A nine-year-old boy gets suspended from school and embarks on a journey through the streets of Toronto — before returning home to face his mother — in Karen Chapman's exploration of childhood, loss, and responsibility.
Hi Karen as this will be the World Premiere of Measure at TIFF, are there any nerves ahead of the screening?
I am very nervous but I'm working on turning that energy into excitement.
What does it mean for you to be in the Short Cuts programme?
It's wonderful and surreal. I've submitted for years and to finally have a film at TIFF, it feels like a big achievement for me. I made my first film at sixteen, twenty years ago. My family has been so supportive but it felt irresponsible to continue. I was the midst of quitting film altogether, after getting a customer service job, when everything started to change. I'm very glad that I did not quit.
Tell me a little bit about Measure, how did this film come about?
Measure was my final assignment at the Canadian Film Centre's, Cineplex Film Program Directors' Lab. The task was to write and direct a short film in the span of a little under two months.
The short is based in the world of my feature film, Village Keeper. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to examine another storyline and shoot in the locations for the feature ahead of time.
What was the inspiration behind your screenplay?
My work tends to examine trauma, particularly, the effects that violence has on families. I'm inspired by the heroes in our lives that seem to dwell in the shadows. A kind word, an act of kindness, these gestures have really impacted my life and I've never seen a film that examines them.
What was the most challenging scene for you to film?
The most challenging scenes were the ones shot inside, we only had one day to shoot in the apartment. There were several setups and it felt like the sun was setting quickly out of spite. We were also adhering to the strict break rules every hour when working with children.
"I made many costly mistakes. But I kept making films and started to become a lot more careful with time and planning."
Looking back do you think there is anything you would have done differently on this film?
My mom says that education always comes at a cost. I grew and learned so much throughout this process, so even with the challenges, it feels like a fair exchange.
How different was your approach to this film compared to your previous documentary films?
I've usually been able to shoot more and longer days. Knowing that I had less time, my shot lists were far more detailed and paired down to only what was needed to tell the story.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
I would say that before filmmaking it was storytelling. My father would tell us stories of Anansi the spider and all of his misadventures, I would hang on every word. Stories helped me to understand the world and my place in it.
Has your style as a director changed much since your debut film?
My first films were terrible. Even after going to art school, my films were awful for a long time. I made many costly mistakes. But I kept making films and started to become a lot more careful with time and planning. I would say overall my style has become more instinctual. I trust myself in a way that I never did when I first started.
How best would you describe Measure?
I would describe Measure as a quiet journey of a determined little a boy on a mission.
Do you have any tips or advice you could offer a fellow writer/director?
Treat people fairly and be gentle with yourself. Be persistent and don't wallow in rejection beyond the next sunrise.
And finally, what do you think has been the most important lesson you have taken away from making Measure?
As a Black mother, it's hard not to be aware of the way Black children are treated, compared to others. It makes me want to protect them while shining a light on inequity. This film is an examination of what happens when the measures of a man fall on a boys shoulders.