A Moment With: Deragh Campbell
One sunny afternoon in early March of last year, we visited the production offices of MDFF to photograph the star of the Canadian-made film Anne at 13 000 Ft. Deragh Campbell stars as Anne, a young woman on the brink. A year and pandemic later, the film finally has its Canadian premiere.
We spoke to Deragh about the Canadian film scene, embodying her characters, and the collaborative effort behind independent cinema.
Working in independent cinema often relies on finding the right people who want to tell similar stories as you do. Being an actor often becomes a collaboration. What kind of structure in that kind of environment do you work best in? What are the challenges?
The director and actor are viewing the scene from the outside and inside, respectively and if there is a trust in what the other person is seeing and experiencing, it can really feel like working together toward something. I think it is interesting that there isn’t one authority on what is authentic, meaningful or impactful but that its built out of these multiple perspectives. I suppose on a good set everyone feels invested and both the successes and failures are shared.
Tell us about how the process of filming began, and how you got involved.
Kaz (director Kazik Radwanski) and I met at the cinematheque and are part of the same community of people that are watching and making films. It didn’t feel like a huge leap from watching films together to making one, more so because we shot a couple days a week on and off for a year and a half, so shooting was really integrated into our daily lives.
How did you prepare for Anne's character?
Anne was really built through the process of shooting. For me, her tragedy is that she wants to be close to people and she really doesn’t know how. She senses that she has made a mistake or caused offence and doesn’t know why and this makes her frightened and gets desperate and aggressive trying to get the feeling of closeness and affection back. It's an impulse that most people have but Anne doesn’t have control over it and this pulled me through the scenes.
Anne skydives in the film, and that sets her character into motion. Tell us about your experience actually skydiving.
What was strange was that I couldn’t fully acknowledge that I was going to skydive until it was happening. Not on the drive to the airport or even when the plane was ascending - it wasn’t until the door of the plane was open and I was being pushed toward it that I had a full physical realization of what was happening and I guess that feeling was horror. This told me something alarming about how we make decisions, like we can’t be totally conscious of the implications in order to just keep moving forward.
How would you describe the films you've done at this point in your career? Your "oeuvre" at this time. What are the commonalities?
I suppose the most immediate commonality is budgetary - with very few exceptions, all the films were made for under $200,000. I like to think that as a result. the film’s premise becomes intertwined with the environments and circumstances they were made in and this gives them an odd shape and a certain density or irreducibility that makes them feel alive.
How would you define your everyday look, and how does that translate to your red carpet style?
I would describe my everyday style as an accumulation haha. Some articles have a lot of thought behind their purchase and others I have no idea where they came from! I’ve learned a lot about clothing from my friend Mara Zigler, the film costume designer, and how a wardrobe can be built in this irreverent/reverent way of following what you’re attracted to. In red carpet looks I like to feel connected to my everyday life by wearing something that isn’t just expensive but is thoughtful and poetic and this has led me to some really beautiful pieces by Jennifer Laflamme of Mifi Mifi and Lee Dekel of 100% Silk.
Who are some of your favourite characters in cinema?
I love performances where the character can’t make themselves entirely understood like Gena Rowland’s in Opening Night or Angela Schanelec’s performances in her own films My Sister’s Good Fortune and Afternoon. You see internal moments as well as outbursts of frustration but the character is never entirely expressed and this makes them very sympathetic to me.
How have you developed your style over the years, and has playing different kinds of characters influenced your aesthetic?
Hmm, well to be perfectly literal, I often keep articles of clothing from a character and bring them into my regular wardrobe. I considered getting a tattoo for a character once - it would have said her boyfriend’s name, ‘Sunshine’. I’ve always wanted a tattoo but any idea derived from my own life felt arbitrary and the idea of getting a tattoo as a character somehow resolved this, like it would really be marking an experience. I’ve always hated the notion of bringing your own life experiences to a character (it takes you out of the place you’re in) but I like the idea that what you experience as a character stays with you.
Photos & Text by Marlowe Granados
Styling by Ryan Doyle