Atlantic Filmmaker Focus - Lisa Rose Snow & Lora Campbell

The Atlantic Film Festival is a champion of Atlantic Canadian filmmakers. In keeping with this promise, every month we profile some of the most incredibly talented people in the filmmaking industry today. This month, we look at the filmmaking team of Lisa Rose Snow (director/writer) and Lora Campbell (producer).
These emerging filmmakers' most recent project, a short film titled, TWO PENNY ROAD KILL, screened at last year’s Atlantic Film Festival.
Lisa Rose Snow (LRS for this interview)
DOB: June 27, ? (It’s a mystery.)
From: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Currently Residing: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Working On: “I’m deep in writing land, working away on a couple of features. I’m also gearing up to work on WHEN FISH FLY, through the NSI Drama Prize (recently awarded).” - LRS
Lora Campbell (LC for this interview)
DOB: August 28, 1984
From: Mount Pearl, Newfoundland
Currently Residing: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Working On: “I am currently completing my CMPA Mentorship with Marc Almon which includes developing a feature as well as developing another feature that Lisa Rose Snow is writing. We are gearing to shoot our NSI Drama Prize, WHEN FISH FLY, in May 2014.”
AFF: What first got you interested in film?
LRS: I’ve always loved movies- watching them, and then trying to get parts in them. I love being in front of the camera, but my curiosity as to what happens behind the camera soon got the better of me. I’ve been taking courses and getting my hands wet ever since.
LC: I had been working in theatre for a long time as a producer, stage manager, director, etc. When I moved to Halifax I was encouraged to seek out AFCOOP and look into film work as well. 2 years, and a lot of courses and questions later, I have gotten the film bug and can’t wait to keep producing work.
AFF: When did you first decide filmmaking would be a career path for you?
LRS: - I’ve been involved in the arts since I was a little girl. I studied theatre in university (I graduated from the acting program at Dalhousie) and then gradually started working more in film. I’ve always known that the arts would be my career, I just didn’t know where I would land.
LC: I think it was during FILM 5 when we made TWO PENNY ROAD KILL that I realized this was what I wanted to do. I loved producing so much from developing to applications, budgets, but most of all, assembling the team that would help bring a writer’s vision to life. It is the most rewarding feeling in the world when you look at a final project and think of the year or so that went into the planning of it.
AFF: What in your opinion makes a good film?
LRS: For me, it all comes down to story. I don’t want to see something that is just pretty, there needs to be something to grasp on to and connect with, and that for me usually comes from story. I also like to experience something new, or watch an idea I’ve never thought of get explored.
LC: A good film has a lot of elements of course, but at the end of the day, it’s the story. Plain and simple. You can’t have a good film without a good story no matter how amazing the creative team is.
AFF: Is there any local talent that you haven’t worked with that you would like to?
LC: There are so many people in this gorgeous city I want to work with and so many people from back home that I have worked with in theatre that I can’t wait to work with in film. I’m not sure who it would be, but I can’t wait to have a half Newfoundland, half Nova Scotia cast in a film, cause it’s gonna be a time!
LRS: There are so many crazily talented people working within these parts. I want to work with everyone!
AFF: What advice would you give an aspiring filmmaker?
LRS: If you want to do it, do it. Take classes, ask questions, get your face out there. You have to be your own biggest champion and you have to keep trying.
LC: AFCOOP. Go. Take classes, go to the socials, meet people, and ask as many questions about anything you possibly can. People in Halifax are amazing and I have yet to write someone and ask for a coffee, date to pick their brains and have them say no. People are generous and encouraging, be a little sponge and soak it up.
AFF: What was the inspiration for the story, in TWO PENNY ROAD KILL?
LRS: TWO PENNY ROAD KILL came after a Fall of road trips between Halifax and Cape Breton. I noticed an extraordinary amount of road kill on the roads and it got me thinking… Who’s job is it to clean this up? I wondered what that person would be like, what they would want from life, how they would live, and the story just kind of bloomed from there.
AFF: What were the key themes or messages that you wanted to convey to the audience?
LRS: I was interested in exploring ideas around loneliness and what happens to people who have settled into being alone. I like the idea of finding connections at any age, and how even the most routine person can encounter something unexpected and slightly magic.
AFF: How did you go about casting your leads for TWO PENNY ROAD KILL?
LRS: We worked with the lovely and talented Zoe Dunsworth. We were lucky enough to see a number of talented people (there really are so many great actors in these parts) but we knew without a doubt that Daniel Lillford and Shelley Thompson were our Lou and Maggie. Daniel was the first person we saw and Shelley the last, and they both brought a gentle magic into the room that was exactly what we were looking for. They had also just worked together on a film (Greg Jackson’s BUNKER 6) so we knew they would be comfortable together and have a chemistry.
AFF: WO PENNY ROAD KILL was shot in and around Halifax, NS. Why did you decide to shoot there?
LRS: For a number of reasons but logistically it just made sense. We shot at my Great Aunt Mal’s house in Fall River. She had just moved in with my parents, so the place was empty. We had looked at a variety of locations, but they were all too new and fancy, for the home that made sense for Lou. Mal’s house was practically unchanged design wise from the late 70’s, and had the perfect look and feel. It was also toward the end of a low traffic cul-de-sac, so we were able to shoot all our exteriors just outside of it, making location moves easy and convenient.

AFF: What were your favorite scenes of the film? Was there a special moment during the making of the film that you will always remember?
LRS: I love the scene by the grave. We shot it very simply, just a two-shot of Lou and Maggie chatting. I remember watching the monitor with my headphones, standing in the woods, tears streaming down my face. The performances were so subtle and powerful. I just remember feeling honoured to be there.

AFF: TWO PENNY ROAD KILL was produced through the Film 5 program offered by the Atlantic Filmmaker’s Co-operative (AFCOOP). What are the benefits of this program to emerging filmmakers?
LRS: Oh goodness, where to begin! We really are so lucky that this program exists. I am extremely grateful for all that I learned and experienced. To be given the opportunity to work with incredible mentors and then a professional crew is just such a gift. Also, to be in a room with a bunch of other filmmakers who are equally as passionate, is completely intoxicating. I am so thankful to Martha, Alex and Jessica, who gave us this chance and trusted us with our piece.

AFF: When is the next opportunity people will have to watch TWO PENNY ROAD KILL?
LRS: You can watch it online through the CBC DOWNLOAD program, and it will also be a part of the NSI Online Film Festival. West Coast friends can catch us at the Vancouver International Women’s Film Festival, in March.
AFF: You were both awarded the NSI Drama Prize, recently. Tell us, a little bit, about what the award entails and what it means to an emerging filmmaker?
LRS: The NSI Drama Prize is very similar to AFCOOP’s FILM 5 program, except it is a national competition. We receive training/mentorship in Winnipeg (1 week each for writer/director/producer) and then funding to make a short film. It is an incredible opportunity to really polish a piece while getting the chance to connect with like-minded individuals from across the country. It’s an incredible opportunity and one that I am very thankful for and excited about!
LC: The NSI Drama Prize is exactly what Lisa said, and it offers around $35,000 in funding and services to create a short film. The staff at the NSI, are experienced and hugely supportive and helpful when it comes to mentoring, marketing and all of the other questions that come up as you look at the filmmaking world, on a national and world wide scale, instead of provincially. As an emerging filmmaker it an invaluable stepping stone towards feature projects that allows us to position ourselves and the films we make, very strongly in the Canadian market which will (hopefully) encourage people to support future projects as well. And ya know, it’s super exciting!

AFF: WHEN FISH FLY is the title of your next production. Can you give us the inside scoop on the film?
LRS: WHEN FISH FLY is a story that I feel very passionate about. It is an exploration of childhood grief and innocence. For this piece, I am interested in exploring without dialogue, and playing with how music and visuals inform story. I think it will be a really rewarding challenge.

AFF: What does the Atlantic Film Festival or screening at the Atlantic Film Festival mean to you?  
LRS: It was a huge honour to have TWO PENNY ROAD KILL’s world premiere in the CBC Shorts Gala at the 2013 Atlantic Film Festival. To be supported by a festival that I have been attending for years, right in my own backyard, was incredible. I am so thankful for the whole AFF team who work tirelessly and continue to promote local talents while also holding their own on an international level. I am proud to be associated with them.
LC: The AFF has been amazing to me since I moved here. I worked as a venue coordinator 2 years ago, and it was so amazing to come back the next year as a participant. Lisa and I took part in so much of the Festival from the CBC Shorts Gala with our film, Strategic Partners, Lisa’s feature LITTLE LOUISE’S MENARCHE was in the Script Development Program, and we are both members of WIFT so we attended those events as well. The AFF represents a coming together of incredibly inspiring Atlantic Canadian talent with international networking opportunities.  It’s always the best time of year when everyone comes together to celebrate one another’s work, and that always makes you go home feeling reenergized.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, ladies! Good luck with NSI!
You can catch Lora and Lisa’s, TWO PENNY ROAD KILL on DOWNLOAD, here DOWNLOAD, is presented by CBC and the Atlantic Film Festival.