Torronto International Film Festival 2019
Anna Maguire: "Each time I make a film I learn something (or many things!) new, and realise how I could have done things differently. But we have a film that I’m very proud of, so I’ll reserve those lessons for the next one."
World Premiere | 16 minutes
A recent graduate is urged by an impossibly perfect woman to start digging a hole in a nearby park, setting in motion a chain of events that threaten her emotional balance and carefully maintained routines.
Hey Anna, thanks for talking to TNC, how is everything going?
It’s going well thanks!
As this will be the World Premiere of It's Nothing at TIFF, are there any nerves ahead of the screening?
There are always nerves, but I’m excited more than anything to share the hard work that went into making this film and share Julia’s very honest and brave story that she originally wrote as play for young adults to raise awareness around eating disorders and the emotions that can drive them. We’ve painstakingly developed and raised money for this film since the first meeting about it in 2014, so it’s especially rewarding for all the hard work to pay off and reach such a great audience.
What does it mean to be at TIFF 2019?
It’s so wonderful to be back! I premiered a short ‘Your Mother and I’ in 2016, and I had such a good experience. The programmers really care about the filmmakers whose work they present and work tirelessly to promote and show the work to engaged audiences. It’s a dream premiere for ‘It’s Nothing’ as we made the film with support from The Ontario and Canadian Arts Councils, with a largely Canadian cast and crew. TIFF means we can all celebrate it together.
Does being nominated for the Short Cuts Award add any additional pressure on you?
Not really – awards are really lovely things to win or be nominated or eligible for, but they’re not the main aim of making a film.
Tell me a little bit about It's Nothing, how did this film come about?
Julia approached me through a mutual friend in 2014 when I arrived in Canada to take part in the actors’ conservatory at the Canadian Film Centre. She had written a really powerful play for young audiences about a young woman digging a hole encouraged by an impossibly perfect girl – a metaphorical exploration of anorexia. She’d written a loose draft of it as a short film, and was looking to work with a director to develop it and make the film with. We had a series of discussions around our different styles, what we envisaged for the film, and how we wanted to tell the story, and we realised we were very much on the same page and decided to collaborate together!
"I think there’s a through-line stylistically and thematically – though I do like to experiment with style, form and content!"
What was it about Julia Lederer screenplay that really interested you as a director?
The subject matter and the very visual and metaphorical exploration drew me to it immediately, but I realised that it would take some funding and support to make the film in the way that I saw it in my mind. So we set about developing the script. Julia is such an instinctive writer, as well as being really clear about her intentions, so the collaboration was really fulfilling and inspiring as we went about developing the original play script for the screen.
What was the most challenging scene for you to film?
What scene wasn’t challenging?! They all had their fun challenges – be it a location time crunch, a hurricane that decided to blow through the weekend we were filming, making us have to change our entire schedule 36 hours before the first day of shooting, digging a six-foot by ten-foot hole in a public park and then filming through the night, a choreographed dance piece… You name it we have it!
Looking back do you think there is anything you would have done differently on this film?
Each time I make a film I learn something (or many things!) new, and realise how I could have done things differently. But we have a film that I’m very proud of, so I’ll reserve those lessons for the next one.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Yes! I’ve been working in film since I was a child – the first film I acted in was ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and I was hooked. I just sort of fell into it and kept acting over various summer holidays. After I went to university I started acting again after taking some time out to focus on my studies and realised I also wanted to make my own work so I started with a very modest short film ‘Don’t forget your mittens’ and never looked back.
How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut short?
I think there’s a through-line stylistically and thematically – though I do like to experiment with style, form and content! I’ve made horror films, dramas, films that are more experimental, acted in films I’ve written and directed and directed other peoples’ writing. I want to keep exploring and I don’t want to get pigeonholed into one specific kind of narrative or style.
How best would you describe It's Nothing?
Do you have any tips or advice for any up and coming filmmakers?
Make work any way you can! Find people to collaborate with, and keep being excited about the stories that are within your reach right now, and the stories you’re hoping to tell in the future.
And finally, what do you think has been the most important lesson you have taken away from making It's Nothing?
How many people are touched by eating disorders and mental health disorders, and how we need to shed light on these things, talk about them, and share our experiences, because only through sharing can we understand and heal.