mini MUFF Profile: Dominique van Olm
“I’ve always strived to provide an honest and authentic voice in my work, which is innately from a woman’s point of view.”
This month at mini MUFF, we are pairing our feature, When Harry Met Sally, with the fantastic local short film Flower Girl. Flower Girl touches on the difficult transition kids go through when developing their own identities and portrays what it’s like to be a young girl facing the different expectations that come along with growing up. It’s a sweet and touching film that we can’t wait to show everyone this Wednesday — May 18th, 2016 — at Carlton Cinema.
Flower Girl has screened at film festival around the world, including Edmonton International Film Festival, Curta Cinema International Film, Bangladesh International Children’s Film Festival, Maryland Kids Film Festival, Green Bay Film Festival, Brooklyn Girl Film Festival, Shastaland Children’s Film Festival, Living Skies Film Festival (where it won Best Director and Best Narrative), and SPIFFY Film Festival (where it won the Audience Choice Award). Besides its showing at Ryerson University Film Festival, this will be the first time Flower Girl has been seen on a Toronto screen.
Get to know the Toronto-based filmmaker behind Flower Girl: the amazing writer, director, and co-producer, Dominique van Olm.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU GOT INVOLVED WITH FILMMAKING.
Dominique van Olm: I’m a born and raised Calgarian who moved to Toronto for film school. I’ve been here for almost 5 years and although I miss the mountains, I love the big city. I’m a filmmaker because I’ve always been a storyteller — I just happen to siphon the stories that speak to me through a lens, a screen, and an audience. I think it stems from a combination of renting an insane amount of VHS throughout my childhood, doing a lot of theatre as a kid, and convincing my dad to let me use his Sony DV camera to start making videos that starred my friends and family.
It wasn’t until I took a summer film program in Toronto when I was 19 that I realized I could keep making these videos and people would take me seriously, or at least sort of seriously… So, the following September, I sold my car, made the move, and managed to get into Ryerson University’s film program.
For the past year, I’ve been working for a commercial production company in Toronto. It’s opened my eyes to a whole different world of filmmaking and I’ve been lucky to work alongside and learn from some really talented people.
TELL US SOMETHING FUN OR INTERESTING ABOUT FLOWER GIRL.
DVO: I was a Flower Girl and a tomboy — and although it was much less an argument about what I wore or a karate tournament, I still didn’t agree with my mother and the man she wanted to marry. So, it was a really difficult time for me, because there was this role I was expected to take on which I didn’t believe in at all — and how are you supposed to articulate that as a 10 year old? From that, came this film, which ended up being a really positive experience and one which I have been happy to share with audiences from all sorts of backgrounds.
The film was a first time acting experience for all three of the kids, which allowed for a level of flexibility and authenticity that encouraged a lot of close collaboration during the shoot. The two sisters in the film were sisters in real life and had similar dynamics on and off screen. The lead actress, Isabella Maudsley, and I actually have the same birthday, just 10 years apart, so that’s pretty neat.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT SOME/ALL OF THE OTHER AMAZING WOMEN IN FILM WHO WORKED ON THIS SHORT?
DVO: There were some really fantastic women (and men) that worked together to make this film what it is. Two leading ladies in particular were Julia Hendrickson (the cinematographer) and Sara May (the assistant director and a big influence during the script development). Both are incredibly talented in their own rights as artists and filmmakers and I could not imagine creating work without them. We all just finished another short film together at the end of March, in similar roles, which should be ready to watch at the end of the summer.
TELL US ABOUT WHY YOU ARE A FEMINIST AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO YOUR FILMMAKING.
DVO: Feminism is important to filmmaking because I believe that women offer unique voices and viewpoints that are integral to forming a well rounded cultural expression in society. It’s important to have women, as well as anyone who would be considered a minority, as leaders and protagonists both on and off screen so that there is balance, experience and representation in the stories we tell.
I’ve always strived to provide an honest and authentic voice in my work, which is innately from a woman’s point of view. It’s what I know and it makes me happy when I can connect that perspective with others. For Flower Girl, it was really great to hear feedback from so many other women who had gone through similar experiences and were able to connect with Alex’s struggle.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WOMEN WORKING IN THE FILM INDUSTRY?
DVO: Sofia Coppola, Andrea Arnold, Sarah Polley, and Celine Sciamma are a few directors I can think of that have produced films that have inspired me in my own filmmaking and have given me a thing or two to think about.
PUT TOGETHER YOUR DREAM TEAM (WITH YOU IN ONE OF THE ROLES, OBVS!)
DVO: If I went Hollywood, I’d suppose I’d put myself in the writing/directing role, but I’d love to be in some sort of collaboration with one of the women I mentioned above.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE ABOUT FILMMAKING YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN THINKING ABOUT PURSUING CAREERS IN FILM?
DVO: I think what I’ve learned (especially since working in the commercial world) is to work really hard and never stop creating — keep reading, watching, learning, collaborating, and embrace opportunities when they come because it’s all relevant to the way your carve out your own voice as a filmmaker. Most importantly, stay true to yourself and make work you can stand behind, the rest will follow.
IF YOU COULD HOLD ANY GUINNESS WORLD RECORD IN THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
DVO: I might be nearing some sort of record for the amount of black leather ankle boots I own…
WHO IS THE BEST/SUPERIOR BATMAN?
DVO: Michael Keaton — 100%.
WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO JAM?
DVO: Right now, it’s “Wings at the Speed of Sound” and a lot of funk music.
RECOMMEND ONE #MUFFAPPROVED FILM FOR OUR BLOG READERS:
DVO: Must-see would have to be Mustang. It’s a Turkish film that was part of last year’s TIFF and Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Film. Truly a great piece of filmmaking with an amazing female cast and director.
You can keep up to date with Dominique and all her projects at deviio.com.
#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.