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Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson in Room

Room with a view

March 27, 2016

Sheridan grad Chantelle Kadyschuk inspires alumni to see the bigger picture

The darling of awards season, Oscar-winning film Room gave Sheridan 2011 Media Arts graduate Chantelle Kadyschuk a new perspective on filmmaking. Kadyschuk, the film’s supervising producer, shared her experiences with Sheridan alumni at a special screening at Oakville’s Film.ca Cinemas on February 22.

During a lively 30-minute question and answer period, Kadyschuk fielded questions about casting, financing and her own entry into the film industry, which she credited to a connection she made during an internship at Sheridan: Jensenne Roculan, a producer at Copperheart Entertainment. “I can almost trace all of the good jobs I’ve had back to those connections I’ve made through her,” Kadyschuk told the audience. These days, as the director of business affairs at The No Trace Camping Productions, Kadyschuk gets a bird’s-eye view of the action on set. “What I love about my role is that I’m a part of everything. I get to start from when we option the script, to seeing every draft that comes in, to financing the film, to going to production,” she said. “It’s really rewarding, because I think that a lot of people that are working in film see a little snippet of it, or get involved in just one process of it, which is only really a tip of the iceberg.”

For a film such as Room, there were certainly a lot of moving parts to coordinate, and the journey towards the movie’s 111 award nominations (including nine wins at the recent Canadian Screen Awards) had its challenges and learning opportunities. With a cast and crew spanning two countries, photography and post production, financing for the film and other elements were split between Canada and Ireland. Although principal photography was filmed throughout Etobicoke, Nathan Phillips Square and other GTA locations, most of the film’s action takes place within a small, enclosed area (director Lenny Abrahamson often had to hide out in the bathtub due to space constraints, recalled Kadyschuk).

In addition to the physical limitations of the set, the film’s cast also required Kadyschuk to shift from traditional filmmaking techniques. When an audience member at the screening reminded Kadyschuk of the old film school adage from W.C. Fields to “never work with animals or children”, she laughed and praised Vancouver-born Jacob Tremblay, the child star of the film who was a mere eight years old when filming Room. “It was a crazy and insane thing to do and it could have gone horribly, horribly wrong. We got so lucky,” she said. “Casting his part was really the difference between an Oscar-nominated film and what could have been a Lifetime movie if he wasn’t as strong an actor as he is.”

Having a child actor on set also led to the unexpected bonus of a slightly more leisurely shooting schedule. Due to labour law restrictions on children filming for only a certain number of hours daily, a potential 20 day shoot became 49 days. “Jacob’s in every single scene of the movie. Because of the pace of it, it was actually a really comfortable shoot to work on. Although the content was pretty heavy, at the end of filming, no one felt burnt out,” she said.

For Kadyschuk, the emotional core of the film — with its traumatic, but ultimately uplifting message — reflects a perspective that drew her to the industry and continues to drive her to share this outlook with others. “Film for me has always been art as therapy. Whenever I’m going through something in my life, I always think, ‘What do I want to watch to get me through this? Am I going to watch a comedy to bring my spirits up, or perhaps see something about someone who’s gone through something similar?’” she told the audience. “Film has played such a big role in my life that I knew that I wanted to give back and hopefully work on important films that will help other people with their lives.”

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