Canadian Filmmaking: Rose Lagace on Long Distance Movie

LD Party Invitation

This is the second in my series on the CineCoup Film Accelerator. The first was my interview with Eric Thiessen, director of the film West. This article has a bit of an interesting history behind it. Well OK, I think it’s interesting because it involves me, you may have a different take.

Way back in the dark ages of July/August 2012 when I was just starting on this journey of film and TV journalism I connected with the Twitter account for the Collective Friction Film Collective, an organization dedicated to making meaningful Canadian films and promoting Canadian films in general. They were very supportive of both the Falling Skies Blog and the Road Less Traveled from the beginning. Lots of sympathy for me as one of the lonely voices trying to increase awareness of Canadian film in the US. So when they told me that Collective Friction was participating in the CineCoup program I was pretty excited.

The film, Long Distance, is a romantic drama about two people in love separated by the distances of Canada. From the beginning I was surprised by how much I liked the things I was learning about the film. You all know romance is NOT my thing; I don’t seek it out in my personal life and I don’t usually relate to it on the screen. But I was won over by interesting premise, the obvious passion of the team behind it, and the amazing weekly CineCoup mission videos the team put out.

Long Distance still 1

I’ve gotten the chance have very quick chats about the film with a few members of team on Twitter and Facebook but the timing never really worked out to have my usual long phone chat about the film. With the CineCoup deadlines looming on the horizon I asked Rose Lagace, Collective Friction member, Canadian filmmaker and director/writer of Long Distance, to send me some info on the film and the story behind it. The following is some highlights from her response which I hope to flesh out sometime soon!

November 2012 Rose attended the launch event for CineCoup in Toronto. It was apparent that CineCoup that intended to shake up and “moneyball” the run of the mill Hollywood financing and marketing, using social media as a way to grow audiences before a film is even made. They were looking for films with an emphasis on appealing to the much coveted 18-35 demographic. I’ve mentioned previously that CineCoup is offering up to 1,000,000 CAD in financing and guaranteed release in Cineplex theatres, a huge boon to a Canadian film which would if released at all would normally only get limited runs in big cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

An experienced and avid social media promoter through Collective Friction Rose was immediately interested, as CineCoup seemed to be, in her words “Preaching the gospel I had already been singing.”

“While I’ve wanted to make films obsessively since I was 14 years old, I’ve also always promised myself that if I am going to make a film I want it to have an audience and that is up to me.” Says Rose who continues on to say, “Filmmaking is a lot of work and I value my time as well as my crew’s time. While I personally love and am inspired by art house, independent, Canadian and foreign films I recognize that if I am to make those kinds of films I need to keep my marketing in mind on the onset and not as an after thought.”

One impediment to using CineCoup was the focus on a youth demographic while Rose didn’t think any of the film ideas she was tossing around had an appeal to a youth-oriented demographic. But after a conversation with a friend who was in a long distance relationship with a person in Germany that he met while vacationing in Cuba. Despite the distance and language barrier this friend was endeavoring to make a relationship work with this person whom he connected with so deeply.

Rose realized how many of her friends were either in long distance relationships (or LDRs) or had previously been in one. She found herself wondering why, even though she had haphazardly done LDRs in the past, she was telling herself she would never be in one at her age.

In Rose’s own words “I found myself asking why I would never do it at my age. Which led my internal thought process to questions like ‘What would make me get into a long distance relationship?’ Which the answer was immediately ‘Well maybe if it were a cute stand-up comedian.’ That was my LIGHTBULB MOMENT.  An art director and a stand-up comedian meet and fall in love online and struggle to juggle their careers with their relationship. So I started researching long distance relationships to see if there was an online community for it and to my surprise there was. It was bigger than I thought. That’s when I emailed my producer, Sara Basso at 4am and told her I thought this new idea I had could work really well for Cinecoup given the built in market. She agreed and said if I wanted to move forward with the idea that she was on board.”

After this lightbulb moment, the story eventually evolved to take on aspects of womanhood in general and the pressures young women put on themselves in their 20s. This includes pressure Rose Lagace has put on herself, with a goal to make her first feature film by age 30 which gave her added incentive to push forward and work with CineCoup.

“At some point in January…in the middle of the night my internal dialogue went something like ‘You’re going to kick yourself if you don’t do this. You have nothing to lose right now and that may not always be the case. You promised yourself you’d make a feature by 30. What are you waiting for? Times almost up,'” Rose told me.

Sara Rose and Emma with Film_web

Once the decision was made, the entry fee paid and both Rose and producer Sara Basso were working ahead they knew it was time to find a third member of their CineCoup team. Things got a little complicated here, as Rose explains, “We knew our third member should be a female since our project is from a uniquely female perspective. We spoke to a couple people who didn’t feel quite right. We were losing hope. Then one day Sara introduced me to Emma [Sutherland] not long before we had to go to camera on the trailer. Not only did she love the idea but I could tell right away her personality was perfect for our project. So our power trio was born.”

Rose was very honest about all the work involved with CineCoup, which requires a weekly mission video with a different theme every week, “We had no idea what we were getting into in regards to the amount of work required by Cinecoup but it has made us all stronger because of it. I think we’ve all surprised ourselves and each other. It’s been really challenging and exhausting but in the end I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Long Distance has been a front runner in the CineCoup Film Accelerator from the beginning, not only because of the appeal and resonance of the film itself, but also no doubt helped along by the team’s extensive contacts and experience in the Canadian film industry. I am very excited to see this project move forward and as a voting member of CineCoup myself I can assure everyone this film has something special about it.

“Long Distance follows Sarah, an art director and Jay, a stand up comic who fall in love online and struggle to overcome the distance. When their careers start to build momentum and they begin to choose overtime over quality time, the couple finds themselves frustrated at being under-appreciated by their equally busy, distant partner. Jay and Sarah must decide where their priorities lie, and who or what they will sacrifice in order to have the life they want.”

“Rose Lagace is a filmmaker and production designer based in Toronto. She has designed over 4 dozen projects and won 4 best production design awards on the festival circuit. For the last year she has been working on a documentary about art direction and developing her ideas into scripts.”

CineCoup is in its final round voting, for the Top 15 right now. Voting continues until Sunday. While on this site I can’t endorse any specific projects, many of my opinions can be found on our Twitter page.

Long Distance’s CineCoup page, including the trailer(s) and links to each week’s mission video can be found here.

Keep Calm and Watch a Canadian Film!


~ by The Falling Skies Blog on April 25, 2013.

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