Nova Scotia director Stephanie Joline called a draft of her first feature film “The Risky Plan” and never intended to show it to anyone.
But it’s the version of the movie that audiences will see on the big screen today when Night Blooms opens in Halifax.
“I wrote all these crazy things there; and I sat for a few days and then I said, ‘This is the movie,'” he said.
Night Blooms concerns a 17-year-old girl who is related to the 40-year-old father of her best friend. The setting is the small town of Nova Scotia in the 1990s.
It’s not strictly autobiographical, but the film is influenced by some of Joline’s experiences as a teenager.
Mainstreet NS13:34The director of Night Blooms talks about her teenage years and that she takes risks
“I was one of those typical bad teens who just went out and got drunk and did things you shouldn’t have done,” he said.
The story of a rebellious teenager is not an original idea, Joline said, but she hoped that talking about the mistakes she made then would resonate with people.
For a long time, these experiences seemed out of bounds.
“I’m really learning how to be compassionate with myself and yes, I made some mistakes that I was very ashamed of; but the over-dramatized versions of some of my mistakes are now on film.”
Although Night Blooms takes place three decades ago, delves into some contemporary issues, such as consensus. But it does not draw easy conclusions.
“I really like the gray area and I really like going to this gray, blurry area when people don’t want me,” said Joline, who has also worked as an editor and videographer for CBC Nova Scotia.
This kind of fearless and personal storytelling is something Joline remembers learning during a screenwriting class with Andrea Dorfman.
Dorfman, a well-known film director and animator, encouraged students to “go to a place of shame and embarrassment” because that is what resonates with people.
“I think we allow ourselves this incredible space, the freedom and weightlessness that happens when we let go of shame and realize, ‘Oh yes, everyone feels that,'” Dorfman said.
At first, it was a scary idea for Joline, who at the time was struggling with an eating disorder she had kept to herself.
He decided to write about it in a screenplay that he eventually showed to some friends. It became her first short film.
Joline ended up starring in the 2014 Dorfman movie heart beat.
Night Blooms Starring Jessica Clement and American actor Nick Stahl, whom Joline met on the set of the film Afghan Luke.
Stahl is best known for his role in the 2003 sci-fi action film, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
The two were bonded because of their love for Canadian Indie music. Once Joline wrote Wayne’s character, she knew she wanted to ask Stahl to play the role.
Clement plays Carly, a teenage girl who desperately wants to become a rock star but does not have the discipline to learn how to play an instrument.
Clement said her character makes many choices she would not make, but Joline helped her understand the motivations behind them.
“I did not hate the character, but I definitely got bored with her sometimes,” Clement said.
He said this to Joline at some point during the production, without realizing that Carly was loosely based on the life of the director himself.
“And I said, ‘Oh, I have to ride my bike back,'” Clement laughed. “But she’s very open about what her teenage life was like, and she really improved when she wrote … the embarrassing things she might not have shared otherwise. I think these are the things that really sell this story the most.”
Joline knows that not everyone will like her movie, but she’m proud that she did something that looks real.
“I do not think I could have made it feel so real if I did not go to some deep, dark places that I feel very personal,” he said.
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