Sara St Onge’s debut feature film, Molly Maxwell, opens today in Toronto at the Carlton. This is a refreshingly genuine tale about finding oneself without sensationalizing events big or small, but dealing with them in a very real way. A coming of age film that refuses to stick to the stereotypical conventions of a film in this genre. The movie has a fitting cast and it’s paired with an awesome soundtrack.
I had a chance to chat with Sara St. Onge and ask a couple of questions about the film. Here’s how it went down:
How did you get started in film and on your first feature film?
“I started out in photography, but after school I was burnt out on it,” says Sara. She started finding funding to create music videos, which led to short films, all the while working on the script for Molly Maxwell whenever she had the time. “I started in 2008 and would take off time in between paid jobs to work on writing when I could. Once the project was green-lit (through CFC Features) I was able to put all my time and attention into it.”
What made you choose to set the film in Toronto?
Sara smiles and says “I just know the city so well. I’ve been living here eight years now and I had a sort of an imaginary road-map of all the places I wanted to film. Plus, all of the people I wanted to work with were here.” Sara talked about how she knew she wanted to work with Cinematographer Catherine Lutes, as they had previously worked together on a short called “Turkey”.
Did you know which actors you wanted to work with?
“We held a regular casting call and we knew we wanted to pick someone young to play Molly. Definitely someone close to Molly’s age in the film (16).” Sara went on to mention being drawn to Lola Tash’s (Molly) personality and sense of humor. “Charlie was so smart and engaged,” says Sara about Charlie Carrick who plays Ben. She mentions that everyone was so committed to the project and a delight to work with.
“Most of the characters are a mixture of people I know, like Raymond (who plays the high school principal) is loosely based off of the real principle at the school we used for filming.” Sara goes on to say that most of the characters are a “magpie” or hodgepodge of real people that she’s come across and purely fictional characters. The most important thing that she wanted to convey was Molly’s point of view. She wanted to tell a story that wasn’t “black and white” but through the eyes of how Molly would see things.
The music selection for the film is super cool – How did you decide what to add to the soundtrack?
“I wanted people to feel like they were listening to her (Molly’s) ipod…to be a part of her world,” says Sara. She mentions how it was important for her to use a lot of great Canadian music.
Sara also contributed one of her own songs that she wrote for the film “by necessity”. She wanted to fill a mood, but couldn’t find the right track that mixed the emotions that she wanted to portray, so she wrote it and Paul Aucoin (music supervisor) helped her with putting the words to music.
Will there be more feature films to come?
“I hope so!” jokes Sara. There are a couple of other projects in the works for St. Onge, one of which is called Swan Dive, a story about a woman in her late twenties that becomes a step-mother. “… but it’s the opposite of the Julia Roberts’ Step Mom movie,” says Sara. “This is from a real persons perspective.”
If you’re in the Toronto area – check out the screening tonight and tomorrow at The Carlton at 6:45 pm with cast and crew Q&A’s. More information can be found HERE.
Keep an eye out for details on how to watch Molly Maxwell near you, which we will be posting as soon as it’s released.
There’s also a super fun contest, “The Sweaters of Molly Maxwell”, where you can win music, tickets, sweaters from the film and more, just snap a pic of yourself in a stylish oversized sweater and send it in to win.