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  • FIN 2018: From the orchard to the big screen, filming in ‘one of the most beautiful places on earth’

FIN 2018: From the orchard to the big screen, filming in ‘one of the most beautiful places on earth’

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The 2018 FIN Atlantic International Film Festival is an eight-day celebration of film, media and music from around the world. Kicking off the festival is the film Splinters, directed by Halifax’s own Thom Fitzgerald.

Thom Fitzgerald has a long history with FIN Atlantic International Film Festival: his 1997 film The Hanging Garden won the Audience Award, the Best Canadian Film Award and Best Direction Award. The Wild Dogs (2002) won Best Canadian Film and Best Direction, The Event (2003) and 3 Needles (2005) both won Best Direction prizes and his most recent film Cloudburst (2011) won the Audience Award.

Splinters, based on a play written by Nova Scotian Lee-Ann Poole, is a story of small towns, secrecy, and coming of age. We sat down with Thom Fitzgerald to learn more about the film, shooting in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, and what it’s like to premiere at an opening night gala.

Q: We want to know – what drew you to this play? Why is now the right time to bring it to film?

A: I saw the play Splinters in 2010 at the Plutonium Playhouse and I really was attracted to its themes and how forward-thinking it was about sexual identity at the time. And those ideas about sexual fluidity have become much more mainstream in this decade and I felt that the time was right to take it into a film adaptation. It’s basically a coming out story, it’s a coming of age story, it’s a mother and daughter story, but it’s all just very up-to-date – very contemporary.

Q: What was special about shooting in the Annapolis Valley?

A: What’s special about shooting in the Annapolis Valley is simply that I love it! It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth and I was really happy, actually to have a chance to show the world the beauty of that part of Nova Scotia. And it’s not just landscapes. It’s also the people and the way that they live their lives. The pacing of the film and the colours of the film, that all reflects what it means, I think, to be a resident of the Annapolis Valley.

Interested in filming in Nova Scotia? Contact Screen Nova Scotia.

Q: What did you and the crew do in your limited downtime during the filming?

A: I think that the experience of shooting a lot in an apple orchard was really a beautiful gift for everyone, because what do you do between shots? Well, you probably rest in the shade of an apple tree. To be in such a serene environment, is an incredible professional experience. I mean, we could really just let the stresses of the day evaporate with the beautiful smell of the sweetness of apples in the air all the time. The valley has more than just apple orchards, but I think it’s essential nature too – whether it’s the sea or the crops, it’s the kind of place where you feel your environment a lot more than in a studio, for example.

"It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth and I was really happy, actually to have a chance to show the world the beauty of that part of Nova Scotia."

- Award-winning Halifax filmmaker and director, Thom Fitzgerald

Q: Splinters is very much a mother and daughter story – tell us more about the relationship between Nancy and Belle.

A: Nancy’s having trouble navigating her daughter’s evolving identity, because Nancy’s a 50-something year old woman and her ideas about sexuality are somewhat fixed. She doesn’t have comfort with the idea of a fluid sexual identity that her daughter is exploring. So, every time she gets used to what her daughter is, she’s fed new information and it generally throws her off. And so that’s really just about a generation gap that I think is worldwide. The idea that people used to come out of the closet and that was that. And nowadays the ideas of sexuality aren’t so fixed as they used to be.

Q: What will the premiere in Halifax look like?

A: It’s going to be a great big premiere at the Rebecca Cohen Auditorium and a big party for about a thousand people, so that’ll be fun! It should be a very festive festival.

Whether your film or television project requires urban sophistication, small town ambiance, or miles of unspoiled coastline, Nova Scotia has it all. Nova Scotia has been an in-demand location for regional and international filmmakers for decades. To learn more, connect with the industry's association, Screen Nova Scotia.

Splinters premiered in Nova Scotia at the 2018 FIN Atlantic International Film Festival and was supported through the Nova Scotia Film & Television Production Incentive Fund.