When Selkirk College creative writing professor Leesa Dean set out to film a book trailer for her upcoming fiction collection Waiting for the Cyclone, she decided to track down Nelson filmmaker Jonathan Robinson.
“I didn’t need someone to put together the narrative—I’m a writer, that’s my job—but I needed someone who could capture a very specific aesthetic,” she told the Star. “I knew what I wanted was a vintage-y, Miranda July-style short film.”
And after watching Robinson’s Blewett-shot music video for “Junkyard Bettie” by Sofiella Watt and the Huckleberry Bandits, she knew he was the perfect person to bring her characters to life. She met with him this summer to begin discussing logistics, then shot it in August.
“I have no experience with film, so it was really fascinating for me suddenly to be thinking about my book in cinematic terms, which is not something I’d done before. Jonathan brought this texture and movement to the project, a whole new dimension to the story-telling.”
The next step: sourcing the actors.
“One of the people I wanted was Christopher Brach, the guy who ended up sitting on the bench in the opening scene. I knew as soon as I saw him walking down the street: ‘that’s the character from my book’. I wrote that story, I know what that character looks like, and he looks like Christopher Brach.”
She was thrilled he agreed to be involved.
“The fact he was living in the Kootenays was totally serendipitious. He was super busy but I basically hounded him until he agreed to be in it.”
She was similarly thrilled to recruit artist Brittany Barkhouse, actress Heather Gingras, L.V. Rogers teacher Kari Kroker and musician Soniko Waira. Each of them brought different scenes from her stories to life, with Kroker’s character shooting pharmaceuticals while Gingras’ wakes up in bed next to a man who is not her husband.
Once they began shooting in Dean’s house as well as at the Lakeside soccer fields, she marvelled at the filming process.
“Jonathan had these piping tubes, and a skateboard, all these homemade things he used to slide the camera across the bed so it looks so seamless and amazing and professional. It was amazing to realize what you can create with a sheet of plastic and some tubing from the hardware store.”
“Women are too often cast in literature as inherently good and dependable—but this is not the case in the audacious stories of Waiting for the Cyclone,” the video’s caption reads. Though not yet released, the collection has already been receiving positive reviews from such publications as Quill & Quire.
Dean’s Nelson launch will be held at the Royal on Baker on Friday, October 14, with doors around 8 p.m. There will be interactive storytelling, readings and a dance party.
“I think art needs to be celebrated. This is my first book and my role in the writing community so far has been one of being embraced by so many people, and I want this to be a celebration of the finish line.”
In other words: “This is the biggest thing to ever happen to me. If you know me, if you don’t know me, if you like reading and you like dance parties—whatever—come out to the Royal and let’s celebrate creating things we believe in.”