VIFF 2016 Interview: THE UNSEEN & WEIRDOS' actress Julia Sarah Stone
By Jason Whyte
Posted 10/04/16 02:59:39
"THE UNSEEN and WEIRDOS are, respectively, a sci-fi thriller/drama and a coming-of-age road trip film. As different as those sound, they are alike in that they are incredible stories driven by characters desperate to find their place in life.
THE UNSEEN is a new take on the disappearing man story, wherein instead of starting completely invisible, he deals with the physical and mental anguish of slowly disappearing "Swiss cheese style", to quote writer/director Geoff Redknap. Parts of him go missing, and we witness how this dismantles his family, work, and sense of self.
WEIRDOS is a black-and-white road trip movie set in the seventies. It follows two teenagers who love each other, albeit in different ways on a hitchhiking journey across Nova Scotia. There are many weirdos in the film, but not all of them know they're weirdos from the beginning. Some weirdos are figments of other weirdos" imaginations." Actress Julia Sarah Stone on her two films at #VIFF16, THE UNSEEN & WEIRDOS.
What was the moment when you knew you wanted to start acting?
There was never a particular moment; rather, it was a gradual discovery of what I loved to do. Thanks to my mom, I tried a plethora of classes and camps when I was little, and so was able to figure out what I enjoyed. In the end, it was the theatre class I kept wanting to take again and again. The acting classes never stopped, and I still take professional classes!
I am thrilled to see you in two features at VIFF this year! Are you going to be in attendance at your screenings?
I actually also have a short film, called Your Mother and I! I'll be there answering questions after THE UNSEEN on Friday the 30th, YOUR MOTHER AND I on Sunday the 2nd and WEIRODS on Monday October 3rd. I also might be doing Q&As for other dates, so be on the lookout for those!
Both films are from terrific Canadian filmmakers Bruce McDonald and Geoff Redknap. What was your experiences working with them, and did they have any big differences in directing with you?
Geoff has background in puppeteering and effects, so it was fascinating to watch him work and see how that translated into his directing style. He has a wonderful soft-spoken creativity, which really comes through in his work.
Bruce is a complete visionary and a Canadian legend, but he's so down to earth and easygoing, which helps calm the on-set dynamic. That energy also translates to how he works with actors, so we had a lot of freedom when it came to blocking. Bruce has the kind of intelligence that inspires you to learn everything you can.
In THE UNSEEN, you had to work against some pretty complicated visual effects work. What was that like on set for you?
It didn't feel like working against the effects, because they were so incorporated and so fascinating to watch. The effects on THE UNSEEN were done practical, so I saw all the puppeteering, dummies, rigging, and more that is involved in bringing sci-fi to life. It felt like a character in itself, and I loved learning about how it works.
I was really impressed by the black-and-white, lo-fi look and feel of WEIRDOS...what was it like capturing the period & vibe of that era for you?
I think it's a testament to the teams on wardrobe, props, and set decoration! The moment I put on wardrobe and walked on to the set, I felt transported to the seventies; which is really saying something, since I wasn't alive during the era.
There's also a timelessness to Daniel McIvor's writing. Kit and Alice have these very candid interactions, arising so authentically, that it made our jobs easier and even felt like improvisation. Daniel put words to what I think many people feel, but can't describe. That's
part of the movie's charm: we see a bit of ourselves in every
Having seen both movies at festivals in their final version, what was the overall impression from you about the finished product?
I am so proud of both films. It's an incredible feeling to see a beautiful story and know you had a part in telling it. I'm so lucky to have worked with brilliant Canadian filmmakers, who value authentic storytelling and work so, so hard to bring their characters to life.
What are you looking forward to the most about people seeing both movies at the Vancouver Film Festival?
Our ultimate goal as filmmakers is to inspire feeling. All I could hope for is that people come out of the films having felt something, seeing a new perspective, or questioning what they assume to be true. What that is specifically, is up to the person- and that's the great thing about art.
You have a film in the Whistler Film Festival coming up. What can you tell me about it?
Yes! It's called THE SPACE BETWEEN, and it's a drama/dark comedy about a dysfunctional family. It was written and directed by Amy Jo Johnson, and it was so much fun to shoot! The character was unlike any other I have played before. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm looking forward to it!
And finally, what is the greatest movie that you have seen at a film festival and why?
This year at TIFF I had a free afternoon and saw LA LA LAND. I loved the timelessness of it, and how seamlessly they incorporated the musical element. I was impressed by the length and complexity of some of the shots, especially the opening scene! It's definitely on my "watch again" list.
WEIRDOS and THE UNSEEN are among the many films screening at the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival taking place in beautiful Vancouver from September 29th to October 14th. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to www.viff.org or use the VIFF app for Android and iOS.
Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte