Each year, Playback puts out a call for the industry to recommend its best and brightest up-and-coming talent for our 10 to Watch list. And the search keeps getting tougher, as the professionals who make up the screen entertainment industry keep getting better. The selection represented here were carefully chosen with input from a variety of industry sources and organizations. This year’s 10 to Watch were revealed in Playback‘s Fall issue; the stories here are longer versions of the Q&As that appear in the print publication.
MICHELLE OUELLET, DIRECTOR
The buzz: In addition to recently starting Sociable Films with Nicholas Carella and Ali Liebert, B.C.-based Ouellet has carved a short and sharp upward career arc with Canadian Comedy Award-nominated Hooked on Speedman, the TV-web series The True Heroines and the short This Feels Nice (in post).
Where did the idea for Sociable Films come from?
Sociable Films is myself and my two business partners, Nicholas Carella and Ali Liebert. We kind of knew each other through some mutual friends and worked together on a play. We really loved working together, so we thought ‘let’s make a film together.’ We realized that we had a similar philosophy and working style. So we thought ‘let’s just make a company, let’s make a bunch of stuff together, and let’s support each other, not only working together, but in other ventures.’
Why do you think it’s a good model?
There have been a lot of cutbacks as of late. It gets harder and harder to raise the funds that one needs to make quality films. So I feel like this kind of model – the model of everybody working together, pitching in and creating a sense of community – is important. By working together we can help each other make each of our projects.
What are you working on through the shingle at the moment?
I just wrapped our first feature film, After Party. It was fully improvised. So I came up with 40 scenes, I talked the actors through their characters, and they were very involved in creating their characters. I integrated some of those character details into plot points. Then, on the day, we’d sit down and talk about the scene and go and shoot it.
About a year ago I shot a short film on 60 mm called This Feels Nice, which is in the final phases of post-production. Now we’re just getting it organized to try to submit it to some festivals.
What attracts you to a story or a script?
I love stories that are character-driven pieces. I found that over the films I’ve made, that’s a recurring theme, even if the genres change. My first film, Hooked on Speedman was a comedy, and This Feels Nice is more of a drama. They’re very different in terms of feel and mood, but it’s all about a person seeking something.
What have you got coming up as a director/producer?
Up next, we’re going to be shooting a film called Alice & Roy, based on a short story by Canadian author Devon Code. Then we’re actually working on developing a feature-length script called Tiny Replicas, written by a local playwright named Dave Deveau.
Where do you see the Canadian indie filmmaking market going?
There’s a lot of quality work being done. I think we’re moving in the right direction. If we can continue to strengthen our own market and promote our own films, I believe Canadian people will watch Canadian films if we know they’re out there. We’ve seen that trend with TV with shows like Rookie Blue and Flashpoint.