Adam Clarke talks to Jordan Canning about directing, writing the Come Thou Tortoise screenplay, and whether stop-motion eggs are sometimes food.
“That’s a good grape. It’d be really satisfying to squish it,” are the first words I hear from filmmaker Jordan Canning. I’ve set up a game of Grape Escape at Snakes & Lattes, a board game cafe in Toronto, and we’ve made Play Doh grape avatars. It seemed a natural lead-in to her short film about sentient food, Not Over Easy.
Not Over Easy sees Karen (Republic Of Doyle‘s Rachel Wilson), having just kicked out her ex-boyfriend (Aaron Poole), with two eggs: each resembling one half in the relationship. From there, the film offers a glimpse of their relationship as enacted by stop-motion eggs with drawn faces and wiggly arms.
Not Over Easy has the emotional quality of the director’s earlier work, though it is still in the comedic vein of the award-winning Countdown or Canning’s video for “Best Served” by The Pathological Lovers. “Even though they’re all comedies and they’re out there, you’re supposed to relate to them,” she said. “Even the eggs. I think the circumstances are so common that you should be able to relate to them. You got to have real, honest emotion grounding a story, otherwise you’ll forget about it.”
Jordan Canning’s success with shorts and music videos brought her to the Canadian Film Centre to complete another short, Oliver Bump’s Birthday. After its completion, Canning began writing the first draft of her first feature-length film Oddly Flowers, an adaptation of Jessica Grant’s Come Thou Tortoise. “I love shorts, but they take as much energy and brainpower as a feature film,” she said. “I started writing the script for Come Thou Tortoise three days ago,” Canning added, “and I felt like this was the story that I’ve been looking for forever. It’s got so many amazing characters and moments in it.” The director is eager to capture both the universality of the story and the unique voice of its main character, Audrey, whom Canning likens to the titular character of 2001’s Amelie.
In an earlier conversation, Canning described herself as having a “sponge brain” that constantly feeds on influences from cinema, life and music. “Doing the CFC Lab was great for that,” Canning said. “There were 19 of us. 5 writers, 5 producers, 5 directors and 4 editors. It was sponge city. It’s rare when you have the chance to watch other directors work because when you’re directing your own film, you’re the one in charge”.
“I’ll be lucky to keep my sponge brain,” she said with Play Doh grape in hand.