All-female crew for Toronto film Below Her Mouth...
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Dec 10, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

All-female crew for Toronto film Below Her Mouth making movie history

Indie romantic drama Below Her Mouth is believed to be the first Canadian feature made with an all-female crew


Not long into shooting indie romantic drama Below Her Mouth in a Toronto house last fall, producer Melissa Coghlan walked into the bathroom and noticed something didn’t look right.

“Oh my gosh, somebody left the toilet seat up,” she recalled thinking.

That’s hardly odd in the traditionally male-dominated technical side of filmmaking. But this workplace was believed to be a Canadian first: an all-female crew. From director April Mullen to the camera, lighting, production designer, editor and “best boy” assistants, everybody on the set was a woman.

Except for actor Sebastian Pigott.

Starring Natalie Krill as Jasmine and Swedish gender-bending model Erika Linder as Dallas, Below Her Mouth, is the story of two Toronto women who meet by chance and quickly become caught up in a passionate love affair that changes both their lives.

Pigott plays Jasmine’s fiancée, Rile.

The provocative title reflects “unintentional intentional ambiguity,” says first-time screenwriter Stephanie Fabrizi. Like Dallas, she’s worked as a roofer, getting up early to work on the script, roofing on a crew with her father’s company in the afternoon.

“I’m just hoping the world is ready for this story,” said Fabrizi. “It’s brave and it’s bold and it’s told in away that I believe is unconventional.”

If the story is unconventional, so is the way it’s being told.

The Serendipity Point Films production is Coghlan’s first feature — she previously worked on TV shows and produced the documentary Amerika Idol. And she knew from the outset she needed to hire a female director.

“There’s a lot of intimacy in the film. The sex scenes are very bold and very daring and they require a lot from the two actors,” Coghlan explained, adding “it felt like a natural thing to have a woman director.”

She was familiar with Mullen, who directed genre films Dead Before Dawn 3D and 88 and admired how she’d made movies with “a high-quality visual esthetic” on a similarly modest budget.

Once Mullen came on board, she and Coghlan decided they wanted a female cinematographer (Maya Bankovic) and female boom operators handling sound and it just grew from there. It was challenging to build the crew, said Mullen, but once the word got out about the project, there was plenty of interest.

It may be easier to create all-female crews in the future as more females enter the field. Amid reports that show women in the U.S. and Canada are still woefully under-represented behind the camera, Humber’s Film and Television Production courses are now equally split male-to-female.

“I am very proud to say half of our major third-year projects are being shot and lit by women and we have made a very substantial commitment to women coming into the program that they will be encouraged to go into any area they are interested in,” said Humber program co-ordinator Michael Glassbourg.

Every crew she works with has its own vibe, said Mullen, “but I realized within the first hour of shooting this was going to be a different experience.”

There was a feeling of community on the set, “a really gentle experience,” she said.

Because most movies are made by men, “love scenes and relationships between women are always depicted in cinema through the eyes of a man,” Mullen explained.

She wanted to change that by shooting “a true, honest, simple female perspective of what women do together … and what people do when they are falling in love through the eyes of a woman.”

Coghlan said early on she was asked why she didn’t hire the best people for the jobs.

“My answer to that is we did hire the best people,” said Coghlan.

Quoting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mullen added, “because it’s 2015.”

Toronto Star

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