Trolls

There comes a time in every kid’s life when they realize their parents are up to more than just ‘cleaning’ their room.

For nine-year-old Billy, this discovery comes with the help of his know-it-all younger cousin, Genevieve. When she explains the rules and points system of the adults-only game, Billy and Genevieve start calculating their own points.

Creative team

Writer/director/producer: Brianne Nord-Stewart
Co-producer: Kailey Carruthers

Filmmaker’s statement

Trolls was shot in the first week of January 2009. It was the beginning of my last semester of university. I had just moved back to Canada from a year abroad in Australia attending an exchange program at Victoria College of the Arts.

I remember I had been fighting for everything. I had to fight (and apply twice) to get into the school in Australia. I had to fight with my home institution to stay an unprecedented extra semester (which had never been done before or since). I had to fight to shoot in January after I returned because a rough cut was required by December. I was fighting the clock to raise money from family and friends so I could rent a RED camera and fly out a DOP from Edmonton (who was the only one I trusted).

I was fortunate that all of the above worked out in my favour.

And of course there was trouble in domestic paradise and immediately after wrapping production I went from girlfriend to a single, stressed out, university senior who dropped 13 pounds but had footage for the greatest film of all time in my hands. 

Well, I wanted it to be the greatest film of all time, and that was the bar I set for myself. That’s also around the time I started noticing my first grey hairs.

I worked hard submitting and promoting Trolls to all the film festivals I could find. I wanted it to succeed and I knew I loved the final film. But don’t all filmmakers think they have something special?

Even still, looking back, I really was quite lucky. Lucky that I was able to attend a festival in Montreal where a programmer for a broadcaster in France suggested I submit to Clermont-Ferrand: the biggest short film festival in the world. Lucky that my little film fit their theme that year and was one of 70-something shorts selected for international competition. Lucky that my reality TV show boss allowed me to take 12 days off to attend the festival. Lucky that I even had a job in the industry. Lucky that I received travel funding to attend. Lucky that a distributor fought to represent the film, and made numerous sales.

Almost 100% of the crew on Trolls have blossoming film careers of their own.

Director of photography Andrew Scholotiuk has produced and shot numerous features and TV pilots; first camera assistant Benjamin Loeb is a highly sought after director of photography himself now. He’s flown all over the world and is hired for everything from multi-million dollar commercials, TV shows, music videos and occasionally a short film or two.

Grip Kevan Funk has been in the TIFF top 10 a couple of times and is definitely a talented emerging writer/director to watch for; gaffer Dustin Wadsworth is living and working in New York as a writer, director and picture editor for too many projects to mention; second camera assistant Christina Ladwig is the co-founder of Gene Doe, a fashion filmmaking company, now based in New York.

Both of our sound crew members are pursuing musical and sound projects: Corey Poluk in the Vancouver based music groups The Ballantynes and The Valuables, and Riel McGuire is producing films with his company Black Mirror and working as a DJ.

Co-producer Kailey Carruthers has been living and working in New Zealand the last four years as the social media manager for a Wellington based cinema, the New Zealand International Film Festival, and reviewing films for the Cinematica Podcast.

Make-up artist Suzie Klimack who, at the time, was still studying has worked on numerous TV series, features and pilots, currently works for the country’s leading SFX shop, Schminken Studio.

Our award-winning young actors, Dawson Dunbar, Sierra Pitkin and Jack Weatherbe are still working in the industry and making movies.

A month before production, I hadn’t even met half the crew, hadn’t cast the film, didn’t have a location and was probably making last-minute rewrites. Actually I believe seven year old Sierra told me in rehearsal, ‘Boy you sure do change your mind a lot on what you want me to say!’

The pieces all fell into place better than I could ever have imagined. I was lucky to find the crew before they all made their own successful creative leaps. I was lucky to find such a wonderful cast with amazing parents who have continued to support the film, and my other projects.

Trolls is a great film. It’s been five years since I shot it. It’s frightening to look back on and see how much time has passed, but it’s wonderful to see how it hasn’t lost its appeal.

A few of the questions I often get asked:

Q: What camera did you shoot on?
A: The RED One Camera with prime lenses.

Q: How did you find those actors? They are amazing!
A: Through Casting Workbook. I sent a call out to all the agents in town. Dawson was in an acting class with Sierra and she recommended him.

Q: What did their parents think about them saying ‘boner’ and ‘oral sex’?
A: These kids are pros, as are their parents. Each approached it differently I’m sure, but from what I know, with the terms that the kids didn’t know, they asked their parents about them and they got a straight answer.

Q: What was it like working with kids?
A: This group of kids (now teens) are a pleasure. On set, Sierra was really full of energy, as I’m sure you can imagine, and Dawson was very chill. They took care of each other. Sierra full of energy, and Dawson making sure she was on her mark when the cameras rolled. Jack, who plays Dylan the older kid, basically came in for a few hours on his day, bing bang boom, like a pro, done and gone. All three were nominated for Young Artists Awards and we all went to Los Angeles for the ceremony.”

About Brianne Nord-Stewart

Brianne Nord-Stewart

Brianne Nord-Stewart writes, directs, edits and produces films, web series and music videos.

While obtaining her bachelor of media arts from Emily Carr University (2009), Brianne realized her proclivity in exploring perspective as a human condition, with specific regard to taboo. She’s interested in tapping into the framework of fragmented memory and loss of innocence.

Brianne gained international recognition on the festival circuit with her multi-award-winning short film, Trolls, which got an honorable mention at the Academy Accredited™ Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival. Her short film, The Provider (2011) also won multiple awards. Brianne received the Legacy Filmworks Award (2012) and the Shaw Media Fearless Female Director Award from NSI (2013).

Brianne hands out uncomfortably honest questions and opinions in her everyday life, and has been known to host a living-room dance party or two. Otherwise, she can be found winning limbo competitions on Croatian islands, hitchhiking in places she shouldn’t and networking herself into a tizzy.

She was accepted into the 2014 Women in the Director’s Chair Workshop.

 

2 comments

  1. Chris

    Very enjoyable!

  2. Pingback: The comedic short, “Trolls” Finally available for streaming online! | Brianne Nord-Stewart

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