Reeling from the end of a traumatic relationship, a Type A 40-something woman seeks to move on by training for the notoriously grueling Ironman, but a devastating illness forces her to face her past instead of running away- literally- from it. It is our pleasure to speak with Jane Dafoe about her latest film project.
What draws you to the language of cinema?
The language of cinema has so many layers that culminate in mesmerizing storytelling. Sometimes it’s subtle such as in Brokeback Mountain. When Jack’s mother gives his shirts to Ennis – her simple glance conveys an acknowledgment of their love – evoking profound emotions in the viewer. Other times it’s jarring, vibrant imagery such as the horror in the film Parasite that we can’t turn away from. Brilliant film editing captures the intensity and desperation of Andrew in Whiplash. Andrew Garfield’s performance in Tick, Tick… Boom! brings the joy and pain of the pursuit of creativity to life. The language of cinema allows us to be introspective by going deeper inside ourselves, while it also allows us to escape by feeling completely outside of ourselves in an alternate world.
How and when did you start studying films?
In 2015 I began my studies in film, taking a course at a local university.
I had been through a challenging personal situation and kept reliving it as short clips in my head. At first it was traumatic and then at times funny. The scenes evolved and eventually came with a soundtrack. I felt this was a sign that I was meant to share my story in film.
When did you realize that you wanted to work in media and make films and what was the first film project that you created?
My desire to work in film began in 2015. However, as a fundraiser working for various charities,
storytelling was an integral part of my job for years. My first film was a short documentary entitled Kylan, A Survivor’s Story that I co-produced with https://www.robingproductions.ca/.
Kylan had suffered a severe traumatic brain injury as a young adult, which had a devastating effect on his and his family members’ lives. The documentary was a medium to communicate that this can happen to anyone and there is hope for recovery. Although tragic, Kylan’s story had a counterintuitive angle. Despite his extreme challenges, he is an incredibly charming, hilarious, and endearing human being that I was honored to know.
Which directors have been influential in your work and why?
While I love many genres of film, I appreciate directors that focus on the human condition – our
weaknesses and resiliency. At the top of my list are Jason Reitman and Sarah Polley.
Jason Reitman is a wonderful storyteller, who as a screenwriter himself, seems to respect the craft. Juno remains one of my favorite films to this day. This endearing story made me laugh all the way through and then feel surprisingly moved at the end. His film Tully is very underrated with an important message conveyed brilliantly by Charlize Theron.
Sarah Polley’s film Take This Waltz was at times uncomfortable to watch but beautifully captured our innate desire to constantly want more. Her documentary The Stories we Tell, was a vulnerable and honest portrayal of a complicated family.
How difficult is it to find the right audience for an indie film and what is your distribution strategy?
I ascribe to Sophia Coppola’s philosophy of writing for yourself first and then finding like-minded people to produce your film. If it resonates with them, it will resonate with the public.
I have had success on the Indie film festival circuit, having been accepted into nine festivals to date. I am also networking with as many people in the industry as I can. I appreciate the opportunity to be featured in this magazine.
What was the inspiration behind the making of your latest project?
Rewiring Jade is a film about believing you are chasing your dreams, when in fact you’re running away from a nightmare. It’s about learning to slow down, process and release pain and finding happiness in small moments.
Although not an autobiography, this film was inspired by my decade-long experience of struggling with a mysterious chronic illness. The timeline has been condensed to make the story more digestible, and most characters are fictional. The parallels of my story and the protagonist Jade’s are the devastating consequences that being solely focused on one’s goals had and the epiphany we had upon recovery.
When one loses everything, there are struggles around identity, relationships change, and self-loathing is normalized. Fear is a daily state of mind. In recovery, as Jade claws her way back to her old life, she wonders if she really wants it back. While the film is centered on chronic illness, the themes are far reaching and relatable. I did not set out to make a ‘disease movie of the week.’ The humor in the film may be unexpected, but it was a way for me to reclaim my power by laughing at an illness that almost destroyed me.
How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society?
I worry that empathy is dwindling, and the world is becoming more divisive. Effective storytelling can draw people in to understand another’s point of view. As author John Koenig defines with the fictional word sonder: the realization that each random passerby is the main character of their own story, living a life just as vivid and complex as your own, while you are just an extra in the background.
Please tell us about your next project.
My next project is in the initial stages of development, and it is a sequel to Rewiring Jade. Inspired loosely on my life experiences post recovery it explores themes of manifesting both positive and negatives things in life and challenges the viewer to have empathy for those that repel us.