Enter Karina Mariano, BFA (film production) 97, a production coordinator at Hybride and co-founder of the Montreal Underground Film Festival (MUFF), and Alexandra Grimanis, BFA (film production) 97, MA (translation) 16, a translator and filmmaker. Des Lauriers and Mariano became friends in high school, while Mariano and Grimanis met at Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema.
“The way I see it is it’s a film and letter. So it’s a letter to William but it’s also a letter to Julie, from her friends. We thought it would be good to give them a chance to say what’s in their hearts,” says Grimanis who’s co-directing as well as filming the project.
“It was important that this not be a sad thing: she’s here, she’s alive, she’s vibrant and she’s really into doing this. So everyone’s on board, trying to do this really positive thing for her and her son.”
Everyone will be on board at the end of July, when the Montreal production team and friends of Des Lauriers’s from around the world — including Concordia alum Geneviève Tremblay, BA (journalism) 97 — reunite in southwest Ireland, on the Dingle Peninsula, to read their letters and film.
The film is set to cost more than $20,000, which is why the trio decided to start a crowdfunding initiative.
“Even though it’s really important to us, it’s not necessarily the kind of thing the Canada Council gives funding for,” says Grimanis. “We’re thinking of approaching various federal and non-profit organizations for post-production support later on. Julie wants to be able to present the film to the public, so we plan to make one version for audiences and another version for William.”
Filming for the project began last year but plans intensified following Des Lauriers’s most recent treatments.
“Nobody really knows what’s going to happen but we were scared that we’d have to get it done quickly,” says Mariano, who’s managing the production, as well as co-directing it along with Grimanis and Des Lauriers.
“My main role is getting everyone together and sort of representing Julie, in a way, because she didn’t study filmmaking and I know her really well. She’s like family to me.”