I have always loved to showcase the power of talented women working behind the camera in different capacities, because as an outsider looking in, it feels like the world of film is still a male drive and oriented world. In your personal opinion, do you find that their are more unfair obstacles thrown your way just because you are a woman?

Well filmmaking has enough obstacles to go around for everyone! But for sure – despite all the growing awareness and affirmative-action type policies around gender parity – filmmaking is still very much a male-dominated field. You only have to look at how skewed female representation still is both in front of and behind the camera to figure that odds are good my gender has presented extra obstacles along the way. But I actually direct advertising occasionally and have noticed a slight uptick in how many more women are getting gigs in that world. Historically, male – and even female – advertising creatives preferred to work with a male director – and in many cases it was an unconscious bias. But that became such a catch-22 for women because, right or wrong, decision-makers are still less inclined to give a woman without much experience a shot at the same thing they think a similarly inexperienced guy can handle – just because he’s a guy. And so then how is that woman going to get experience in the first place? So yes maybe I’d be more successful, more prolific, and I know I’d definitely be better-paid in this business if I were a man. But, I’ve also probably stretched and created opportunities for myself and been lucky along the way, so I know it could have been worse. Still, things need to change on a broad scale. And they are. Slowly but surely. And I love what I’m hearing about projects like this film Band Aid, a cool, smart romantic comedy written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones and produced with a 100% female crew. At least all those women are going to have that experience going up for the next opportunity!

As somebody who is obsessed with just about all things Kerouac, I am also very intrigued by your project, A Nutshell of Infinite Space. So I am compelled to ask sort of the same question, where did this truly unique idea for a film come from? Are you also a fan of the Beat generation?

This project is my screen adaptation of the play, Michel and ‘Ti-Jean written by George Rideout – a Texas-born, Québecois transplant who now teaches literature in a university here. As an American male coming of age in the late 50’s, he loved Kerouac, wrote his thesis on Kerouac and then when he came to Canada as a young man, he discovered the deep Québécois, francophone roots of Kerouac. George’s play throws Kerouac and Michel Tremblay (a Québecois French language literary icon) together in a fictitious meeting that highlights the surprising similarities of these two great writers, one at the end of his career, the other at the beginning. One who had stayed in Québec his whole life, the other who had buried it for almost as long. To be honest though, I was only remotely familiar with the Beat generation when I first took on the project. But George’s play gave me a unique window into that era through the jaundiced eyes of Kerouac at the end of his life. And my related research filled in the rest. While I can’t say I’m a Beat geek or anything now, I can definitely say I am a more educated and appreciative consumer.

I noticed a common trait between the stories of Dolly and Nutshell, where you almost seem to have Canada and The U.S. playing characters that are aiding an antagonist in a search for their own identity in a way. Is this a deliberate method? Or am I possibly stretching it a bit too far?

No you are not stretching it too far – this is my most favourite question yet! I am thrilled you picked up on that. Although I think you probably meant “protagonist” when you wrote “antagonist”[Editor’s Note: Tara was exactly right. I just messed that up pretty bad], but yes by all means, identity is a recurring theme here on both the personal and the societal levels. Until quite recently, our national “identity” as Canadians has been a slippery concept. For the longest time, what it meant to be Canadian was all too often defined in terms of what we were not – i.e. American. But conversely (and a bit perversely) our greatest Canadian success stories were the ones where people “made it” in the US. So we have such an ambivalent and complex relationship with the U.S. that at once nourishes our identity and undermines it. So I guess the fact that my protagonists in both films have a bit of a hero-worship thing going on in that they figure they’re going to find the fulfillment or validation they’re seeking once they meet this hero (Dolly in one case, Kerouac in the other) and that both these heroes’ identities are so closely tied to iconic U.S. characteristics is me playing with that longstanding relationship.

What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to tell our readers about?

I actually just finished a very special short film project – it was made with the National Film Board, which is an institution that loomed large in my childhood and in the Canadian cultural identity at large. Anyway, the short is an homage to one of Quebec’s iconic filmmakers who just received a Governor General’s lifetime achievement award – our country’s highest honour in the arts. It’s originally in French but its English title is, For the Love of the Fight. Although I often work in French when I do advertising, this was my first original, creative work in French. And it was a great privilege to be able to do it – both with the Film Board, and in honour of such an important figure in Quebec cinema history. For me – an English-speaking outsider – the whole experience was definitely a bit of a stepping stone toward better integrating into the French-language filmmaking community here. Especially because the French-language side of Quebec cinema is such a rich, and thriving community with strong, distinct influences and recently some really remarkable exports (aha, here comes that old Canada-US ambivalence and contradiction). With homegrown filmmakers like Denis Villeneuve and Jean-Marc Vallée making their very distinct marks on Hollywood and beyond, it’s an exciting and vibrant time to be coming up in the very place where they found their voices. So when I got the news a few weeks ago that we received financing to develop my first feature-length film in French, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. It’s called, Accommodements raisonnables and will be coming soon to an art-house cinema near you :)!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Finally being able to send you my complete answers to your very thoughtful questions! Thank you for asking them, Ron and for taking the time to look at and reflect on my work. It’s been a real pleasure to get to “talk” with you and be part of the Trainwreckd Society.