Screenwriter Carla Custance – Life After VIWIFF2016

VIWIFF WRITERS 2016

Official Selection Screenwriters and Jurists at VIWIFF2016

This year was the second season for the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival’s International Screenwriting Competition. Carla Custance impressed the jury with her feature screenplay, Resurrecting Jane Doe, and walked away from the festival with the top prize.

We caught up with Carla back home in Ottawa for a discussion on her writing process and what happens next for Carla and her award-winning screenplay.

Your script, Resurrecting Jane Doe won this year’s Screenplay Award at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival. What’s the story about and how did you decide that this was an idea you wanted to focus on?

The logline is “When a lonely mortician identifies a Jane Doe, he tells her family a tall tale about her to help them grieve and falls in love with her sister. Things get complicated when he uncovers Jane’s real story – if he can’t keep it under wraps, it’ll break their hearts and end the only real relationship he’s ever had.”

VIWIFF WRITERS CCUSTANCE

        Carla with her prize for Best Screenplay

I chose this story because it appealed to me thematically. I think that we all tell ourselves “stories’ so that we don’t have to face certain truths and this script allowed me to explore that.

What comes first to you in your process, the character or the story?

The character usually comes to me first. For Resurrecting Jane Doe, the idea for the main character came to me about a year before the story did.

How do you approach building the layers of your story?

I’m very structure oriented. I write numerous outlines, breaking the story into eight sequences or mini-movies and then layer in subplots that work towards the same theme. I use the outline as a starting point, but once I start writing script pages, I let the story take me where it wants to go. In my rewrites, I work with the various story elements until it feels right.

How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?

I find my ideas everywhere, as I go about my daily life. Often I’ll observe something or hear something that makes me ask, “What if?” Other times they come solely from my imagination. They often come in snippets.  A character, a setting, an obstacle, a statement I want to make. I write them all down in my “ideas” notebook and eventually when the right ones connect, I have my story.

What has this award meant for you?

Carla Custance

Carla is already working on a new screenplay.

I’m thrilled to have my work recognized by such an amazing festival. It gives me visibility and access to the industry that I didn’t have previously. Getting to spend a week with so many talented writers, directors and producers was inspiring. And it all happened the week that the National Film Board announced parity for women in film in Canada.

What has happened for the screenplay in the month since the festival? Have you been contacting production companies?

I’ve just started querying producers about the script. Interested parties can contact me via my website http://www.carlacustance.com

What are you planning to follow this script with? Do you have another script you’re working on?

I’m working on a new comedy screenplay, which will be finished this summer.

By Michelle Muldoon

Celebrating National Canadian Film Day with Genre Films!

NCFD_Leaderboard_1024x150As we gear up for National Canadian Film Day, we caught up with several representatives of Vancouver’s film talent: actor Ariel Hansen; directors Gigi Saul Guerrero and Jordan Barnes-Crouse; and producer Carolyn Williams to get their take on horror films, women protagonists and the special event itself.

Ariel Hansen

Ariel Hansen in full horror make-up

Ariel revealed that unlike performing in other genres, horror relies a great deal more on imaginary circumstances.
“ As a horror actor, you draw from parallels to life rather than from real life itself” she elaborates, and she enjoys this challenge. Carolyn also enjoys overcoming the obstacles of creating genre films. She explains “Indie horror films in particular offer the interesting challenge of balancing stories with complex visuals and practical effects while working with very limited budgets!” Gigi adds that “in horror its so important to have just enough budget for certain departments to make your horror film stand out, such as Make Up effects. Blood and Gore is crucial to be pulled off if your horror flick requires it”

While comedies and dramas get labeled as “ chick-flicks” when they have a female protagonists, horror films remain horror films, which is another reason Ariel enjoys her roles in terrifying stories. Jordan adds, “It’s important to see more female characters in general, and in atypical roles.

Making of ARMS

Making of ARMS (directed by Jordan Barnes-Crouse)

When you do see a female protagonist, they rarely deviate from social norms, or are often exaggerated for marketability. I’d like to see women depicted in more diverse professions, being capable and proactive rather than simply strong or resilient. Despite the outlandish nature of genre films, I think they’re stronger when the core characters and concepts are treated believably.”

And there are many Canadian genre films to be celebrated on National Canadian Film Day, including Fido and Pontypool (two of Ariel’s favourites). According to her, these two are vivid examples of great Canadian genre filmmaking that, sadly, all too often fly under the radar. National Canadian Film Day is excellent not only because it showcases our talents, but also because it “can showcase how little exposure Canadian films usually get. More people need to see Canadian films,” she concludes, and Jordan agrees, stating, “The flavour of Canadian cinema is really unique, but is sadly underappreciated within the country. This is mainly due to a lack of exhibition, so organizing screenings and giving people the chance to see the incredibly diverse talent we have is fantastic.”

Gigi has her plate full, with her successful short film “El Gigante [being] developed into a feature film”

Gigi_Directing

Gigi Saul Guerrero on set

She plans to begin filming later this year “or immediately in 2017”. Jordan and Carolyn are also working on a new film, Red Sanare, a “wilderness survival tale of sorts that wanders into cosmic horror”, while Ariel is slated to appear in another genre film – Valley of the Rats, directed by Vince D’Amato. This time, she’ll be taking on the role of a private investigator, a woman with strength and agency. Before we see her kick ass and take names in Valley of the Rats, check out Ariel’s performance in ARMS, a dark genre short that screens at NCFD, along with Madre de Dios and O NEGATIVE, presented by Shivers Film Society & Cinemafantastique and WIFTV

By Alina Koval

WIFTV announces #VIWIFF2016 Festival Awards

The exhilarating week that marked the 11th Annual Vancouver Int’l Women in Film Festival (#VIWIFF2016) kicked off with a bang on International Women’s Day, March 8. The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) chose our venue to announce its groundbreaking initiative that 50 per cent of future NFB productions will be directed by women.

The festival week that ensued featured a plethora of films created by women from all over world, and offered numerous opportunities for networking and professional development.

The festival came to a close on Sunday, March 13, with the annual awards gala. Continue reading

NFB Announces Gender Equality Initiative at #VIWIFF2016

Panel.JPG

From left: Sharon McGowan, Rina Fraticelli, Claude Joli-Coeur, Karen Day, Susan Brinton

Women in Film + Television Vancouver is proud to have provided the venue for the groundbreaking announcement by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in Vancouver on this International Women’s Day, March 8, 2016.

Coinciding with the start of the 11th Annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson Claude Joli-Coeur announced that at least half of its productions will be directed by women and half of all production spending will be allocated to films directed by women. Continue reading

When Giants Fall — A stunning status quo of ivory poaching across Africa

WGF_eyeA common view of the ivory poaching crisis is that it’s an old crisis. One that our parents had to worry about in the 1970s. Unfortunately, the resurgence of ivory poaching is very real, and more critical than it has ever been. Everyone has heard about blood diamonds, but how about blood ivory?

The problem is vast and complex, spanning many countries and cultures across the world. Elephants are dying by the hundreds every day, and so are people on both sides of the coin. It is an overwhelming topic to attempt to package in one feature documentary. Somehow, When Giants Fall, a documentary by journalist Leslie Griffith, manages to do just that. Continue reading

Norma’s Story – Animation Glimpses into Traditional Aboriginal Life – #VIWIFF2016

Normas story egg hill (1)The award-winning animated short film Norma’s Story runs under only five minutes, yet the message transcends time.

Director Alex Hawley takes the audience into a whimsical world that is part mid-century children’s book styling and traditional beadwork.  Continue reading

Close Up of the 2016 From Our Dark Side winners

Let’s have a closer look at the Top Five winning projects and their writers of #FromOurDarkSide’s second season, who were announced on February 29, 2016.

Ana de Lara, Victoria, BC — The Chosen One

Headshot, Ana, Director 2Ana de Lara is a Filipina-Canadian award-winning filmmaker who likes to explore a variety of genres.

The Chosen One is a feature film thriller about a Filipina-Canadian playwright who must stop dark forces that have been summoned by Filipino witchcraft from attacking her sanity.

“As a filmmaker it’s always been my intention to branch out from comedies and dramas,” says de Lara, who intends to direct her script. “I’m so thrilled for the opportunity to explore my dark side and to advance a script concept I’ve had for years.”

de Lara is also one of eight female Canadian directors selected for the 2016 Women in the Directors Chair Story & Leadership Program to develop her first feature film script: The Virgin Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Follow Ana de Lara on Twitter @anadelaraonline.

Elisabeth de Mariaffi, St. John’s, NL— Fly Girls

Elisabeth de Mariaffi_Elisabeth de Mariaffi is the Giller Prize-nominated author of one book of short stories, How To Get Along With Women and the literary thriller, The Devil You Know, which is currently in development with New Metric Media. Her poetry and short fiction have been widely published in magazines across Canada. Elisabeth now makes her home in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where she lives with the poet George Murray.

As a novelist and literary activist, Elisabeth de Mariaffi writes mostly about power. A self-professed ‘fraidy-cat, Elisabeth has nonetheless written one novel about serial killers and is now face and eyes into a new book — and it’s a ghost story.

In her thriller Fly Girls, flight attendant trainees trapped overnight on an island airport fight off a four-man crew of vampire pilots who arrive unexpectedly from Alaska.

“The idea for Fly Girls was planted when I did real-life overnight training for my own (short-lived) career as a flight attendant,” says de Mariaffi. “I’ve been dying to write a flight attendant vs. vampires movie ever since. Having spent the last few years working solely on fiction, I’m excited for the opportunity to develop a new story in what is for me, a totally new way — film.”

Follow Elisabeth de Mariaffi on Twitter @ElisabethdeM; Facebook as well as her website www.elisabethdemariaffi.com.

Gada Jane, Kitchener, ON — Video Star

Gada Jane - 15Gada Jane is a filmmaker and writer who specializes in conscientious sensationalism. Her films explore the rawness of bodies in a world of screens and social media. Jane’s most recent project is a short film about celebrity, death, and getting attention online called John Orpheus is Dead. The film was part of a multidisciplinary collaboration that includes an album, concerts, music videos and a jewellery line. With a masters degree in drama from the University of Guelph, she started her career as a theatre director and dramaturg developing scripts for production. Jane has since made music videos, short films and a touchscreen interactive tour of a Quantum Physics Lab. She is a writer equally proficient in the technologies of new media creation. From her home in Canada’s Tech Hub, Kitchener-Waterloo, she writes scripts for projects based all across Canada.

In her dystopian assassin story, Video Star, Aasha and her friends are lured into a deal that promises fame and fortune for murdering people for audience entertainment but ultimately threatens to destroy their friendship and their lives.

“I’m very excited for the chance to work with some of the amazing mentors assembled by WIFTV for From Our Dark Side,” says Jane, who intends do direct the film. “As I am just beginning work on my first feature, the support and guidance of these professionals could not come at a better time.”

Follow Gada Jane on Twitter at @gadajane, Instagram @gadajane and her website.

Jennifer Krukowski, Toronto, ON — Right Hand Rule

Jennifer KrukowskiJennifer Krukowski is a Toronto-based actor, writer, life model, and odd-jobber, with a particular interest in horror, dark comedy, and true crime. She was born in Ottawa, Ontario to a painter and a musician. Jennifer graduated from York University’s Theatre Studies Program in 2010 and became a full ACTRA member in 2013. An emerging screenwriter, Krukowski has recently begun to take sitcom writing classes, and is currently in pre-production as a producer and director on a true-crime documentary.

In Right Hand Rule, a gang of rebellious delivery girls plot to win back its newest member when she is recruited as a corporate secretary in this nostalgic action-comedy.

“They say that constraint breeds creativity. Having worked as an actor for nearly a decade, I sometimes feel helpless about the quality and quantity of roles available to female actors. Rather than letting my frustrations discourage me from continuing to pursue work in the film and television industry, I feel compelled to take a more proactive approach to affecting change by way of creating more female roles and role models as a screenwriter,” says Krukowski. “The From Our Dark Side contest is a unique and important opportunity for women in film and television to be heard, not in spite of our frustrations or quirks, but in celebration of them. Being recognized as a finalist has made it feel possible to take my writing to the next level. Writing can be a very solitary process, and getting a sense of support and community in the pursuit of professional development as a writer is enormously encouraging.”

Follow Jennifer Krukowski on Twitter & Instagram: @jenkrukowski.

Ashley Lynch, Burnaby, BC — Suicide Girl

Ashley Lynch - headshot 01Ashley Lynch is a writer, director and editor specializing in creating female-led genre stories. As an independent writer/director, she has worked on many short films. Lynch is also an experienced post-production professional and owner of Gingerbreadgirl Post, specializing in genre editing, colour grading and theatrical trailer campaigns. Her work has been seen on Telus Optik, Discovery Channel and A&E as well as many film festivals around the world. Her first feature film, Chloe Didn’t Come Home Last Night, is currently in development.

In Suicide Girl, the suicidal but unkillable Morrigan Nevaro is targeted by an opportunistic pharma CEO intent on harvesting her ability. She has to fight to protect her friends and prevent her curse from being mass produced.

“Winning the From Our Darkside mentorship is an incredible privilege and honour,” says Lynch, who intends to direct her action thriller. “My personal mandate is to tell genre stories of female heroes to inspire a new generation of young women. I call this .44 calibre feminism, or equal opportunity ass kicking. This mentorship will enable me to tell those stories and help to bring them to an audience.”

Follow Ashley Lynch on Twitter: @ashleylynch, on Facebook and on her website www.gingerbreadgirlpost.com.

 

From Our Dark Side Announces 2016 Winners

DarkSide-website_0000_headerWomen In Film + Television Vancouver’s (WIFTV) is delighted to announce the 2016 From Our Dark Side Genre Concept Competition and Mentorship winners!

The competition closed submissions on January 4th, 2016 with over 150 entries from across the country. Once again, women writers sent a powerful message that there is a large, untapped talent pool in Canada and a desire for more female-driven genre stories on our screens.

“We are very happy to be a part of this innovative initiative,” said Melissa Kajpust, Head of Creative Development for Super Channel. “We strongly support projects that advance the voices of women filmmakers in the industry and genre films are something we embrace on Super Channel, so this competition is a perfect fit.” Continue reading