by Jordan Parker
Special to Wreckhouse Press Incorporated
In the midst of a global pandemic, filmmaker Monica Kidd has created a short film that people can connect to.
The Storm – an official FIN: Atlantic International Film Festival selection and current St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival entry – tells the story of children being born into the world in these tumultuous times.
“I was looking at the delivery of babies, and the uncertainty that was coming with that,” said Kidd, who is also a physician. “I have three small kids, and we were sitting watching the news all day, wondering what was happening in the world.”
It was National Film Board producer Annette Clark who approached Kidd, asking her to consider these themes around the pandemic.
“Frankly, I never would have had the material or this opportunity with the NFB if not for this pandemic. They wanted to make films despite not being able to have big crews,” said Kidd.
NFB launched The Curve, a program that took films created during the pandemic that covered themes of isolation and uncertainty, and allowed filmmakers to have an outlet to express their thoughts on the pandemic.
“They asked us to basically use what we had within our grasp to make films. There wasn’t a whole lot of gear, and there were no big teams,” she said. “Films were meant to be homemade, and continue to tell the stories of Canadians during all of this. The pandemic both gave me the opportunity and the content.”
It was important for Kidd to tell the important stories of those having birth.
“We had to honour the experiences of the women going through these things. Women who had children during this time were launched into a journey they didn’t sign up for,” she said.
“To sit with them, try to help them through things and not know the answers myself was difficult. There is an entire generation of children born at this time. I wanted to find a way to discuss that.”
She teamed up with the NFB’s Duncan Major, and they brought the film to new heights by deciding to use animation.
“It was so exciting, and I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s such a tender-hearted, competent human, and he also happens to be an incredible artist,” she said.
The script was written, and they went through a number of treatment ideas before they settled on animation.
“It was just the most practical thing at the time also. I wasn’t prepared to bring cameras to a hospital or ask anyone to be on camera at that time,” said Kidd. “I wanted the story to be more abstract. The NFB has a long legacy of making great animated shorts, and the whole experience was a bright light during a difficult time. It was a gift to make this and work with this team.”
Kidd has made short films before, but they would normally be done in the bedroom on her personal computer. She had never been a part of something like this.
“I’d never had a team, infrastructure and that kind of budget. I’m looking back at my meagre filmography, and I’ve shown films at the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival before, but it’s been a long time,” she said. “I’d forgotten about that chapter of my life, and it’s nice to be in touch with it again.”
She said doing this film through a pandemic “felt like an expedition.”
“You realize the resilience of artists, their creativity, and you puzzle your way through problems. It can be really complex and uncertain, and then you add a pandemic on top. To get across the finish line was a major achievement.”
“I’m so proud that I found a way to make art, and that this community found new ways to collaborate. You lose a lot when you’re not face-to-face, but the world can ask difficult things of us, and it’s encouraging to see others find ways through as well.”