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Hot Docs 2023: Qs à la mode with… Brittany Farhat (July Talk: Love Lives Here)

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In July Talk: Love Lives Here, director Brittany Farhat traces the Canadian band’s history and follows them as they prepare to stage an outdoor live show in August 2020. We posed our Qs à la mode to Brittany, and here’s what she shared!

If I had to describe my film using only three adjectives, they would be: Vulnerable, thoughtful and rock n’ roll. 

I decided to make this film because: When live in-person concerts were at a complete halt during the summer of 2020, the band July Talk announced two concerts at a drive-in movie theater, in a town that I had never heard of. This was the first time in months that I had seen a show poster circulating around the music scene without cancellation notices on it. Was this too good to be true? As a filmmaker whose identity is largely tied to the Canadian music scene, the news made me feel something that I had never felt before and I knew that I wasn’t alone. As much as I was excited and grateful about seeing a show set to happen in 2020, I was also deeply curious and a bit skeptical about how this was going to work. I knew there was a lot of risk to put on such a show from an outside perspective, but what was happening on the inside? Once I met with the band, I started to realize the weight of this moment in time and how important this show was to not only them, but an entire community of artists and music fans. 

The thing that surprised me most about my film’s subject/topic was: How quickly the band and their creative community embraced me as a human and as an artist, welcoming me as well as my partner, Matthew, who was also working on this film with me, into their lives and creative community. I’ve always felt somewhat like an outsider, but this felt like a space where it was safe to be yourself and embrace your differences.

My favorite moment/scene/sequence in my film is: The intro sequence of the film and how it encapsulates the weight of 2020, and what the band and their creative community was setting out to do during a time that was challenging for the whole entire world. To me, the intro feels like a short film on its own and I think it does a good job transporting you to a time and place while making you question a lot of things. I started crafting the intro very early in the editing process because I wanted to capture the feeling of the time in which we were living through a collage of sound design and cinematography to help set the tone for the rest of the film. 

The most challenging part of making my film was: Simply the scale of it compared to other projects that I’ve worked on in the past, and the fact that I was editing it independently. This is my first feature-length film and it was a massive undertaking from the beginning with no end in sight, but this was a challenge that I knew I could overcome if I stayed focused and connected to the band and the music. 

My most invaluable piece of doc-making gear was/is: An extra portable audio recorder in my bag to place somewhere to capture sound from a distance. There were moments where I couldn’t be close to the band because of social-distancing rules or because I wanted to be in two places at one time. So, I had to make the choice: what was I going to film, and what was I going to capture with audio only? The extra recorder also allowed me to capture a lot of additional on-location audio that proved to be essential when it came to the sound design in the film.

One piece of documentary-filmmaking advice I’d like to share with aspiring documentarians is: Be patient, follow your instincts and listen to your surroundings. There are definitely going to be times where it feels like you’re over-shooting, but it’s important to stay present and commit to what you set out to do. A lot of my editing ideas happen when I’m on location shooting. Whenever there’s a moment of downtime, I write notes or ideas that come to mind for editing. I like to revisit the ideas that I had in the moment when I was shooting and see how I feel about them when I’m at my computer. 


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

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