mini MUFF Profile: Amanda Row
“It’s a brutal industry! It takes a combination of guts and perseverance, with a smattering of healthy delusion to succeed.”
This month, MUFF is doing something a little different with mini MUFF. Not only do we have SIX short films to show you, but we’ve also expanded our usual local fare to include selections from every corner of Canada! Teaming up with Etheria Film Night for this event, we used our combined programming expertise to find the darkest, creepiest, and bloodiest in Canadian women-directed horror.
Second up: Mitten is the story of a man who finds a bloodied mitten in the woods and begins a paranoid search for its owner.
Mitten has screened at the Dead By Dawn Horror Film Festival, Calgary Horror Con Film Festival, Bram Stoker International Film Festival, and several other festivals around the world.
Toronto-based filmmaker Amanda Row has been directing her own films since she was 10 years old and graduated Ryerson University’s Film Studies program in 2011. In 2013, Mitten grabbed the attention of producers on the Emmy Award winning Netflix original series Hemlock Grove and Amanda was hired to direct a series of “nightmares” that spanned the entire second season. In 2015, she was brought on to direct the “murder visions” for season one of Fox’s Minority Report series. Currently, Amanda is developing a horror feature as well as an original horror anthology web series which will be released in October 2016.
Get to know more about Amanda Row and her short film Mitten!
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU GOT INVOLVED WITH FILMMAKING.
Amanda Row: I was born and raised in Toronto by a couple of cool artist-type parents and flanked by two artist-type siblings. I saw the movie Titanic when I was 10 years old and decided I’d like to be James Cameron. Since that fateful day, I have spent the better part of my life working towards making movies. I graduated from Ryerson University’s Film Production program in 2011 and proceeded to make dozens of short films, music videos, and commercials before I finally broke into television in 2013, directing a special “nightmare unit” on Netflix’s Hemlock Grove, which lead to various other weirdly specific opportunities in television — most recently directing a special “murder vision unit” on Spielberg’s Minority Report series. It’s a weird niche, but I’ll take it.
TELL US SOMETHING FUN OR INTERESTING ABOUT MITTEN.
AR: Barring the favours paid to me by my wondrous volunteer crew and the camera and lenses loaned to me, this film cost a total of $53 to make and was shot in an afternoon in a park by my house.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT SOME/ALL OF THE OTHER AMAZING WOMEN IN FILM WHO WORKED ON THIS SHORT?
AR: Unfortunately, due to the fact that my crew consisted of 5 people, this particular short didn’t feature many females in key roles. But, I have to send a big shout-out to Tara Brawley, the talented make-up artist who created the hand, and Abbee Fernandez, who patiently waited under a pile of leaves, swarmed by late summer mosquitos and managed to convincingly play dead despite the chaos (not a small feat!).
TELL US ABOUT WHY YOU ARE A FEMINIST AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO YOUR FILMMAKING.
AR: Simply put, I’m a feminist because I believe in equal rights for men and women. I grew up with amazing parents who never let me feel I could do any less because I was a woman. When I told my Dad I wanted to be a director he saved up money and bought a camcorder. He never expressed any sort of concern that I might be entering a world not ready for me. I grew up in such an isolated little bubble that I didn’t even realize there was a disparity between male and female directors until I was in 2nd year university and an angry teacher expressed the injustices we were bound to face as women in film. But, I continued forth anyway, convinced she was caught up in the past.
However, after working in film for almost 6 years now, the unfair treatment is undeniable. It’s the little tiny things — like when people are surprised I know how to do my job, or call me “honey” or “sweetie” on set, or assume I don’t know anything about shooting action, or how I have to quadruple prove myself to get the same opportunities as my male counterparts–these little tiny, oft-times well-meaning instances slowly chip away at one’s spirit and as long as it keeps happening, young women will never reach their full potential.
It’s important to my filmmaking because I need it to continue making films! It’s important because my voice is valid and so are the voices of so many other women who haven’t been heard for thousands of years. Cinema is just over 100 years old, it’s high time we start exploring new visions.
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WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WOMEN WORKING IN THE FILM INDUSTRY?
AR: I keep this list on my phone for inspiration and add to it regularly, so I’m just going to copy and paste it! Note: not all these people are still alive (in the flesh and blood sense):
Shonda Rhimes, Lexi Alexander, Kathleen Kennedy, Pam Grier, Laverne Cox, Mary Harron, Debra Hill, Antonia Bird, Betty White, Juliette Lewis, Penny Marshall, Thelma Schoonmaker, Edith Head, Dorothy Parker, Rose McGowan, Goldie Hawn, Tina Fey, Lisa Simpson, Dolly Parton, Dorothy Arzner, Jane Goldman, Jenny Beavan, Tina Turner.
PUT TOGETHER YOUR DREAM TEAM (WITH YOU IN ONE OF THE ROLES, OBVS!)
AR: Director: ME
Writer: Jane Goldman
Production Designer: Richard Raaphorst
Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE ABOUT FILMMAKING YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN THINKING ABOUT PURSUING CAREERS IN FILM?
AR: “Don’t pursue a career in film unless you feel like your life depends on it.”
It’s a brutal industry! It takes a combination of guts and perseverance, with a smattering of healthy delusion to succeed. But if you know you have that then go for it! Full speed ahead!
The best advice I can give a woman is the same advice I try to give myself everyday: if you work your butt off, and continue to develop your craft relentlessly, eventually you will be undeniably good at what you do and you’ll have the creative freedom you fantasize about.
More practical advice: Know your lenses. Learn to use a camera. Absorb as much information as you can and be an expert. Unfortunately, even in today’s social climate, you can’t give anyone any reason to doubt you. It’s harder for us, but women are the toughest, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do!
IF A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE WAS CAST/CREATED, WHO WOULD STAR AS YOU AND WHAT GENRE WOULD IT BE?
AR: My best friend Filip said he would cast Wanda Sykes as me in a comedy/horror/musical about my life. I sort of see what he means. I’ll add that I would like my co-star to be the teenaged boy dinosaur from that weird 90’s shows Dinosaurs.
IF YOU COULD HOLD ANY GUINNESS WORLD RECORD IN THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
AR: Being the chillest.
WHO IS THE BEST/SUPERIOR BATMAN?
AR: Kevin Conroy
WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO JAM?
AR: I would say my tastes are pretty eclectic but I tend to stick to music recorded pre-2000.
But mostly the Shrek soundtrack.
WHAT MALE MOVIE/TV CHARACTER ARE YOU DREAMING WOULD GET A GENDER-SWAP?
AR: Captain Nemo!
RECOMMEND ONE #MUFFAPPROVED FILM FOR OUR BLOG READERS:
AR: Ravenous (dir. Antonia Bird)
#miniMUFF is our short film program to celebrate local female talent. We do so by screening a short film before our monthly features and highlighting the filmmaker on our blog. Learn more here. Read past mini MUFF profiles here.