TIFF 2019-An Interview With “Volcano” Director/Writer Karen Moore

Kat Harlton

New short film VOLCANO is set to make its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. The film, which stars TIFF ’18 Rising Star Jess Salgueiro (THE BOYS, MOUTHPIECE) and Canadian Screen Award nominated actor Hannah Cheesman (STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, THE DEFINITES), is part of the Short Cuts Programme which features 20 Canadian shorts.

Directed by award-winning TV Writer Karen Moore (WORKIN’ MOMS, MARY KILLS PEOPLE) and produced by Alona Metzer (MARINER, I CAME HERE ALONE), VOLCANO is a razor-sharp two-hander that uncovers the complexity of human relationships as it follows the friendship of Hannah (Hannah Cheesman) and Jess (Jess Salguiero) who meet up a tiki bar, seeing each other for the first time since Hannah’s romantic Mexico trip.

Hannah and Jess have their go-to friend-dynamic: Jess rants about her life, while Hannah plays therapist. Repeat until closing time. But one night, in the warm glow of an over-the-top tiki bar, Hannah challenges that dynamic by going into all kinds of TMI romantic and sexual details about her recent Mexico trip with her longtime boyfriend.

VOLCANO is Karen Moore’s directorial debut and was shot locally on location at The Shameful Tiki Room in Parkdale, Toronto. The film showcases a predominantly female cast and crew, including its director, writer, producer, lead actors, cinematographer, production designer, and gaffer. VOLCANO was produced as part of the Toronto Indie Production (TIP) program with ACTRA Toronto and the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA).

We had the opportunity to chat with Moore about her directorial debut Volcano, what she hopes the audience connects with, and the entertainment industry.

Kat: Can you talk about Volcano and why you felt compelled to write and share this story as your directorial debut? Was there anything that you found particularly challenging?

Karen: I knew I wanted my first film as a director to also be personal – I guess I figured if I’m already opening myself up to the scary notion of directing, I might as well compound that vulnerability by making it autobiographical too. All of that was challenging, but also felt like the right impulse to follow, and now after the fact, I’m obviously happy I did.

Kat: What was your favorite scene to write, and why? (without giving away spoilers)

Karen: I mean, spoiler alert, the film is essentially one big scene! That’s not totally true – it’s split up into three parts – but it’s really all of-a-piece. I would say the first section was my favourite to write because it’s the most fun – things are still light-ish and it’s where all the jokes play before things start to go off the rails.

Kat: What do you hope the audience takes away from the film?

Karen: I hope audiences invest in Jess and Hannah’s friendship and are rooting for them to find a way back to each other. Also, I hope they don’t see the end coming (I don’t think they will but you never know!).

Kat: Do you have any role models or mentors that you look to for inspiration?

Karen: Oh for sure, all kinds. Both people I know personally and role models in the industry like Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Issa Rae. In terms of mentors, Tassie Cameron was the first person to give me the opportunity to write (on Rookie Blue), and I consider all the senior writers on that show to have been important early mentors in my career — shout-outs to Russ Cochrane, Sherry White, and Noelle Carbone.

Kat: Do you have any advice for others who are looking to work in the entertainment industry?

Karen: There are a million ways into the film and television industry – no one has the same path. Most of us try on a few different roles before we find the one we want to pursue, so don’t fret if you aren’t positive which you want to do straight away, but also don’t hesitate to change course if something doesn’t feel like it’s the right fit.

For more information, please visit: www.thisiskarenmoore.com
For screening time/date, please visit:
https://tiff.net/events/volcano

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