Hot Docs 2022: Qs à la mode with… Reed Harkness (Sam Now)

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Director Reed Harkness’s Sam Now took more than 20 years to make, and chronicles the experiences of his younger half-brother as he unravels the mystery of his mother’s sudden disappearance. We posed our Qs à la mode to Reed, and here’s what he shared!

If I had to describe my film using only five adjectives, they would be: “Life-long, mysterious, epic, generational, love-letter-to-family.”

The thing that surprised me most about my film’s subject(s) was: “Seeing my brother grow up and change throughout the 25-year making of the film.”

My favorite moment/scene/sequence in my film is: “Sam standing on a windy, desolate beach in the middle of February 2003. I’m filming on a broken super-8 camera in grainy Tri-X black-and-white film as he makes a phone call that changes everything.”

The toughest part of the whole shoot was: “Being patient. Trying to be a good family member, while at the same time, trying to be a good documentarian.”

My most invaluable piece of doc-making gear was/is: “My heart, if we can count that. With Sam Now, I  tried to throw out filmmaking instincts and aesthetics to go after what was most authentic and necessary to help my family. After shooting this decades-long project and amassing an insane archive of VHS, Mini DV, Super-8, Super16, HD and Arri 4K, my belief is that equipment is the least important thing to making a documentary. I would also be lying if I said I didn’t love camera gear. My favorite camera is my #1 Canon 814 Electronic Super-8 camera, which I got at a flea market in the late ’90s. I’ve shot countless rolls of film through that camera. It’s a good luck charm, and every time I pick it up I feel like I’m greeting an old friend.”

My go-to, get-me-through snack of choice for long shoots or epic editing sessions is: “A couple batches of grandma’s cookies.”

A Hot Docs film I’m excited to see is: “Any of them! They all look amazing. My one-year-old is here with us in Toronto, along with a bunch of the Harkness family, and I haven’t been able to see much yet. I’ve made some good friends though and I can’t wait to see their movies.”

Want to check out Reed’s film or just learn more about it?
Get the scoop, and your tickets, here!


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