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Jake Josefson - LAST UPDATED - 02-SEP-2002

Independent Feature Film - "Mate"

Character - "Herschel Heisen"

Film Synopsis:

Plot: Mate is the story of Herschel Heisen, an elevator man from Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Over the course of three years Herschel has developed a friendship of sorts with the tenant (Jay Getz) of the penthouse in his Upper West Side building. Herschel attempts to romantically involve his daughter Jillian (who despises him) with Jay. Once the relationship between Jay and Jillian is firmly established, Jay accidently runs into an estanged lover, Naomi Kraft. The story line follows Herschel's attempts to find out what exactly is happening between the three young people and the results once he does.

Technique: Although most of the action of "Mate" takes place between Jay, Jillian and Naomi, the story is viewed through Herschel eyes. It is through their interactions with him that the audience learns plot points and sees character development.

Character: Herschel Heisen

Herschel is the center of Mate. He is a second generation immigrant and life long Brooklyn resident. He is stubbornly set in his approach to life. He is in his late 50s and completed resigned to a life of inaction. His actions and words are slow, methodical, passive, and reactive. He rarely says more than a sentence at a time, often repeating what the person speaking to him has just said. He takes his time to process the words and information given to him and rarely if ever, says anything more than he has to. His speech is repressed and stunted.

Despite this passive exterior and appearance of stupidity, Herschel's mind is working quickly. While he struggles to communicate with the outside world, inside he is scheming and ploting. He is excellent at remembering dates and a master at chess. He attempts to play Cupid with Jillian and Jay because he hopes his child will move into the affluent class of which Jay is a part.

Herschel's life is uneventful. He spends his days in the elevator, crossing off dates on the calender. He spends his weekends fishing on 58th St pier and playing chess with Jay. However, Herschel's inability to communicate leads to dysfunctional relationship with his family. He and his wife Sarah were forced into marriage after a tryst in the elevator resulted in Jillian. Jillian despises him. Neither parent has shown her love, so as a result she is biting and abrassive. Jillian is embarassed by her family, as she is the first Heisen to obtain a college education. Herschel's son, Satch, named for his brother Satchel is the latest in a long line of soldiers in the Heisen family. Although Satch never appears, it is clear that he is the pride of the family. For her part Sarah is even more repressed than Herschel, speaking only when absolutely necessary. The two rarely look at each other. The marriage is loveless, almost spiteful.

Lastly, Herschel is murderer. Given the opportunity to make Jay's decision between Jillian and Naomi for him, Herschel kills Naomi. Despite his passive exterior Herschel has repressed the anger of a failed family, the constant condescention of his tenants, and the guilt of being the only man in his family not to join the armed forces into a hidden rage. Throughout the film Herschel will occasionally snap, such as when he slaughters a rat at the kitchen table, but most of his insanity is subtle and unspoken.

Herschel is therefore a combination of a sweet, but odd elevator man and vicious mad man.

MATE is being shot on-location in Brooklyn and vicinity. Brilliant Productions, producer of the film, is also located in Brooklyn.


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