Local film draws blood from Paris

When Celia McBride and her sister Clara hit “a blood clash,” the film set fell silent. “Oh, oh, the sisters are fighting,”…

When Celia McBride and her sister Clara hit “a blood clash,” the film set fell silent.

“Oh, oh, the sisters are fighting,” said Clara with a laugh.

But later, on a steamy morning in a local coffee shop, the sisters were in good spirits.

They’d just shot their first film together — Clara directing and Celia acting and producing, as well as having written the script.

“There were moments of elation, and there were meltdowns,” said Celia smiling.

The night when they had all these shots in the car immediately sprang to mind.

The windows kept fogging up and they didn’t have the proper lighting.

That night, the sisters fought.

“And the crew got really quiet,” said Clara. “But 10 minutes later we’d worked it out,” said Celia.

“That’s the great thing about blood dynamics, you have these hard moments, but you also have this ability to communicate when you hit a blood clash.

“You have this ability to say, ‘This is what’s going on with me, what’s going on with you?’”

When funding first came through to shoot the film, Celia immediately called Clara in Paris, where she works as a theatre coach and director.

“I was wondering, why me?” said Clara.

“To make all this effort to ship me over for three weeks. But we do have this very special, trusting relationship.”

“As a producer, I wanted to turn the film over to someone I trust,” added Celia.

“And as an actor I wanted to work with someone I could learn from.”

In film, the director is close to the actors, said Clara.

“You’re the only one there to give them praise, recognition and applause, because there isn’t an audience to give feedback.

“And the crew can’t react to the scene because everyone has to be quiet.

“So I would get this hungry look from the actors.”

The sisters had worked together before, but on a much smaller scale.

Every Christmas, they used to prepare a scene and act it out for their parents.

It was a gift for the family.

“And we worked together so well, we thought, ‘What can we do that is bigger,’” said Celia.

Now, after the short, three-day Yukon shoot, the sisters want to do another film. “Right away,” said Celia.

This was the first film Clara directed, and it was a learning process.

Hindsight is 20/20, she said, after spending a week editing.

In the theatre, it’s all about pacing, talking at a natural speed, sometimes almost on top of the other person, she said.

“So I had the actors do all this overlapping dialogue, and now, in the editing suite I’ve realized it was too fast. You can’t make the necessary cuts.”

If they had more money and time, the sisters would have re-shot some of the scenes. But Clara was heading back to Paris in the morning.

However, the project’s not over.

This short film is like a calling card, said Celia, who hopes to use it to get funding for a full-length feature as early as next year.

An established playwright and actor, Celia has been moving toward film for a long time.

“I knew I was going to end up here,” she said.

“It was just a matter of allowing my path of work to bring me here.”

When they were young, the McBrides lived in the Yukon for several years before moving to Montreal.

So there’s a special Yukon connection, said Clara.

“Ever since I was six, I always dreamed of living in Paris and Whitehorse.”

Clara opted for Paris, and Celia moved back to Whitehorse almost three years ago.

Growing up, Celia and Clara paired off with their other two sisters, but as they got older they became close.

“We spent a summer together in Montreal and came to know each other as people and friends, rather than just sisters,” said Clara.

“And pursuing the same career brought us together as well.

“We have a similar esthetic vision and taste, and that should naturally follow through in what we create ourselves.”

“It’s the McBride sensibility,” said Celia with a grin.