Stella For Star — Director Nick Singer tells how furries shed magic on his short film.
by Patch O'Furr
Stella For Star is a sensitive slice-of-life drama just 11 minutes long, with a sweet dose of furry magic.
Marcy is a scientist visiting New Orleans for a conference for nuclear fusion energy (a Fusion Con). She relies on child care help for her two young kids on the trip. Her responsibilities keep her on the clock, but she manages to steal a moment of self-care with costumed strangers at the hotel for their own convention. Her work predicts hope for the future, but there’s trouble brewing for everyone with Hurricane Stella on the horizon.
The hint of sci-fi make the furries like “aliens” coming to Marcy’s world, bearing a gift of whimsy. In the upscale hotel setting, the famous Blue Dog art of New Orleans catches the eye. The city’s fraught history stays offstage but maybe it would show up if this was a feature length movie. There’s talent for one here in the nice cinematography, and bang-for-the-buck performance by Emmy-nominated Robin Weigert. The director has an indie feature under his belt.
Any film with furries made outside the fandom makes me ask — does it use real fursuits? Or can a strong story outshine ordinary costumes?
Director Nick Singer answered my curious email after I saw a review in Film Threat.
Hey Patch! Thanks so much for reaching out! I’d be delighted for the film to be included on your site. And I’m very happy to hear that the film connected with you. I’m going to write a bit about the film in relation to furries.
My producers actually spent a lot of time reaching out to folks in the furry community in and around NOLA to try to get them to appear in the film. Understandably, the ones they spoke to were skittish about collaborating. They were weary of the harmful, biased ways that furries have so often been portrayed in media. Understandable! We sent them the script, and tried to communicate that our film has a tender eye for the community. As the days towards production came closer and closer, we couldn’t really get anyone to commit, so we decided to just purchase the costumes ourselves. Yes, it’s a real bummer. I am in awe of the creativity in the fursuits and fursonas. They’re beautiful — and I know for anyone in the community, the outfits in the film look strangely manufactured and impersonal. But we had to do what we had to do.
I’ve been intrigued by furries for a long time, I think ever since I first heard about them — I don’t know when. The costumes are fantastic, and the way that people in the community describe feeling so free when in character is just wonderful. I certainly empathize with the desire to break from the constraints of personality and history, or at least to play with that kind of expression.
During my time in college, a professor of mine told me he had an experience like the one that Marcy has in the film — at a conference of film scholars, there was a furry con at the same hotel. He said the scholars didn’t really interact with the furries besides saying hello in the elevators, but the story always stayed with me. It didn’t seem like too much of a jump to imagine everyone hanging out together. (I also was thinking of Computer Chess, another movie where there is some delightful cross-conference interaction.)
As we were developing Stella for Star, which started with nuclear fusion and the climate crisis, I mentioned my professor’s story to my co-writer, Ben, and he fell in love with it. We started to realize how much the struggle of the life of the furry rhymed with the story we were trying to tell about our scientist’s flagging belief in her work, and then rhymed again with her son’s belief in the tooth fairy. It all felt of one piece.
– Nick Singer
After we talked, COVID-19 hit the US. Nick is in New York where it has a huge impact, so it would be interesting to ask how getting through the pandemic is like expecting the hurricane in his film. The strong female role of scientist/mom would be a good subject for another time too. Thanks to Nick for taking the time.
That was pretty good. Kinda weird but sweet that they got a wolf fursuiter to pretend to be the tooth fairy.
— Gamepopper (@gamepopper) March 12, 2020
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Thank you Patch for the interesting article, but then all your articles have been interesting to read. I’m really glad I subscribed to your email newsletter.
What a cool short movie, it left me really wanting more. I want to see and hear the rest of the story! Does Stella continue her interactions with the furries, do they survive the hurricane, and just what is up with that Au pair!? Seriously, is she high or something!?
I hope one day he is able to develop this into a feature length movie, I’d go see it, and not just because of the furries in it either!
I won’t mind if it’s a standalone short and he works on other projects, because this is a nice glimpse at a world like a good short story. But if he ever does anything else with furries I’m totally there for it 🙂