“Into our town the Hangman came, smelling of gold and blood and flame - ” - Maurice Ogden
Q & A
Fear and Loathing in the 20's
During the COVID lockdown, I watched the TV news with an increasing sense of mortal dread: the lynching of George Floyd, the slaughter of the Afzal family in London, the brutal invasion of Ukraine, the misogynistic assaults on the TTC, the culture wars in the US. Fascism is on the rise again and our society seems to be unable to stop it. How does one defend against an enemy that uses fear and resentment to divide and conquer us? This is a question that has preoccupied me a lot in recent years.
how is your story different from Ogden's ?
One important difference is that I gave my protagonist a very compelling reason to be afraid. I did this to assure the audience that fear is a natural part of the human condition. It is not a crime or a sign of moral cowardice. More importantly, I gave my protagonist the power to escape the Hangman's deadly influence.
What special ability does Eshana possess that allows her to escape?
Eshana learns to accept her fear is a normal part of persona. She moves past it by choosing to act out of love and compassion despite the pain she still suffers. This is a skill that was shown to me by a remarkably resilient young woman whose courage and strength of character inspired other stories I have written.
How did you connect with Idowu Okeniyi?
Being new to the Toronto filmmaking scene both Idowu and I happened to be seeking collaborators on the Producers Fixers Facebook forum at the same time. I clicked on the links that he provided to his previous films and fell in love with his work. I reached out to him and presented him with an animatic I had prepared of my conceptual storyboard. He really liked the concept and could see how enthusiastic I was about the project. We found that we both shared a similar philosophy and approach to storytelling - and so we decided to make this movie together.
Why did you choose to portray your lead protagonist as an East Indian woman?
I honestly didn't have a specific demographic in mind when I wrote this character. Talented young poet Pujita Verma happened to be the first cast member I brought on board when I began to develop the story in 2020 so I adapted the character's identity to match her's.
Talent and enthusiasm
When Pujita was forced to leave the project to pursue her career goals, Idowu and I opened the role to other demographics. Out of the many talented applicants who responded to our casting call, Brittany Perera was the one who demonstrated the highest aptitude and enthusiasm for the part. Eshana got to keep her ethnicity and her name.
How many people worked on the film set?
A total of 41 altogether if you include the riggers, the BTS photographers and the paid duty officer we hired to monitor the street scene.
How were you able to fund this project?
I paid for all of it out of my own pocket. Luckily for me, my cast and crew were all willing to work on this passion project for a fraction of their regular salary. Otherwise, I would not have been able to afford all of this incredible talent.
What was the greatest challenge you faced while making this film?
For me it was the lack of sleep. Three of our five production days were 12-hour overnight shoots.