From screenwriter to director, Shaun Crawford loves the entire journey

This local filmmaker is making his directing debut at the Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) this month.

By Krista Sylvester | September 7, 2021 |10:01 pm

A scene from local filmmaker Shaun Crawford’s time-travel romance film is part of the Calgary International Film Festival’s Alberta Spotlight Series later this month.

Photo: CIFF // Submitted

Calgary filmmaker Shaun Crawford’s Here & After is being featured in this month’s Calgary International Film Festival’s (CIFF) Alberta Spotlight series, and he couldn’t be more excited to watch his first foray into directing play right here at home. 

“I cannot overstate how fulfilling it is (to be a part of CIFF),” he says, adding he didn’t make the film just to get into film festivals, but it’s definitely a nice bonus. 

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“When we were making the film, I was like, “No, this isn’t why I’m making it, but I hope it can just get into one or two festivals. If you don’t find an audience, it’s a little bit devastating and I would have always felt like the film was a failure.”

A hometown debut. 

Not only did his film get into a festival, it got into the festival of the city where he lives, works and plays. 

“To get in any festival is nice… but if we can get into CIFF, then we can share it with the community, and our whole cast and crew can come here and watch it. And we can show it where we made it. That is the ultimate success,” he adds. 

Although this is the first film with Crawford’s name on the director’s chair, it’s not the first film he’s made. His previous experiences include being the screenwriter on previous CIFF films A Miracle on Christmas Lake and Everfall. 

From screenwriter to director. 

While he juggled the usual challenges of making a film such as managing a small budget, he faced some unexpected challenges, too, of how the script translated to the screen. 

“As a writer, I never followed my own idea through that journey and I was surprised at how differently I viewed the concept (as a director),” he explains. 

“There were certain things that when I was writing the script, I refused to part with. Then when we were shooting, I was just like, this whole page, we don’t even need this, you know. So learning how to adopt that new perspective was definitely a challenge.”

He learned that there were more tools in this filmmaking repertoire to make a film great than just the dialogue. 

“As a writer, I just always felt like writing was the only tool that I had. So I was trying to put everything in the dialogue, but there’s so much the actors can do, there’s so much the camera can do.”

Mistakes to learn from. 

That said, Crawford is the first to admit he made mistakes — but he is also the first to say he can’t wait to get back out there and direct his next film.

“Some of my lessons came too late and I made a lot of mistakes, but that’s how it goes,” he says, adding he is “desperate” to do it again. 

He says he will always be a screenwriter first, that’s his one passion. He’s even written scripts for several other features already since wrapping on Here & After two years ago. 

“I was surprised at how much I enjoyed directing. There’s a place behind the monitor with the headphones on just kind of like watching the scene. It’s a completely singular experience. There’s nothing quite like it,” he says. 

Ready to get back into the director’s chair. 

“I so desperately want to apply the lessons that I learned and make a whole new set of mistakes and then learn from those.” 

This film itself is about a man out on a day pass from an in-patient treatment program who meets a woman who claims to experience life backwards one day at a time. If what she says is true, then it’s not only the first day he is meeting her — it’s also the last time they will see each other. 

The festival, which will run from Sept. 23 to Oct. 3, announced four locally shot features, 11 Alberta shorts and three documentaries earlier this week as part of its Alberta Spotlight.

You can stream or watch Here & After during the festival.

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Krista Sylvester

Managing Editor at Calgary Citizen

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