A Star is Born – Introducing Emily Corcoran as SADIE

Today is a special day for us. It’s the world premiere of SADIE (LSPU Hall @ 7pm)! We are proud to have this meaningful day at home, as part of SJIWFF’s 25th Anniversary. Tonight, we introduce Emily Corcoran who portrays Sadie, one of our lead characters. We held auditions for several days in hopes of finding a teenage girl who had a timeless quality, and also the skill to work on an emotionally charged piece. When Emily auditioned and began to reveal her take on Sadie, she was captivating, and the sincerity in her face and eyes were tell tale signs of acting potential. She was also intelligent, with dedicated work ethic. She makes her film debut in this piece, and we are pretty PUMPED to be part of her growth.  Here’s what she had to say about her experience on set (get ready for answers wise beyond her years!):

How did you hear about SADIE and tell us why you auditioned for the part?

I first heard about Sadie through “Casting By Maggie”, a local casting company run by Maggie Keiley. When I read the synopsis, I was immediately intrigued by Sadie’s character. I loved the idea of getting to play someone who experienced emotional trauma, which deeply affected their personality. The entire story seemed so interesting, so I contacted you for an audition right away.

iPhone snapshots of Emily on audition day.

iPhone snapshots of Emily on audition day.

When you got the part, describe what you thought and how you felt, especially when you found out you’d be co-starring with professional actors like Joanne Kelly and Des Walsh.

I can’t even begin to explain how ecstatic I was! I remember sitting at my kitchen table and being unable to stop smiling, I couldn’t believe it. When I found out who I would be working with, I simultaneously felt extremely excited and nervous, both Joanne and Des are high caliber actors and the fact that I was being given the opportunity to work with them was mind blowing. And of course, when it came time to film, I was left speechless by their talent. Joanne is able to convey so much emotion in her eyes and adds so much depth to her character – it is astounding. And Des works with so much ease that he makes you feel at home when filming, not to mention his acting is simply brilliant.

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Emily Corcoran as Sadie, Des Walsh as Mr. Snow (photo by Duncan De Young)

Sadie has quite an opposite and more insular personality than yours (which is delightfully open and warm). How did you prepare for the role?

 She definitely is an interesting girl. Sadie, for me, was a welcome, and beautifully complex, challenge. She is a character that sinks into very dark places and as an actress, while preparing to film, my main goal was to understand the way her mind works. I spent a lot of time dissecting her character so I would be able to adapt to her thought process. I also researched the way people, living in isolation, dealt with problems in the 1940s. I feel that ultimately these things helped me portray Sadie to the best of my ability.

Emily Corcoran and Joanne Kelly, the lead actors in Sadie

Emily Corcoran and Joanne Kelly, the lead actors in Sadie (photo by Duncan De Young)

 What was your most favourite or special moment on set? And why?

It’s hard to pick just one – the entire experience was so amazing! One thing that does come to mind however, was the very first scene we shot. I remember being so nervous in the car ride that morning, worried that I would screw up and make a fool of myself, or make you all regret the decision to cast me. However, as soon as I got in position, and Joanne made a comment on how much fun we were going to have, I completely forgot about all those things and I just let myself get lost in doing the thing I love; acting. I remember thinking that morning, “if I could do this for the rest of my life I would be perfectly happy.”

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Close up of Emily, Joanne Kelly in foreground (photo by Duncan De Young)

How has the film help you grow as an actor, and how will you move forward with your career?

It has helped me in so many ways. For starters, Sadie was a role that required more preparation than any character I have ever worked on before. It has really changed the way that I take on roles. The biggest way Sadie has helped me as an actress, however, was the access to professional cast and crew. Everyone who worked on this film was amazing and willing to give advice at any time. People were constantly telling me how they got into the business and giving me pointers on how I could continue my career. Joanne even helped me pick out monologues for future auditions. I’m grateful to everyone who took the time to talk to me because they made me see that this is something I really can pursue. Also, one of the many perks of working with such a great crew, is that everyone in town who is involved in film, knows about it. Every time I go in for an audition now people always say “oh you were in Sadie! I’ve heard all about it!” which, is pretty cool. In fact, having worked on Sadie was a big factor in me getting a role that I did this past summer.


Night time shot on set (photo by Duncan De Young)

Do you want to say anything about the film/experience we haven’t asked you?

Yes, I wanted to take a minute to say thank you to you three. I can’t begin to convey how grateful I am for giving me the opportunity to work on this film. I’m sure that you took a risk in choosing a newcomer and I hope I didn’t let you down. You were all so sweet and made my first time working on film comfortable, and full of fun. Working on Sadie has been wonderful for me, you gave me a taste of a world that I have a strong passion for, and  I can’t thank you enough.

the girls of Sadie

(L-R) Latonia Hartery (Director), Emily Corcoran (Sadie), Emily Bridger (writer), Deanne Foley (Producer) at SJIWFF opening night (photo copyright SJIWFF)


Post by Latonia, Emily, and Deanne


Quelle Affaire – A Must See at SJIWFF!


Ruth Lawrence

Hello again all, for this post we catch up with NL’s First Lady of the Arts, Ruth Lawrence, who has a film in the SJIWFF. Her film, QUELLE AFFAIRE,  plays Friday night, October 17th, at 7pm – the same night as SADIE. What’s this First Lady business you ask? It’s not really a term here, I just made it up for Ruth and refer to her as this often since she is a writer, director, producer, actor, AND singer. She also works on many community projects that makes the arts scene all the more richer here in St. John’s, and island-wide. She also volunteers her time  in a healthy capacity.  But don’t take my word for it, maybe take the Queen’s, since Ruth was awarded the 2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal last year, for her contributions to the culture of Newfoundland and Labrador. Her 3 minute short has an air of whimsy and a dream like quality, I asked her some questions about this little gem, here’s what she said:

How did you get the idea for Quelle Affaire?

I saw some beautiful cinepoetry pieces at the AFF in Halifax and found out that it was a project of AFCOOP to pair poetscardiogram with filmmakers.  So with the Nickel’s support, I applied to the Telus Fund. The idea was to make films from poems using mobile and digital technology.  I was really excited about the possibility of shooting with an iPhone. Part of my proposal was that, if we were successful in getting the grant, I would get to be the filmmaker but they could choose who to pair me with in the jury selections.  They chose Danielle Devereaux.  I was familiar with her work, we knew each other and we turned out to be great partners.  So once we were paired, she gave me her chapbook, Cardiogram; a gorgeous collection in every way.  I played around with a couple of poems but kept getting drawn back to the shortest one in the book.  It was so evocative with visual imagery, I couldn’t resist it.  Finally, I broached her with my choice and told her why I chose it for this process.  She agreed and came along for the whole ride.

In terms of the story idea for the poem, I loved the gut-wrenching aspects of the affair and the inner conflict/digesting of those feelings and it really appealed to me to have some fun while also making a poetic statement about the nature of love affairs.

Who are your main actors?
I was so fortunate to have Stephen Dunn and Meghan Greeley in my film.  They are close friends and are so easy with each other, easy to watch. They were both home for Christmas last year so I scheduled the shoot around that and we got lucky!  I was really pleased to have you, Latonia, make a special sneak appearance! It was so quick you’ve probably forgotten about it.


Lead Actors Stephen Dunn and Meghan Greeley on set of QA

You used minimal equipment and lighting for your film, but it still looks dreamy!  Tell us more about how you accomplished that.

We used ONLY an iPhone 5 to shoot the film because that was the challenge I set for myself.  I worked with Brad Gover, who shot it for me.  Danielle offered us her & Chris’ gorgeous house as our location so we scouted to make sure the light, if we had a nice day, could work. We set the cafe up in her living room.  Brad brought along some lights but we didn’t need to use them, we didn’t even use a tripod.  We shot it silent and we recorded the V/O in Justin Davis’ upstart radio station, KEEP.  We may have used a bounce board for the light but yes, it was incredibly simple.  Brad worked really well with Mother Nature.

It was great to have Stephen on set as an actor because he did double-duty. As we were setting up the shots, I’d say “let’s get the lace pattern on that paper” and as we were setting the shot, Stephen (who is best known as a filmmaker) would be playing around with the angles to get the best reflection for us!  It was important to have a handful of keen and knowledgeable people around us that day.

Director Ruth Lawrence, Cinematographer Brad Gover, and Actors.

Director Ruth Lawrence and Cinematographer Brad Gover, shooting a scene on an iPhone

Perhaps I should also divulge that we shot this film on January 6, the day after #DarkNL, the day after Brad & I finished a web-series that we shot through those storms and power outages.  So this one was a breeze! (We did have to charge the phone at one point.) It took about 4 hours to set up and shoot, it was winter so it was all shot in mid-afternoon sunlight and that made it so beautiful.  There was too much snow outside from the storm, so we shot only Meghan’s close ups and then for the travelling shots, I subbed in for her a couple of weeks later while Brad shot from the car, again just holding the camera outside the window. No camera mounts for us!

The props in your film are organic and ‘edible’ in a way are they not?  Describe their unique nature for our readers. Do you have a favourite prop?
An essential part of my plan for the film was to make as many of the cafe and jewellery items edible.  It’s a becoming a theme with me, using food in films.  (See Sweet Pickle)  We used everything from olives, caper pods, cherries, pearl onions (we had an onion ‘ring’!), bacon, icing sugar, strawberries, oranges, grapes; there’s even a purse made of cabbage!  And although it’s not edible exactly, Gary Thomas painted my bike helmet into a watermelon for me.  My favourite? The simple sculptural beauty of the rice fettuccine necklace made by Danielle.



Ruth and Poet Danielle Devereaux put a rice fettuccine necklace on Meghan

How did you find time to make all those props with your busy schedule?
Oh, I had lots of help.  We gathered some friends for a prop-making party.  Danielle hosted and Sherry Ryan (who later composed the music), Wanda Nolan (also a screenwriter), and I did most of the assembly of jewellery with her, you made the bread napkin holders for us, and Danielle bought a few special items.  We had even more pieces than we could use but we do show them all in the opening scene.

Edible Jewellry

Edible Jewellery for QA

In the rapidly growing suite of films you’ve directed, what makes Quelle Affaire special?

This one is special because, as you’ve said, the dreamy quality is magnificent.  I was aiming for simplicity- just a phone, great imagination, and a few dollars.  I spent my $600 artist fee on the production.  When you consider the talent in the team we pulled together, that is outstanding value.  It’s not possible with every project, obviously, but I’m thrilled with the result on this one.  I had a small, multi-talented team; lots of friends who did several different things, pitching in wherever it was needed.  As a special bonus, after the filming was complete, we ate all the leftovers!

Melon Helmet and Cabbage Purse

Melon Helmet and Cabbage Purse

To see more of Ruth’s films view Sweet Pickle here:

Another recent short Talus and Scree

And OF COURSE be sure to come see the film at 7pm Oct.17th (LSPU HALL)!!


Post by Latonia Hartery

(Interactive)Incubator Project – Transmedia and Web Base Project Development at SJIWFF

Hi Everybody! The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (25th year!) is underway. It runs from October 14-18th, at venues throughout the city. It’s a banner week for filmmakers and film lovers in NL since we get to see films from around the world. We’ll also get a chance to bond as a community, and celebrate the vibrant arts scene in our province. We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and we’ve forged a unique culture on this island, so it makes sense that thoughtful visual art is created here. This year’s festival showcases 4 local features, and 15 local shorts/ docs (see here

Opening and Closing Films at the SJWIFF

Opening and Closing Films at the SJIWFF

The SJIWFF is one of the longest running Women’s FF in the world. Each year just keeps getting better and in 2014 they launched a new program called the [Interactive] Incubator Project (IIP). I was lucky enough to be chosen for this exciting endeavour, with an interactive project I am calling Out in the Cold: The Story of Newfoundland’s Sealskin Boots. Other women chosen for the IIP are Jenna McMillan (PEI) for her project Gran BanditAnnie McEwen (NL) for The Girls of Sheshatshiu, Christine McLean (NB) with The Wild, Wild East, and Heather Rumancik (NL) for Little Theatre/Big Ideas (Heather also worked on Sadie).  Check out more info here:

These five transmedia/web-based projects will receive expert advice on how to develop, focus and network our projects. Jenn Brown is the industry liaison at SJIWFF and the point person for this incredible opportunity, and she also organizes the annual film forum (i.e. daily workshops, pitch sessions, panels etc). We’re thankful to have such a capable and cordial individual at the helm of this important part of the festival. Check out the inspiring schedule we’ll be keeping during the days – WOW (Jenn for Prime Minister!):

jenn brown

Jenn Brown – Industry Liasion at SJIWFF

By now you’re probably thinking what a great experience, but wait…. it gets EVEN better. Enter, Carol Whiteman, from Women in the Director’s Chair. She’s a two-time Governor General’s Award-nominee and an award-winner for promoting women’s equality in Canada’s screen-based media industry.  Carol’s pretty busy, but she came to St. John’s to guide us through the Women in the Director’s Chair Career Advancement Module (WIDC CAM), as part of the IIP. She’ll also help make sure we get the most of the week.  Yesterday at NIFCO, she formed a most dynamic duo with Garwin Sanford, together they taught us a master class on pitching ideas and concepts, as well as the importance of being yourself, and knowing yourself. It was such a great 6 hr workshop/discussion; we didn’t want it to end. For more details on the WIDC CAM see here,

IIP winners/WIDC CAM participants (seated), Carol Whiteman (standing). Photo credit Garwin Sanford

IIP winners/WIDC CAM participants (seated), Carol Whiteman (standing). Photo credit Garwin Sanford

The IIP will be happening again next year and all the women in film/tv should apply, Apply, APPLY! We had our first meeting yesterday, and it was great to have Carol and Garwin hear our ideas, give us feedback on them, as well as give us tips on how to navigate through what sometimes feels like ‘the grind’ in this business. The comradery of the group, and the support of the SJIWFF staff, was also wonderful. They gave us Thanksgiving dinner and a $1000 gift certificate from WF Whites (and to think I usually have a glass of wine with my turkey, this pairing is way better). A huge shout out needs to be given to the SJIWFF board and staff, who have, over the years, taken this festival week from a time to watch films, to an integral event that fosters growth for female AND male filmmakers locally and country wide.

Before I go, I have to link/list names of the people that make this week come together:

Staff/Technicians: Sarah Smellie, Jenn Brown, Eilish Mc Brearty, Tiffany Martin, Sherri Levesque, Victoria Wells, Marie Jones, Laura Huckle, Riel Warrilow, Mary Germaine and Philip Winters.

Names and Bios of the accomplished Board members who watch/select the films:

See y’all at the events, and if you run in to any of these people, congratulate them on their hard work! Happy Festival Week to all.


Post by Latonia Hartery