Mini MUFF Profile: Simone Smith
Mini MUFF Profile: Simone Smith
Film: WE CAN’T TELL YOU IT’S A SECRET
Lisa here! Many moons ago, my co-producer Richelle and I were having a conversation with good friend and talented director, Nate Wilson. While discussing the recent addition of our Mini MUFF program, we expressed our desire to not only find incredible local female talent, but also to able to pair them perfectly with our chosen features. One of the examples I gave, specifically, was wanting to find a female-edited short to pair with Goodfellas. Nate jumped at the opportunity to gush about the editor on his latest project, Fuck Buddies.
Cut to (ha, get it—editing reference) last October’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival, where Richelle and I are both seeing Fuck Buddies for the first time. We both agree that it is fucking great. (You can see Richelle’s five star review here.)
We reached out to the film’s editor and basically said, “We loved Fuck Buddies and we think you’re great and we’d love to play one of your projects in front of our Goodfellas screening but not a film as long as Fuck Buddies because Goodfellas is already two and half hours long.” She came through in spades.
So, what are we actually screening? Well, it’s a SECRET! But what we’re not keeping secret anymore is the wonderful and talented woman who is bringing us this secret screening: Toronto-based editor, Simone Smith. We’re so excited to unveil this secret screening to the audience that we’ll have this month! This secret won't be revealed in advance so you'll have to be there to find out!
Get to know more about Simone and her work below. Also, if you ever get the chance to watch Fuck Buddies… do it!
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU GOT INVOLVED WITH FILMMAKING.
Simone Smith: I grew up in sleepy, small-town in Ontario, and film was always a nice escape to more exciting places. I was lucky to have a pretty film literate family, and I was exposed to good stuff from a young age. When I was around 12, I had a backyard version of the show Survivor. It was 24 hours, a 4-camera shoot, complete with challenges, tribal council, the whole thing. This was the first project I edited. At one point I took a kid's angry reaction and put it in a different context so it looked like he was mad about something else. That's when the lightbulb went off - the editor can totally play God. That kind of power is a really big deal to a kid.
NORMALLY WE’D ASK YOUR ABOUT THE FILM WE ARE SCREENING, BUT SINCE IT’S A SECRET, TELL US THIS: WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST FUN PROJECT YOU’VE WORKED ON?
SS: 2015 was an exciting year because it was the first time I went out on my own as a freelance editor. I was able to work on a number of diverse and exciting films.
I was editing my demo reel at the start of the year and I realized almost everything I worked on had women crying. Stray Dog was refreshing because it's an all-male cast. While it's great that I've had the chance to work on so many stories featuring women (and it's great that their stories are being told!), it was nice to prove I'm just as capable of helping to tell a man's story. I had a blast working with Mike Mazzuca on this one. We've been friends for a long time, so it's always nice when work feels more like you're just hanging out with your pals.
Benjamin was a rewarding and challenging film. Myself and the director, Sherren Lee, worked tirelessly to shape it. I don't think I've ever had a short with so many different versions, but the work was absolutely worth it. Never Steady, Never Still was another great experience. Kathleen Hepburn, the director, has a no compromise attitude, and it's fun to push yourself to do the best work possible. The feature length of that short is going to camera in February, and I'm looking forward to collaborating with Kathleen again.
TELL US ABOUT WHY YOU ARE A FEMINIST AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO YOUR FILMMAKING.
SS: It's no secret that there's a serious gender imbalance in the film industry. When I was younger and starting out, my tactic was to just "act like a dude". The problem with this is that the implication is behaving in a female way is inherently wrong, or inferior. Feminism is important in filmmaking because we need to break the deep-seated idea that women cannot be competent filmmakers unless they put on a macho façade. A woman should be able to be herself and still have the respect of her peers.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WOMEN WORKING IN THE FILM INDUSTRY?
SS: Ava DuVernay, Sofia Coppola, Julie Delpy, Mia Hansen-Løve, Miranda July, Michelle MacLaren, Gillian Robespierre, Reed Morano, Jill Soloway, Greta Gerwig, Cate Blanchett, Marion Cotillard, Brie Larson, Kathleen Kennedy, Paul Feig (honorary woman), Thelma Schoonmaker.
The late Sally Menke and Dede Allen will always be editing heroes of mine.
IF A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE WAS CAST/CREATED, WHO WOULD STAR AS YOU AND WHAT GENRE WOULD IT BE?
SS: Kate McKinnon playing me (because she could convincingly play literally anybody) in whatever genre you would classify Hackers.
WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE ABOUT FILMMAKING YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED?
SS: It wasn't given to me directly, but from Scorsese to Fincher. I can't find the exact quote but it was something along the lines of, "Your weaknesses are just as important to your style as are your strengths."
WHO IS THE BEST/SUPERIOR BATMAN?
SS: Team Bale! I'm still taken aback when I see trailers for the new one and Affleck's mug pops up.
PUT TOGETHER YOUR DREAM TEAM (WITH YOU IN ONE OF THE ROLES, OBVS!)
SS: Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Miranda July
Director of Photography: Reed Morano
Score by St. Vincent
Cast: Greta Gerwig and Janeane Garofalo
WHAT'S YOUR GO-TO JAM?
SS: An editor friend and I have an ongoing contest to see how many times we can use "Simon Says" by Pharoahe Monch as temp music. It's the perfect music for a party scene.
WHAT MALE POP CULTURE ICON OR MOVIE/TV CHARACTER ARE YOU DREAMING WOULD GET A GENDER-SWAP?
SS: Jerry Seinfeld! We have a lot of female George Constanzas right now, but we need a female comedy "straight man".
RECOMMEND ONE #MUFFAPPROVED FILM FOR OUR BLOG READERS:
SS: Afternoon Delight (dir. Jill Soloway)
The Mini MUFF Society is our short film program. We aim to screen at least one local short film at each of our monthly events. You know, because we have a lot of amazing female talent in Toronto and we want to celebrate it! Learn more here!