There are so many wonderful advantages to shooting films in Atlantic Canada – gorgeous scenery (that’s a given), fewer permits (in comparison to Vancouver, anyway!), happy crew (who wouldn’t be over-the-moon while shooting a movie on a sun-kissed Prince Edward Island beach?), and an overall laid back east coast lifestyle.
In the last number of years, there’s been another reason to celebrate being a maritime filmmaker – Women Making Waves, the little Halifax conference that inspires and celebrates women working in the east coast screen industry.
I had the pleasure of attending this year – I cruised across the Confederation Bridge in my little white Rav (aka Ravvie), made the requisite stop at Masstown Market for blueberry scones and Nanaimo bars, and hit the big city (I’m from P.E.I. – every city’s a big city) of Halifax around noon.
I squeezed a few meetings in before the official conference began at 6:30. In the first, I had the great pleasure of finally meeting my email bud, Publicist Renee Horton, who is as delightful and entertaining as she is passionately professional. Fun Fact – Renee once worked for CTV, which meant she got to do PR for Canadian Idol. Fun job!
Telefilm was next – I’d previously spoken with Lori McCurdy on the phone but this was the first time I met her in person. I instantly felt bad for probably shocking her when I shook her hand, because I’d walked down the hill to her office and so my hands were frigid blocks of ice, but she recovered well, lol. I found Lori to be attentive and patient throughout our lengthy discussion about the vagaries of first time feature filmmaking that’s based on a small island with no real industry to speak of (yet). She was open-minded and kind, and I very much enjoyed our frank discussion and hope this is the beginning of a solid friendship punctuated by oodles of wonderful island-based films.
Highlights of the conference – Sadaf Foroughi, a brave filmmaker whose film was set in Iran, opened up the conference with a Q & A after her screening of her award-winning movie, Ava. It’s always a thrill to hear the behind-the-scenes stories, and in her case I felt she was particularly gutsy to shoot a film that featured a female protagonist in a country where women are not held in high esteem. Sadly. Through her provocative film, Sadaf is helping change that 🙂
On Saturday, Tracey Deer, creator and director of the APTN series Mohawk Girls, was entertaining and fun – she shared her birthday with us! How awesome is she! I decided I want to BE her – she’s cute and perky and happy and irreverent and smart and, well, everything I want to be. Oh, let’s add talented and successful in there too. Mohawk Girls ran for five full seasons! She’s living every female Canadian Director’s dream. Way to go, girl! Thanks for setting the bar and showing us gals what we are all capable of!
Saturday afternoon I attended a session called ‘From Indie to Netflix,’ featuring Mars Horodyski, Director of the $ 25 000 film Ben’s At Home. Her story was enticing, but she admitted having called in a lot of favours to get that movie made for such a wee, tiny little budget. I appreciated her honesty in admitting the mistakes she made during filming, and I was wiping tears of hilarity from my eyes during one of the scenes she shared with the group – let me just say Fooz Ball. Hilarious. (I would cast those two actors). Microbudget filmmaking is not for everyone, so I truly admire Mars for her tenacity and grit.
In true P.E.I. style, a few of us hardy islanders closed out the conference with a little vino at 902 Post on Spring Garden Road. The after party was perfect for cementing relationships formed during the conference. I particularly enjoyed my chat with the owner, Colourist Doug Woods, who assured me that he can make ocean water look the same colour as swimming pool water. Lol. (And phew!)
Although I was sad to say goodbye to new friends, I was over the moon with all of my new takeaways from Women Making Waves 2018 (and I’m not talking about the strawberry-rhubarb pie I picked up at Masstown Market in Truro on the way home). In particular, I have to say it was a blast just reconnecting with my island filmmaking friends, who I rarely see since I’m a renegade Summersider, and most of them hang out in super cool Charlottetown.
Speaking of which, hats off to newly rebranded FilmPEI Pres Emma Fugate (below) for giving island filmmakers a rousing thumbs up at the noon luncheon on Saturday.
We’re on the way, P.E.I. I can almost see the finish line now…!
See you next year, Women Making Waves. In the meantime, I’ve got a few waves I intend to make of my own…
- Susan 🙂
(Note: Panel photo above this post features (L to R) Producers Ann Bernier, Katrina Walsh, Terry Greenlaw, Mary Sexton, and Donna Davies)