BROADWAY – It’s funny that a film called “Shhh” could have so much to say, but yet in 11 minutes, the short is able to tell the story of a young boy who overcame his bully simply through imagination.
Former Pictou County resident, Sarah Ann Chisholm, was the line producer for the movie.
Chisholm lived in Broadway until she was 18. She then went to Saint Francis Xavier University and received a natural sciences and engineering research award to work with Dr. John Buckland-Nicks.
She answered a few questions about the film.
Some answers have been edited for length.
Q: How was your experience working on the film?
A: Working on Shhh was an incredible experience. We were all stretching ourselves as artists and it was a real team effort.
Q: As the line producer, what were your responsibilities?
A: My role was to take the vision of the directors and help make it into a reality by looking after the logistics of the production. On a low-budget independent film like this, you take on more responsibilities because you don’t have the budget to hire individual people for every role. Off the top of my head, some of the various tasks included grant writing, revising the budget, location scouting, assisting with auditions, and helping with marketing and promotion during the online release. Basically, you have to be willing to tackle whatever needs to be done to make the film happen.
Whenever we faced rejection or whenever there was a barrier or a setback, we just stayed positive and kept going. Looking back, “Shhh” has become the gift that keeps on giving and has reminded the entire team that if you stay true to the creative process, the art will take on a life of its own.
Q: How did growing up in Pictou County affect you creatively?
A: Growing up in Pictou County had its ups and downs. I was fortunate that my mother put me in music lessons at age five, and that my teachers cast me in various lead roles in school plays/musicals starting at age seven. I’m thankful that my older sister Cara sings, plays piano and continues to inspire me to do what I love and be creative. I’m also glad that I participated in the New Glasgow Music Festival for nine years, thanks to my Aunt Anne taking me there on a number of occasions. That’s where I learned how to be receptive to constructive criticism by being adjudicated.
I can still remember my first singing lesson when I was nine. My mother took me to the late Vivian Brand’s home. I told her I couldn’t sing. She played a note on the piano and said, “Try singing this note.” I gave it a go and she said, “See, you can sing.” I think that was one of the best life lessons I ever had. She taught me that you never know what you are capable of doing unless you try. When she passed away during my last year of
high school, it was really heartbreaking after so many years together. I was very thankful that my other music teacher at the time, Elizabeth Earle, took me onboard and encouraged me to keep singing that year. She taught me that you have to keep going during the bumps in the road. Those lessons, combined with my Dad teaching me to always “complete the task” really helped me to be willing to take risks and follow through to completion.
To pay tribute to my East Coast roots, I even created a character called “Maritime Margaret” and have hosted East Coast/Irish festivities, singing with local
Celtic musicians in Vancouver. I’m recording a Celtic EP right now with hopes to include traditional East Coast music. I’m collaborating with singer/songwriter/producer Murray Yates. Even though I always loved performing in musicals and singing, I never thought I’d be doing things like stepping on stage to sing in the backup choir for Josh Groban and David Foster or line producing a film. It’s surreal.
Choosing to live an authentic, creative life can be an incredible journey despite the ups and downs. It’s certainly not always glamorous and requires a lot of hard work. That’s why it was disappointing when “Shhh” began winning so many awards internationally and in Western Canada, but was rejected by the Atlantic Film Festival. There were two other Atlantic Canadians involved: Josh Cruddas, composer, bts music, and Ghazal
Arefi Afshar, production assistant. It would have been nice to have a screening in Atlantic Canada so that people from back home would be able to see it in a cinema.
Luckily, the film is paving the way for Canadian filmakers by being the first short film to be released theatrically in select Canadian theatres this past year and it’s now available on DVD through the distributor, Indiecan Entertainment Inc., based in Toronto.