OAFF Filmmakers Keeping Busy in Quarantine
How some of OAFF’s past contributors are staying sane in uncertain times.
By Melanie Dahling
Filmmakers are used to living busy lives, especially the adventurous types that contribute to the stunning content at the Ottawa Adventure Film Festival. With a pandemic keeping everyone at home, how do thrill-seeking creatives keep that fire burning? Turns out a busy, “expect the unexpected” attitude in life can prepare you for anything- even having to sit still for a while.
Heather Mosher, a Squamish-based director and editor currently quarantined in Calgary, says her life as a freelancer helped her feel equipped for the sudden change of summer plans.
Heather Mosher on set for Blood on the Crack, 2018.
“I am just kind of used to being in a new place and setting up a new routine, and working from home is usually what I do so it didn’t feel that weird at first,” She says.
Mosher edited the film Killian in OAFF’s first year, and directed OAFF entries Blood on the Crack and River Runner in the years following.
For Mosher, this has been an opportunity to tie up loose ends and edit existing projects with less of the usual urgency that comes with a busy schedule.
Mosher is excited to sink her teeth into some footage from a “really wild” expedition to Baffin Island, filmed by the Canadian athletes who set out on the journey.
“It has been a luxury to have the time to dig into a story,” she says, “and polish it as needed without a deadline.”
A few hours south of Mosher, Dooster Film’s Ryan Scura finds himself with his in-laws in Sonora California. Though the days feel more similar than he’s used to- Scura has a little adventurer to keep a sense of spontaneity in the house.
“The easiest part is I have a 7-month-old son, so he definitely keeps me busy,” Scura says. “He’s crawling all over the place now and I’m just trying to keep up with him.”
Scura co-directed Coming Home with Dylan Ladds. The short documentary follows Ireland-born Paddy O’Leary returning home to take on the self-navigated Wicklow Round, a 115-kilometre run.
Paddy O’Leary in Coming Home. Photo by @doosterfilm
Coming Home has had a recent online release with companion piece The Lost Tribe of the Wicklow Mountains. Getting a response from online viewers has been an exciting way to re-discover the film after travelling to multiple festivals and hosting screenings in both San Fransisco and Ireland.
“In some ways it feels like people have already seen it when you do it like that, but it’s been really cool to release it online and hear from all these people who weren’t able to see the film at festivals or at the in-person screenings,” he says. “It’s cool to just share it much more broadly.”
Over at Rhode Island-based production company Gnarly Bay, director Dana Saint and team have taken this as an opportunity to reflect on past film projects. They used Sand in the Sky, featured in OAFF’s 2019 program (along with People of Water), as a jumping-off point for a behind-the-scenes film that features zoom interviews with cast and crew.
The original film stars Saint’s son Oliver (‘Ollie’) on vacation and subsequent interviews about his dreams. Saint says most people who watch the film see then 18-month-old Ollie as something of a “boy genius” without knowing how much goes into creating a narrative with a very small child.
A still from Sand in the Sky produced by Gnarly Bay.
“It was fun to have a chance to kind of peel back the curtain a little bit,” says Saint. “It was almost like a glimpse into the Wizard of Oz pulling the strings.”
Saint says he and his crew jumped on an action plan pretty quickly in terms of social distancing, and this BTS footage serves as something of a calling card. “We’re using it as a tool to pass around to different agencies and clients to show them we’re still working, we’re still editing, and this is a way that we can still tell stories,” he says.
In uncertain times, it can be frustrating to sit still and wait for answers. Knowing untold stories are waiting in the minds and hard drives of our favourite storytellers is a comforting thought in the chaos.
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