KO Feature Amy Darling

(Photo by ALDONA BARUTOWICZ)

Amy Darling is the founder and managing partner of MEDIA DARLING, a boutique Canadian film company specializing in the discovery and support of emerging filmmakers via development, financing, coproduction, and festival strategy. I can’t remember where Amy and I first met, but I remember her infectious energy and all the laughs. 🙂

Darling recently made her break onto the international film scene through her work as a producer on the Norwegian-language Canadian feature VIOLENT, which was shortlisted for La Semaine de la Critique at Cannes in 2014, where it screened as an official selection of the Perspective Canada sidebar. Hailed by The Hollywood Reporter as “hurling a brick for Canadian newcomers”, and selected for TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten, Violent has won over twenty awards to date. While the film screened last week at Knox United Church on October 13th as a part of Calgary Cinematheque’s 10th anniversary season, the film will be released to theatres across the country in the coming months. 

violent dargny still

Currently, Darling is working as executive producer on Paul Hornschemeier’s upcoming animated film Giant Sloth, featuring Academy Award nominee Paul Giamatti, and Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon.

Earlier this year, Amy was selected as one of 10 Canadian producers to present her projects in development at San Sebastian, the largest Spanish language film event in the world. She was also one of 4 Canadian producers selected for the coproduction competition at Los Cabos Film Festival, one of 20 Canadian producers selected for the observer programme at the Berlin Film Festival, and named one of the most noteworthy producers among those selected for the Frontières International Coproduction Market by Screen Daily. 

As an active part of Calgary’s film community, Darling is Vice Chair of Professional Development for the Alberta Media Production Industry Association (AMPIA), Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Calgary Underground Film Festival, and a cofounding board member of the Mental Film Festival. 

Q&A

KO:What is your favourite genre of film? 

AD: I love it all! 

KO: Who is your favorite director? 

AD: Hmmmm, I have a few!

Canada’s own Torill Kove, and Calgary’s own Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis, for short form animation.

Ana Lily Amirpour and Agnieszka Smoczynska have also made some innovative work that blows the doors off what I thought I knew about life.

KO: What is your favorite film? 

AD: JAWS is the best film of all time. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it. 

KO: What is your earliest “film” memory that evoked the feelings inside you? 

AD: I saw a Baz Luhrmann film in my small town multiplex in high school and part of me broke open. 

KO: At what age did you decide you wanted to involve yourself in film?

AD: I grew up obsessively taping movies onto VHS and maintaining a nerdy little family film library, so it’s always just been part of my life. 

KO: How did you start producing films?

AD: A really experienced woman director told me she thought I would make a good producer and asked me to produce one of her innovative short films. Boom. 

KO: Describe the role you play as a producer? 

AD: I enable a director to realize their vision while ensuring that the project is finished on time and under budget. (I ensure that it has a budget in the first place!) Once completed, I take the film to market, help it find its audiences, devise the festival strategy, and manage the sale of the film to interested parties. 

KO: How do you discover new filmmakers? 

AD: I spend a large part of the year travelling and meeting amazing people. They’re everywhere! 

KO: What film genre or filmmaker has influenced you the most in your own practice? 

AD: I am influenced and inspired most by the amazing women in my life who make amazing things happen, gracefully and graciously. 

Women like Judy Gladstone, who as Executive Director of Bravo! FACT greenlit millions of dollars toward the creation of stellar Canadian short films, kickstarting COUNTLESS careers. 

And Kathleen McInnis, who as a strategist and publicist has run some incredible campaigns to propel filmmakers’ careers forward, and who also selects films for the Toronto International Film Festival. 

KO: How has your interest in film evolved since the start of your career? 

AD: In the beginning  I just wanted everything I touched to be beautiful. Now I really care about spreadsheets, to make sure that the beautiful things happen as efficiently and easily as possible. Yes, that’s right — spreadsheets. I took it there. 

KO: What projects are you working on now?

AD: Listen, life is good. Among my projects is a really innovative film by a truly visionary woman filmmaker from Latin America; a developing script with a director who I adore; and… and then… there is another project that I am so honoured to be a part of that I can scarcely believe it. Ask me about that one in a year when I stop weeping with joy. 

KO: Where do you ideally see Media Darling 7 years from now?

AD: Everything is pretty amazing as it stands now. So maybe 7 years from now I will be in a place where I can have a good work/life balance. That seems like the ultimate luxury. 

KO: Where do you see Calgary’s film Industry 7 years from now?

AD: With a few key policy changes, Calgary will be poised for explosive growth. Right now we lose a lot of talented people to other cities, and it doesn’t need to be like this. 

KO: What advice would you give future independent filmmakers? 

AD: Don’t wait around hoping to be discovered. Go out and make your own work. Nobody is going to give you anything. Nobody knows what you want except you, and nobody will be as sorry as you if you don’t get it. Don’t waste time faking until you make it. Just make it. And be nice! 

KO: What is your favourite film festival? 

AD:Every festival has its own unique elements, but for me Sundance remains the ultimate nerd heaven. It’s like an annual family reunion. 

KO: Are you superstitious? 

AD: I am part Greek. So I am SUPERstitious! 🙂

SSENSE

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