What would you do when the world ends? In the short film Let’s Not Panic, a neurotic and anxious woman finally gathers up the courage to tell her handsome therapist how she really feels.
Created by director Heather Jack, the film gives the post-apocalyptic genre a romantic comedy twist. The plot takes us on a lighthearted journey from Brooklyn to Manhattan, following the romantic aspirations of a therapy patient.
We recently talked to Heather Jack to find out more about the film.
Where did you get the idea for Let’s Not Panic? What was the inspiration behind it?
“I was living in New York during Hurricane Sandy, and when the power went out, our neighborhood was evacuated. I walked across the Williamsburg Bridge to stay with a friend, but forgot something at my place, so returned to the Lower East Side the next day while the power was still out.
“I was shocked by how in the span of 24 hours the neighborhood had completely shut down and descended into a wasteland, abandoned and desolate except for a vagrant freely smoking crack in the street where maybe the day before a guy in a fedora was selling artisan beignets.
“The contrast struck me as very funny and I thought it would make a good setting for a neurotic New Yorker to be confronted with large-scale disaster. I’m also a big proponent of therapy.”
What was your creative process while you were writing the script?
“The writing process was definitely iterative – I wrote several drafts, got feedback, and rewrote. The whole revision process was very important, because the finished script was pretty different than the first draft, and ultimately made a better film. I find it difficult to be objective about my own work, so I was fortunate to get feedback from people whose taste I really trust, as well as the support of faculty at NYU.”
Most post-apocalyptic films look and feel depressing. What made you want to do a rom-com?
“There have been a lot of post-apocalyptic films, many of which take themselves pretty seriously. I totally appreciate those films, but when something takes itself very seriously, it also makes good fodder for comedy.
“Let’s Not Panic is kind of a pre-apocalyptic rom-com, and it’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek and self-referential and plays with a lot of those tropes. I also really like the contrast between big existential ideas with the smaller stuff we all get preoccupied with in our daily lives, and just because widespread destruction is imminent doesn’t mean the character’s all-consuming crush on her therapist goes away.”
What does the film try to tell its viewers? What’s the underlying message behind all the jokes?
“I’d say that besides endeavoring to be a fun and adventuresome romp, Let’s Not Panic also explores insecurity and self-acceptance. Our neurotic main character begins as fearful and unsure of herself, and fixates on her stoic therapist because she’s only been presented with one idealized facet of him. Through her journey, she kind of sees another perspective and gains insight into her own potential.
“I think it’s easy for many of us to idealize others while being hard on ourselves for our own flaws, when really no one is perfect and ultimately those imperfections are what make us interesting and human.”
Lastly, what are you working on next?
“I just moved back to LA after living in New York for the last several years, focused on writing and directing more comedy. Currently writing a TV pilot based on my experiences as a producer of low-budget branded and ‘viral’ internet videos, and developing my first feature.”
You can find out more about Heather Jack and her work here.