Director Shelagh Carter was recently featured in an interview with Sheila O’Malley on her website, The Sheila Variations (sheilaomalley.com).
Read the excerpt below, or for the full interview, click here.
Shelagh Carter is a Winnipeg-based filmmaker. Her feature film Passionflower, was a frankly autobiographical story – beautifully told – about growing up with a mentally ill mother. It won numerous awards. I interviewed Shelagh about Passionflower here. Her latest feature, Before Anything You Say, is an extremely intense hour-long film about a couple who have reached an almost total impasse in their relationship. Starring Darcy Fehr and Kristen Harris (both of whom played the lead roles in Passionflower), Before Anything You Say is an at-times hallucinatory look at what happens when things are left unsaid, when trust is broken, when the mere prospect of “breaking up” CAUSES the breaking-up to start occurring. A deeply unsettling film, beautifully written, acted, and directed, Before Anything You Say is making its premiere at the Madrid International Film Festival in July, and Carter has been nominated for Best Director, Harris for Best Actress, and Chad Tremblay for editing.
It’s a poignant and profound film, and it has a “mess” to its structure and approach (I mean that as highest praise) that is a welcome change to the easily-summed-up and easily-digested material that now passes for “adult relationship” dramas. What happens in Before Anything You Say is that as the crisis intensifies, as the words they use get more and more cruel (albeit truthful), you feel the fragility of any bond between humans, you feel wonder that anyone “makes it” at all. Will these two “make it”? Their connection is very strong. They have built a life together. That life is now threatened. Nobody faces such a situation calmly. Well, maybe sociopaths do. But these two – educated and articulate people – do their best to contain the situation, before completely surrendering to the chaos of the impending crisis. Fear is at the heart of it. Anticipatory fear of loss, regret, grief. Kristen Harris and Darcy Fehr both give phenomenal performances.
Recently, I interviewed Shelagh Carter about Before Anything You Say.
I was thinking about Passionflower and how Passionflower has a formal structure to it and Before Anything You Say does not. Before Anything You Say jumps around in chronology, fracturing the timeline of events. I wondered if you could talk about developing Before Anything You Say, and how you decided on HOW you would tell the story.
The earliest film that inspired me was the famous Hiroshima Mon Amour, a collaboration between Alain Resnais and Marguerite Duras. He always drove home working with writers and he wanted to see if cinema could tolerate language. I mean that in the best sense of the word, because as a cinema person I always think of the image, like Antonioni, for example. Antonioni would put all these pictures together and then put dialogue to the picture, and it was very sparse and much more traditionally what we conceive of as being cinematic. But I also felt that I had something to say, and so I took the story idea to Debbie Schnitzer. We had also just seen the Darcy Fehr play George in a fabulous production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
read the rest of the interview on The Sheila Variations.