TIFF 2018 Interview: Kayla Lorette

“In my work, I want to create space for myself and other women to feel they can explore complicated emotions and play nuanced and strange characters. I never want to feel restricted in my impulses. I never want to shy away from the darker parts of my mind. Perhaps that’s an obvious thing to say, but being a woman makes that feel political.”

Kayla Lorette in 7A

Do you have what it takes to survive?

7A begins with Claire (Kayla Lorette) filming a video alone in her (gorgeous!) apartment, when there is a knock at the door.

A repairman enters, unexpectedly and a layer of tension is created, only made worse by the too real, uncomfortable nature of Claire. No one enjoys having strangers in their home, especially when they arrive unannounced.

This film feels so normal, an experience we all can relate to — until the sirens. As pink smoke slowly starts to fill the apartment, this is where the real tension begins.

Kayla Lorette is the lead actor and co-writer of 7A, a short film directed by Zack Russell. As a writer, actor and comedian, Lorette has toured extensively through Europe and North America with her comedy duo The Sufferettes. She has starred in two IPF selected web series (Everyone’s Famous and Space Riders) and has been nominated for a Gemini Award and a Canadian Screen Award, most recently for her work in The Second City Project. Lorette is currently working on a new Crave original series New Eden as the co-creator and star.

You can see 7A at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, screening as part of Short Cuts Programme 06 on September 9th at 9:45PM and September 15th at 9:15PM. GET YOUR TICKETS HERE.

Watch the trailer below.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with filmmaking.

Kayla Lorette: My background is mostly in comedy. I’ve been improvising and writing for over a decade. I started working in filmmaking by creating comedic short films and video content for live shows. Compared to the spontaneous and disposable nature of improv, it was amazing to spend time crafting narrative and building a world through images. I think I’ll always do live shows, but the control and set of tools you have to play with in filmed work is thrilling. Plus there aren’t many chances to make money improvising, so…

Tell us about 7A. Where did the idea come from?

KL: Zack Russell and I co-wrote 7A mostly as a challenge to create a short film in a short amount of time. Our previous film, She Stoops to Conquer, had taken us much longer to craft and we were often second guessing ourselves. So we just started with the idea of a woman leaving a camera on while she has an interaction with a stranger and built it out from there.

Why did you choose to frame the story in a dystopian setting?

KL: It wasn’t always our intention. But it slowly became that as a way to have a surreal conflict that the audience wouldn’t expect. While I love dystopian stories, I think this happened pretty organically.

We as viewers are seeing this almost accidentally when the camera is left on. Why did you choose to frame the film in this way?

KL: We liked the idea of playing with a single shot. We knew we could build out tension with this limitation. In the end, we cut it up much more in the edit but it was a fun jumping off point for us. The sense of voyeurism is creepy and satisfying to me.

7A starts off in a mundane way, but as soon as the man enters the apartment there is a layer of tension. Why did you decide to make this story with a man and a woman?

KL: There is an implied risk when you see a woman alone with a strange man. We wanted to explore the audiences expectations of what their interaction might be. You can feel the tension but can’t know for sure what will happen next.

Can you tell us about some/all of the other amazing women who worked on this film?

KL: Hanna Puley was our production designer. I’ve worked with Hanna for years on various projects. She’s an absolute genius. She’s constantly teaching herself new skills. From creating original garments to carpentry, there’s nothing she can’t do. She’s incredibly resourceful and imaginative. It’s wonderful to have so much trust in someone’s taste. I know she’ll always make things look beautiful and original.

Marianna Khoury was one of our producers and our editor. I’ve also worked with Marianna for a long time. I can’t imagine making something without her skills. She has an amazing sense of story. This short had many different forms and every time I watched a cut, I was so impressed with her choices. I always feel safe and seen as an actor knowing Marianna is working on a project.

Tell us about why you are a feminist and why it’s important to your filmmaking.

KL: I’m a feminist because I believe all people deserve dignity and respect. In my work, I want to create space for myself and other women to feel they can explore complicated emotions and play nuanced and strange characters. I never want to feel restricted in my impulses. I never want to shy away from the darker parts of my mind. Perhaps that’s an obvious thing to say, but being a woman makes that feel political.

Who are your favourite women working in the film industry?

KL: I’d like to shout out some local women I’ve worked with. Jordan Canning is an amazing director that is currently working on Baroness Von Sketch Show. I got to be a disgusting space villain for her in Space Riders: Division Earth and I don’t think I’ll ever love a character more.

Erica Genereux Smith is another brilliant director. Her and I have worked on several short films together. She has an incredibly brilliant and dark mind and I always love creating with her.

Jessica Panetta is a make-up artist that constantly blows my mind. The looks she creates are so specific and imaginative. She will always be my first choice when it comes to putting a crew together.

And Catherine Lutes. She was the first female cinematographer I ever worked with and I was blown away with how empowering it felt to have a woman behind the lens. She’s so talented, creating the most beautiful shots with ease and grace.

What’s the best advice about filmmaking you’ve ever received?

KL: Make sure you feed everyone well. We don’t always have the resources to give everyone everything they need, but good food goes a long way.

What are you working on now/next?

KL: I’m working on a show I co-created with my dear friend Evany Rosen called New Eden. It’s a true crime mockumentary about an all female cult in the late 1970’s. The show was sold to CraveTV and I couldn’t be more excited about the subject matter.

What are your three favourite smells?

KL: Jasmine. Lilac. A shit ton of garlic and onion cooking in oil.

If you could live in any sitcom, which one would it be?

KL: I’d love to be one of Murphy Brown’s 93 secretaries.

Finally, recommend one #MUFFApproved film for our blog readers!

KL: A New Leaf. Elaine May directed and starred in this movie and it’s a delight. She’s brilliant and I love her so very much. Elaine May forever!

Follow Kayla Lorette on Twitter and director Zack Russell on Twitter.