Friday, February 25, 2011

The Flurries of February

Batten down the hatches...

I knew February was going to be intense, but so much seems to be happening all at once now that our (really well-reviewed!) album has been launched this week, the film is poised to close the Rendez-vous festival tomorrow night and then is scheduled to come out in Quebec theatres next Friday - with a preview screening this Monday thrown in for good measure ...

Marked by the opening of the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois and interview requests starting to trickle in from across Canada, finishing the French version of the film (have I mentioned how really good it is?), hammering out the finicky details of the poster in both official languages, preparing the film's coming out in Quebec and then R.O.C., this whole, foreshortened month of my birth as well as my film's, has been a breathtaking whirlwind.

But the winds of whirl turned up to hurricane force this past week...

Our young star Julia and her fabulous mom, Sue (notably referred to as "Ju and Sulia" by yours truly during a thank you speech recently!) landed in town on Tuesday just in time for the album launch party. Then along with Macha and Barbara, we spent the next day doing a carousel of multi-media interviews at a great Mile End diner called Nouveau Palais. You have to be in it to believe it, but the game of musical chairs they call a "press junket" I can only liken to "speed dating" - of marathon proportions.

For Julia and I, this was our first press junket experience. So we were both a bit nervous. But at the end of that long day (10 am to 3:30 pm) of sitting in a booth in front of one journalist, telling our story into a microphone (or cell phone, or camera), getting the tap from Mélanie Mingotaud (publicist extraordinaire) to get up and move to the next booth and start all over again... after doing that ad inifinitum all day, we were naturally exhausted. But also, exhilarated.

For the most part, it seemed that the journalists really wanted to talk about the film. Many of them talked to us about their experience watching the film, how they felt, what touched them. Unless these reporters are better actors than my actors - whose performances many of them noted are downright remarkable - I think there was a very positive vibe in the room. Okay, those warm, homemade mango-cranberry muffins supplied by Nouveau Palais might have softened a few of the crustier types up, but all in all, if this HAD been a speed-dating event, I'm pretty sure we would have got lucky!

Since then, it's been a non-stop sprint toward the first of our many imminent finish lines, the closing night gala screening of our film tomorrow. This "closing" marks our beginning... the first time our film will go out in the world, on its own. In the flurries of February.

I feel nervous and protective and excited. I'm trying very hard to stay "in the moment". Every single one of the many million of them. Wanting to soak all of this goodness, all this newness, up.

There is only ever one "first time". And so far, mine has been ALREADY been all I could hope for - and more....

Happy Birthday, little movie. I love you and wish you, many, many happy (box office) returns.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Swinging Both Ways

In the wake of Arcade Fire's now infamous French/English thank you speech at the Grammys AND the sound mix of the frankly fantastic French version of our film, let me tell you, "Bi" is in, baby!

Okay, time for full disclosure here - I've always been straight. Always liked my movies the old-fashioned way : original, the way the creator intended them. Don't give me any of this foreign monkey business - laying strangers' voices over actor's faces. It's just wrong. And downright unnatural.

Here in Quebec, this kind of thing is a far more common occurrence than many of you living in less "bi-friendly" places may realize. For example, all the big Hollywood films are dubbed into French by local actors so that when Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts or Brad Pitt opens their mouth, someone else's voice and language and even breathing comes out!

Lots of people are fine with that. But for my money, even if the whole movie's in Serbo-Croatian, it's always better to experience the original version with subtitles. That way, even if the specific meaning of their words escapes me, I still hear the actual actors' voices, intonations, colours, subtleties. So I can rest assured that the original intentions of the people on the screen - and behind the scenes - are intact.

Well yesterday, I took a walk on the wild side and have to come clean about something ...

It's actually not so bad once you try it.

But - and this is a big but - it really depends on WHO you try it with.

And as I understand it, ours was not your run-of-the-mill dabble in alternatives. This one was special. Yes, we had a wonderful director and team taking care of us. And yes, we had great actors who specialize in the very particular art of oral filmmaking - the most outstanding of whom is Macha who can actually "dub" herself...

But the final outcome still goes far beyond just a reasonable French "copy" of the original. It is instead, its very own, original "version" of the original. With its very own particular charms and subtleties and delights. The French version of our English film is, in my wide-eyed opinion, every bit as faithful to the creator's intentions as the original.

And like I say, it all depends on who you do "it" with. There's no doubt in my mind that this first experience and the finished product was largely so gratifying and successful because Barbara never once lost sight of the film's essence, never once let go of any step in the process - from the translation to the casting to the performance. Not a single detail. Along with a team that was able to rise to this rather unprecedented challenge, she achieved what could be, and hopefully will still become, the gold standard for this necessary step in our national cinema - creating a living, second language alternative that can stand toe to toe with the original. And offer up its own set of goodies for those in the club.

Dolly has a line in our film that goes something like this: "I don't care if you're black or white. Or both. I don't care if you're gay or straight, bisexual or whatever... Whatever you are, just be that. And be good at it!".

As usual, Dolly has her finger on the right pulse...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

An Offspring is Born!

...or at least, delivered...

Early this week I packed my car with a very small but precious cargo, printed out a Google map and drove very carefully, following many convoluted directions, to a barren building on the side of an industrial freeway just outside of Montreal.

I protected my thin little bundle from the frigid winter winds by holding it under my coat all the way across the vast parking lot. Once we got inside the building, I carefully cradled it in the palm of my hands, transporting it across the lobby, up the stairs and through the doors to a non-descript office, where I personally handed off the MASTER of our soundtrack to the woman who will see that it goes forth and multiplies - into many beautiful, bouncing CD's!

What this all means, is that the OFFICIAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK of The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom featuring Dolly Parton, Nelly Furtado, Martha Wainwright, Coral Egan, The Wailin' Jennys, Geneviève Toupin and Luc Sicard's original score will be obtainable, listenable, available to everyone by February 22nd - four days before the film premieres at Les Rendezvous du cinéma québécois!

The long and completely joyous process of "building" this creation officially came to an end last Sunday night when Luc and I finished the mastering of the album with the mother of all masterers Ryan Morey (check him out at:, he's worked on some of the most groundbreaking indie albums of our time).

And now, in a matter of a few short weeks, it's all going to be out there for the listening... and the talking about.... across the whole country.

Stay tuned here and on the Facebook fan page for exclusive sneak previews of some of the coolest cuts COMING SOON!