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Victoria Film Festival Interview: PORCH STORIES director Sarah Goodman

Porch Stories - At VFF 15
by Jason Whyte

"A film about love, doubt and the secrets neighbours keep, starring two of the best loved musicians in Canada, PORCH STORIES interweaves three different stories on three porches in a changing neighborhood one day in summer. Emma (Laura Barrett, of HIDDEN CAMERAS) is about to get married when Gabriel (Jose Miguel Contreras, of BY DIVINE RIGHT), an old flame, shows up on her porch, throwing her planned out life into confusion, as neighbours watch, and eventually intervene." Director Sarah Goodman on her film PORCH STORIES which screens at the 2015 Victoria Film Festival.

Is this your first movie in the Victoria Film Festival, and are you coming to Victoria for the screening?

I am very pleased to have a film at the Victoria Film Festival for the first time, unfortunately I am not sure if I will be able to make it out for the screening.

Tell me a bit about your background and what led you into movies and film festivals.

I started off in documentary film. ARMY OF ONE (Hot Docs Best Canadian Documentary Award 2004, Gemini Nomination for Best Director in 2005) and WHEN WE WERE BOYS (Donald Brittain Gemini Nomination for Best Social Political Documentary 2011, Indiewire Top 10 Documentaries of 2009) launched my career. I have also directed TV docs for Discovery, History, CBC and others. I' have always had drama narratives in my mind; my documentaries were constructed in the same vein so it was not a big leap, creatively. Though there has been much to learn in the transition to fiction. Porch Stories is my first feature narrative film and I have learned a tremendous amount during the process of making it.

How did this whole project come together from your perspective?

I had another feature in the works, but it was being weighed down by funding and budgetary issues. I decided I wanted to put together a really doable project that I could make and not have to wait. So I constructed a story which could be shot all on my street and in my apartment. I pulled together a small, supportive crew, and I had to think outside the box for the casting process; selecting people with performance experience (musicians) who were not trained as actors. This all enabled me to shoot the film on a tiny budget, while still paying everyone something and having tasty food on set...the most important thing. The film was made by this extremely talented group; people went above and beyond, and it was a good vibe on set. I am fortunate to have had an amazing creative collaboration with all the key creatives, including cinematographer Maya Bankovic, editor Bryan Atkinson, and to have had two leads, Laura Barrett and Jose Miguel Contreras, who are also kick-ass musicians and who created an amazing soundtrack.

What was the biggest challenge in making the film? And the most rewarding moment?

Making a film on a tiny budget comes with a myriad of challenges. Time constraints are one. The most rewarding moment came at 4:45am after filming all night and the quietest time to get outdoor nighttime scenes on our porches. It was our ast night of filming and our last shot. We were racing the sun and it was near summer equinox. We made the shot and while dazed with lack of sleep watched the sunrise over the peaceful street, as early morning joggers came by. It was a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

What keeps you going while making a movie? How much coffee?

I am one of those unusual filmmakers who does not drink coffee! Chocolate helps. It is always a push pull between inspiration, fear, and yes, fatigue.

I would love to know about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography, what the movie was shot on and why it was decided to be filmed this way.

PORCH STORIES was shot on a Canon 5D Mark III. This was a camera that fit our budget, and Maya Bankovic worked wonders with it. I decided early on that black and white was the way to go, for creative reasons; this timeless quality of peoples lives passing by on these porches that have been on this street for almost a hundred years. We shot it that way so we could light and set decoration according to a grey scale range.

I would love to hear about the journey this movie has had on the fest circuit, and the plans you have for the movie after it plays in Victoria.

We have just started touring festivals. After Victoria is Kingston, and then after a few other Ontario screenings, we will be playing a wonderful women festival in Chile called Fem Cine. Our theatrical release will begin in June at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto, and hopefully hit up other towns, before being available online and on VOD.

What would you say or do to someone who is talking or texting during a screening of your film in a cinema?

That is totally a pet peeve, but not for my screenings; for any screenings!

There are a lot filmmakers, especially up-and-comers, reading our site. I was curious if you had any advice to aspiring filmmakers?

Do NOT wait for someone to give you approval. Get out there and make your idea happen. Strategize so it is something doable within modest means. There is a lot of power in making micro-budget films, and that is in the freedom you get. If you can, develop a hard skill such as cinematography or editing, if you have a knack for either, something you can make a living doing, and that will give you more freedom with your own projects.

And finally, what would you say is your favorite movie (or film festival movie)?

I find that is the most impossible question, because there are so many films I love, but MEEK'S CUTOFF by Kelly Reichardt is a relatively recent film that I just think is near perfect.

For additional information on the Victoria Film Festival including screening times, ticketing information and other events happening around the city in the next ten days, point your browser to

Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @jasonwhyte for live updates throughout the fest including Instagram updates, commentary and links to upcoming interviews and coverage. If you see me in line, please say hi!

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 02/11/15 04:22:07
last updated: 02/11/15 04:26:53
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