If you’ve got your finger on the pulse of the Canadian showbiz scene, you will have seen Jessica Hinkson in the original co-creation of “Charlie & Yoni,” which rocked the CBC Comedycoup Competition in 2014 and solidified her place as a creative force to watch. Since then, she has continued to create and star in numerous award-winning short film projects. She is the co-creator/story editor/star of the multi-award-winning short film “Jessica Jessica.” Currently, you can catch her in Lowell Dean’s “Another Wolfcop” as Dr. Ilsa Brundel, alongside Kevin Smith andYannick Bisson, and soon in Carinne Leduc’s “Home.” As an author, her writing has been published in Notable Life & The Elephant Journal. She is working on a literary deal for her first book that she co-authored, called “Love Your Yoni.” She is also a mentor for WIFT-T’s mentorship program.
Laura Nordin produces, directs, and acts. Currently based in Toronto, she is originally from Vancouver, BC. Laura holds her BFA from UBC and her MFA from the joint program between Harvard’s American Repertory Theatre Institute and the Moscow Art Theatre School. In 2010, she co-founded Filmcoop with Emily Andrews as a means to collaborate with and encourage filmmakers to realize their creative vision. In 2016, the CFC approached Laura and Emily to produce the short dramatic film “Cleo,” which went on to premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. She was nominated for Best Director at the HollyWood Dreamz Film Festival in Las Vegas.
Tara Karajica talks to Jessica Hinkson and Laura Nordin about their short film, “Joey,” their thoughts on the short form and women in film as well as what they have in the pipeline for better times.
How did you get into filmmaking and what inspires you to make films?
Jessica Hinkson: After theater school in New York, I moved back home to B.C. My longtime pal Justine Warrington and I met doing a play. After that, we decided to produce some wacky short comedic plays together by David Ives. The intention was to create a platform showcasing ourselves and fellow creatives with the hopes to invite potential future work. I continued to produce indie theater that eventually led to indie filmmaking. What shifted for me as a creative was how my voice was being heard, and how that point of view mattered and meant as a woman who has had specific yet relatable human experiences. And when you watch my work, you’ll see that there are recurring themes and archetypes that the storytelling lives within.
Laura Nordin: I started a collective with Emily Andrews and it’s grown into our production company, Filmcoop Inc. Ten years ago, we were meeting on the weekends, for fun, to experiment with filmmaking. I love the community that film brings together. Telling stories and helping others bring their visions to the screen are my passions.
Can you talk about your short film, Joey?
J.H.: Absolutely! Joey is an exploration of fantasy colliding with reality. A playful dreamy adventure seeking what Joey hopes for in life and reaps from it. She chooses her path as well as she explores how that path has chosen her. The “dream,” rooted in her past and present experiences; what is real is not as important as what is true in her heart. Joey accepts that she cannot predict what her future holds. She realizes that the joy of life comes with no longer craving to control its outcome. We want the audience to leave their analytical heads and follow us on an adventure of the heart that is ridiculous and strange. We endeavor to sweep our audience away to a magical island where they are pleasantly surprised, eerily chilled, and where laughter is plentiful. We hope we have created a dreamscape of enduring mystery. This world is an extension of our inner explorer. It is wondrous, absurd, and playful. It’s the amusement park ride that is our inner life.
How do you see the short form today?
L.N.: The continued evolution of this medium and what filmmakers achieve creatively with short form storytelling is inspiring; it is limitless. When we started making short films, they were calling cards, or rather a stepping-stone. And short films continue to be those things, which is both important and necessary, but now, there is a life outside of the “calling card.” Festivals have continued to shift and expand too when it comes to short form. We have met so many amazing filmmakers from around the world. Along with our films and “us,” the filmmakers have been celebrated in ways we did not imagine. Some extraordinary, not just art-filled, but life experiences have been had. Not to mention the many streaming platforms that celebrate the short form of film storytelling now – it is incredibly inspiring.
What is your opinion on the situation of women in film today?
J.H.: There’s so much opportunity to create and build a better industry. The industry itself is beginning to open up to new stories from womxn by womxn and it’s very exciting. Female/non-binary directors are starting to be offered bigger budgets for films. We are beginning to see womxn in power and as actual decision-makers. There’s still so much to do. We are not at parity anywhere in the industry yet. The fact that we are still excited and surprised to see a womxn’s name in the credits as Director or D.o.P. or Editor or Gaffer, etc. is very telling. We are still hearing the phrase: “First womxn to __blank__ and First womxn to win ___x___ award.” It’s clear we are still nowhere near equality. We continue to hear that womxn are fighting for equal pay, for star billing, for recognition beyond their dress size. Another discussion we’re sick of is: “Will men go see this film that is directed by a womxn about womxn?” The answer is Yes! Men are interested in great stories. Can we please stop making womxn’s equality a divisive conversation? Men don’t lose when womxn are supported and take the lead. Our world gets bigger and better when womxn are in it and fully participating. We are seeing progress, but there’s still so much to be done.
Who is your favorite female filmmaker and what is your favorite film by a female filmmaker?
L.N. I love Jodie Foster. When I saw Little Man Tate, I was fifteen and it hit home for me that it was her debut as a director. It felt like a big deal to me. It’s not an amazing film, but it was a film that made me think that I might be able to do that one day. Naming a favorite film by a female filmmaker is tough… There are so many that I love! Little Miss Sunshine, A League of Their Own, Boys Don’t Cry, American Psycho – Mary Harron! When I saw American Psycho, I was shocked to see a woman’s name as the director. I was twenty-four and I assumed it was going to be directed by a man based on what I knew from the book. That was the film that gave me a tangible example that womxn could make provocative and daring work with strong aesthetic choices. It’s an amazing film.
J.H.: It’s impossible to list just one. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Issa Rae, Ava DuVernay, Joey Soloway, Greta Gerwig, Deepa Mehta, Miranda July, Sofia Coppola. A League of Their Own directed by the one and only Penny Marshall. I mean, that is the power of extraordinary storytelling right there. I strive to tell a great story like that one, along with the creatives – listed above – and the stories that they tell one day. A story that imprints you as a human, that is genre-bending just like life.
What are your next projects?
L.N.: I am working on the development of a horror/thriller feature directed by Reem Morsi and written by Jonathan Joffe. And I’m working on being a mom to my six-month-old baby girl.
J.H.: Sara is a short film that I have written and will direct in 2021. A woman finds the strength to confront her greatest fear by relying on the comfort of strangers. My collaborating partner, Jessica Greco, and I are developing our multi-award-winning short Jessica Jessica into a series. I’m a creative producer on a feature, “Paper Cranes,” written and to be directed by award-winning filmmaker Darwin Serink. The film speaks about the current U.S. healthcare crisis, Immigration, and LGBTQIA+ rights and the healing power of friendship.