Harmony, the Ceiling Cat

How will Deb Bellamy, a retired music teacher & pianist, learn to cope with the fact that she is powerless to coax her cat Harmony down from the basement ceiling—the cat’s new and preferred hiding place? Will phone calls to the local handyman and her adult children ease her anxiety? Perhaps a dramatic arboreal rescue may do the trick.

  • Deborah Vatcher
  • Deborah Vatcher
  • Deborah Vatcher
  • Deborah Vatcher
    Key Cast
    "Deb Bellamy"
  • Andrew Joslin
    Key Cast
    "as himself "
  • Julia Donahue
    Key Cast
  • Stephen Donahue
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 21 seconds
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Harvard Extension School, Harvard University
Director Biography - Deborah Vatcher

Deborah Vatcher made her first film at the age of 12, while enrolled in a summer arts program in the public schools of Rochester, NY. With ready access to Kodak super 8 cameras and film, she created a series of short films, enlisting her younger sisters as actors, and her parents as drivers. Now retired from her medical practice, she enrolled in a filmmaking course at the Harvard Extension School at Harvard University in the fall of 2021, and created this short film about “Harmony, the Ceiling Cat,” again with the generous assistance and support of her family.

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Director Statement

The film “Harmony, the Ceiling Cat” was born from a feeling. An uncomfortable feeling of powerlessness and lack of control, when my own cat, Fanny, decided to hide in the basement ceiling, and wouldn’t come out. I felt unsettled that day as I worried about her. I considered a variety of strategies to coax her down, or perhaps even prevent her from accessing the ceiling in the future. When faced with a problem, though, I’ve learned that it helps to stop and reflect on where the real difficulty lies. Does it reside principally in an overactive and catastrophic imagination? Or is the problem something more definite and real?

At the time of Fanny’s ceiling retreat, I was reading the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales as part of an online class at the Cambridge Center for adult education. I was also reading a book by the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim: "The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales," to enlarge my experience of the fairy tales, and used a quote from this book to begin my film. Before deciding on the ceiling cat problem as a screenplay, I had thought about adapting one of the Grimm Brothers’ stories for a short film. But Fanny’s retreat into the shadows of our basement ceiling, and my response to it, felt so much more intense and personal, that I thought I’d write it up and see where it led.

The main character in the film, Deb Bellamy, is boxed in with anxiety and her obsession about her shy and reclusive cat, leaving herself no room to move emotionally. She ruminates about the cat all day, and phones her adult children and the local handyman to discuss various “options” she’s considering—some of them a bit drastic! Bellamy’s sense of loss, though, goes well beyond the cat in the ceiling. With her children grown and out of the house, and her music career behind her, how will she fill her days? Will she find Harmony once again? And can Bellamy leave her emotional shadows behind to step into the light of harmonious engagement with herself and others? Perhaps the perspective of an arborist and professional cat rescuer, ninety feet above the ground, risking his life to save a cat stuck in a tree, may help her view these questions from a new perspective.