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Sara St. Onge: Writer/Director, MOLLY MAXWELL

February 21, 2013

molly1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of MOLLY MAXWELL, from concept to financing.

MOLLY is loosely inspired by my own experiences at a high school for the “arts and humanities”. I wrote it because I remembered how thoroughly I related to My So-Called Life when I first saw it. It was the only time I’d ever seen anything that resembled my experiences or relationships (other than Twin Peaks of course) and it blew my mind. I wanted to put something out into the world that showed a different kind of high school experience from the one portrayed in mainstream media and I didn’t want to condescend to my characters. The script went through many versions mostly because I had no idea what I was doing. I met Mark Van de Ven in 2008, who became my story editor and later my producer, and he really helped me to shape it and figure out how to preserve the tone and quality of humour that I wanted. John Nadalin and Aeschylus Poulos joined the producing team with their respective expertise to fill in the gaps of knowledge. Once we had a draft we thought represented what I was trying to do, we approached Canadian Film Centre Features, which is a great program here for launching first-time directors. They have been incredible supporters of us and the film along the way. We were very fortunate to get all our financing and even distribution through them from a deal that they’ve established with The Movie Network, Movie Central and eOne.

2Q: It appears that the film has been screened at other festivals. Do audiences respond differently at some festivals than they do at others? And do you ever stop being nervous?

One of the cool things about MOLLY has been watching it with very different audiences. Our premiere was at Palm Springs, which is quite an older crowd, and we just screened at Toronto International Film Festival’s teen-programmed off-shoot, Next Wave. So basically we went straight from an audience of 60+ year olds to 16 year olds. What was awesome about it and really encouraging was that both audiences loved the film and related to it for different reasons. And no, it doesn’t seem that I’ll ever stop being nervous. I hate speaking in front of people, so the intros and the Q&A’s turn me into a wreck. Luckily, our co-lead Charlie Carrick will be representing at Cinequest 🙂

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making MOLLY MAXWELL?

One of the best experiences was shooting the scenes where Ben and Molly go to take photos on Toronto Island. The weather forecast was terrible and we thought it was going to be a disaster, but we rolled the dice and it ended up being just a magical kind of Spring day. It was right in the middle of our very tight, very unmerciful shooting schedule, but this day was pretty unstructured. We took the ferry over and just wandered around with a skeletal crew to the areas that I knew I wanted to shoot, but it was leisurely compared to what we’d been having to get out of our other days. The sun was warm and everyone was in great moods, it was energy-giving and helped us to rally together for the rest of the shoot.

4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?

It’s challenging, honest, funny and life-affirming.

5Q: There are now so many different ways in which to distribute a film; each has pros and cons. What are your hopes or plans for future distribution?

Because of our deal with the Canadian Film Centre, we had eOne on board as distributor from the beginning. The film will have a limited theatrical release in Canada. Hopefully the film will find an international following online eventually. I know I’ve seen a lot of great indie films that way, such as Weekend and Turn Me On, Dammit.

Watch the trailer!

Buy tickets to see MOLLY MAXWELL at Cinequest!

From → Interviews

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