Amy Force is a writer, actor, director, and script supervisor. She also works as a professional photographer. She started writing scripts while studying political science as an undergrad and progressed to documentary filmmaking as a graduate student of journalism. Since then Amy has worked as an actor in indie films and commercials, and as a script supervisor. She writes short and feature length screenplays and has recently begun directing her own work.
Photo: Phil Babcock
Who, or what inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Imagery has always been the way my mind expresses itself and the way I have always attempted to make sense of things, though I never had a talent for fine art. I was writing dialogue scenes in my diary as a pre- teen because it was a way for me to play out my emotional and mental realities growing up. Along the way there have been many films, but also photographs, and experimental art that have shaped my inspiration to make movies.
What film can you not live without and why?
It's hard to pick a single film. In general, I would have to say anything in the French new wave genre. There is something about the absurdity and callousness of many of those films that I connect with. They aren't perfect, and I love imperfection. I get my perfectionist out script supervising for others, then I go home and dream away. I fought the left side of my brain for too long, now I realize that exercising it is the key to laying it to rest - The secret to balance. Going back to the films... I like when films are self reflective about being movies. If I could sum it up in a screen grab it would be one I took while watching, Le Weekend. The protagonist stops a passing car and asks the driver in French... "Are you in a film or in reality?" With the English subtitles, it is a perfect still image.
What film do you currently find yourself watching ad nauseam? And what about it keeps bringing you back?
Every single time, Jaws, is on TV my boyfriend and I stop and watch it. My dog is even named Hooper after Richard Dreyfuss. Quint's wartime monologue will still any viewer every single time.
Has a modern film impacted you lately? If so, what film, and how?
Lately, whenever someone asks me about a favourite film from the last few years I keep coming back to, Under the Skin, by Jonathan Glazer. Not only because I've always crushed on Scarlett but also because of the cinematography, the music, the terrifying black floor scenes, the painfully helpless drowning scene by the ocean, and the absence of dialogue towards the end. I love that many of the pedestrians she comes across and even talks to are real people, unaware they were in a film, as well.
Is there a saying, code or decree you live by as a filmmaker?
Sometime last year after feeling like I'd reached a dead end with acting I was standing in my kitchen discussing all of the artistic projects I wanted to give my time and space to instead, to reclaim my artistic autonomy. I said emphatically at one point, I just want to create art and I don't care if a single person ever sees it - I am just going to make something because I like it. I feel like having the confidence to stand behind that passion is the way to creative satisfaction, and who knows, maybe outside success as a by product - But I have to fulfill my incessant need to express first.
What word of filmmaking advice would you give to your younger self?
I am my younger self when it comes to filmmaking. To be honest, I almost turned down this interview because I felt it might be more relevant a few years from now. But, then I remembered my courage.
How do you continue to educate yourself as a filmmaker?
I'm a book nerd so I read about the mechanics of filmmaking. Technique has never been my strong suit in any art form. I also try to make an effort to seek out films by filmmakers that aren't necessarily right at your fingertips. I'm especially drawn to female directors and I want to know more.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as a filmmaker?
Confidence. Since its next to impossible to make a film alone it takes a lot of courage to put forth your vision and ask other people to help you. If you can't trust that your ideas deserve to be brought to fruition then you won't do them justice by asking for help. The first short documentary I made while I was in journalism school I insisted on doing it all by myself. I ran myself into the ground and ended up with pneumonia. I just directed a short film earlier this year, and allowing other artists to lend their vision and talents to my idea was a great lesson in letting go of control but at the same time keeping my integrity.
What’s great about making films in Canada?
I've never worked anywhere else so I can't compare.
What Canadian film inspires you?
There have been quite a few Québécois films that made me proud even though I'm not Québécois and not nationalistic. Recently I saw, Juste la Fin du Monde, by Xavier Dolan and it wrecked me emotionally. There is probably something personal going on there that made it more affecting to me individually, but I loved it.
What do you love about the art of filmmaking and why?
The relationship between film and reality. Films are the ultimate fantasy version of the way we wish our lives were. As an actor or a writer I can take on a version of me I don't get to play in real life. But, on the other hand we all play parts in life too... so the lines can get blurred. We are all actors in our own movie.