China’s One Child Policy has created a big business for surrogate mothers. The practice of IVF and surrogacy is illegal in China, so American couples can earn upwards of $30,000 to carry to term the babies of Chinese couples. This is the subject of Henry Loevner’s short film Nest Egg.
Brittany (Brooke Trantor) and John (Dan Gill) are about to embark on their first foray into surrogacy. Well, at least Britney does. She just had a child, and nothing would bring her more joy than being pregnant and helping another couple. John, on the other hand, has serious personal reservations. From the beginning, Brittany and John are told by the surrogacy representative that the two must be on the same page if this is to happen.
When Britney and John meet their potential clients, John starts to panic. He makes excuses wondering what happens if they don’t pick up the child, or wonders if the $30K is a fair price. The more Britney is sure, the less confident John becomes, and the agency rep puts a halt to the proceeding until he gets his act together.
“She just had a child, and nothing would bring her more joy than being pregnant and helping another couple…”
While I find the whole surrogacy system fascinating and Nest Egg does an excellent job explaining it, the best part of the short is the way it bridges the divide through translations and translators. I’ve spent my life listening to long speeches twice—once in Chinese and then again in translated English. In the first meeting with Brittany and John and their potential clients, they communicate through a translator working for the agency. She doesn’t merely translate the conversation word for word, but she also explains why John is asking about their income levels and other personal information. It’s hilarious because John knows the translation is much longer than the question he asked.
The first translation session is hilarious, and the second is poignant when one of the clients finds John at his electronics store job and implore him to reconsider. She doesn’t bring a translator and they sweep through her smartphone translation app.
Loevner’s Nest Egg is a wonderfully produced, feel-good short.
Nest Egg (2019) Written and directed by Henry Loevner. Starring Dan Gill, Brooke Trantor, Anna Pan, Jaime Zhang, Joyce Lee. Nest Egg screened at the 2019 Palm Springs ShortFest.
8 out of 10 stars