertime. Until then, the crew will be working to get Blessid into the film festival circuit. 
As seen in the February 13, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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