Margoland: Bringing the Big Nickel to the Big Screen
We recently heard about a new film being created by two fourth year film students at Ryerson University that happens to feature none other than our own hometown! We were able to chat with Margoland’s director and co-writer Sarah Simone, and the film’s co-writer and producer, Sarah Quan, about the story behind Margoland and what it was like to film up north!
Behind the Scenes photo credit: Kevin Huang
Tell us about yourselves! What do you do, and how did you get started in the Canadian film industry?
Sarah Quan: My name is Sarah Quan, and I’m a filmmaker based out of Toronto. I’ve produced a number of short films that have gone on to be featured at various film festivals in the US and Canada, and I also Production coordinate for companies like CBC, Myriad Pictures, Freeform, and the Canadian Film Centre. I started working in the film industry while I was in film school, because the first thing we were told in school was that it would be ridiculously hard to get a job. So, I started early!
Sarah Simone: My name’s Sarah Simone, I’m the co-writer and director of Margoland. Since high school I’ve always had a passion for acting and directing. In grade 12 I had the opportunity to direct my first play which competed in the SEARS Ontario Drama Festival. I was struggling to decide where to move forward with school so I decided to combine my passion for the theatre with my love for the movies. I had never made a film but I loved watching them! I did an extra semester of high school so I could gain co-op experience with Rogers TV and then decided to apply to Ryerson for their Film Studies program. Somehow I got in and since then I just went with the flow and tried not to stop and think too much. Throughout my 4 years I tried to get on as many sets as I could both school and non-school related. Meanwhile in classes I continued directing each year but also pushed myself to try every department in filmmaking: art, assistant directing, audio and finally into camera department and cinematography. I fell in love with camera and now when I’m not directing I work as a 1st or 2nd Assistant Camera.
Can you give our readers a small synopsis about Margoland and its characters?
Margoland is about a 75 year old badass old lady who tries to escape her old folks home in order to get her late wife’s ashes to the Big Nickel in Sudbury in time for their anniversary.
Where did the idea for Margoland come from?
The idea for Margoland existed in Sarah’s mind for over two years and we finally decided it was about time we put pen to paper. Margo was such a rich and fun character we couldn’t not write a story for her.
We love that your film features a strong female lead (and that much of your team was composed of women media makers)! What was it like writing and casting for this character?
Writing Margo was the most fun I’ve ever had writing a character. Imagine getting to say what you want, however you want, when you want it. Since Margo was based so much on Sarah Simone’s imagination (and also herself!) it was so fun to be able to explore her as a character. Margo is fun, hilarious, vulnerable, and the perfect amount of nasty. Casting this character however, was a pretty big challenge. We only had about 15 people come in and audition for the role of Margo. It was really difficult to try and find actors who were of that age range and could really take on the role. It took us awhile to decide but I really think it paid off in the end. We found our Margo in Pam Hyatt, who is a firecracker of a woman. She’s so full of life, and brought a spunkiness to Margo that we never could have imagined.
We love that the film incorporates both Sudbury and Southern Ontario. What was it like getting the opportunity to film up north?
Filming in Sudbury was…cold. But so worth it! I had only been to Sudbury one other time and I had never been to the Big Nickel so it was pretty exciting for us. We couldn’t have done it without the cooperation of Science North who let us film up there. The weather was pretty dicey the day we filmed, so we were just glad we got the shot.
Will we be able to view Margoland anywhere or at any events this summer?
Hopefully! We want to enter it in as many festivals as we can, and we hope to bring it international as well as Canada wide. This isn’t the last you’ll see of Margo!
How can we keep in touch and find out more about Margoland and any of your upcoming projects online?
Margo is on all the socials! You can find her on Twitter and ask her a question @MargolandFilm or you can visit our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MargolandFilm/) for any updates of where the film will be playing as well as exclusive content we’ll be releasing over the coming months.
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