Hamish Downie’s Five Questions With Emily Schooley of Laughing Cat Productions

Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…

Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?

Thank you, Hamish, for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all of your hard work.

Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.

TGGeeks: Could you please introduce yourselves to our readers?

Emily Schooley: Hello! I’m Emily Schooley, and I’m a multi-hyphenate creative talent, currently based out of Toronto, Canada. I work primarily as an actor, director, writer, and producer, with projects spanning film, theater, and digital media. My work has screened across North America and internationally, and my films have been honored with awards including “Best LGBT Short” and numerous Audience Choice selections. I’m a full-time freelance creative and often an “army of one” when it comes to getting my original projects made – so I don’t often have a chance to take much downtime! – but outside of work I’m a big sci-fi and horror nerd, I love to garden and go camping, and my partner and I foster rescue cats.

I am also the founder of Laughing Cat Productions, an emerging production company that creates bold and forward-thinking women-led films. To date, we’ve been fortunate to have our work supported and recognized by organizations like Panavision, William F. White, and Canada Council for the Arts, though we can always use more support when it comes to getting our projects made and seen! We’ve got a number of upcoming projects in our pipeline, including: Post Modern Romance – a digital shortform anthology series about non-traditional romantic relationships between queer women, Book of Shadows – a dark fantasy series with hour-length episodes that we’re pitching as ‘a live-action Sailor Moon meets Yellowjackets’, the upcoming short film The Sweetest Goodbye – a film about the MAiD epidemic which is just starting its festival submissions, and Little Motel – a new short film about queerplatonic love, belonging, and wholesome masculinity which is going to camera coming up in the fall. We’ve also got a few feature films in early development, mostly within the horror/thriller genres.

Overall, my body of work as an actor and filmmaker is focused on bringing under-represented characters, voices, and stories to screen, and my hope is that all of the creative work I share with the world will help create a more inclusive and equitable future for us all.

TGG: Could you please tell us about your film in the Gilbert Baker Film Festival?

ES: I’m thrilled to be screening f*** as part of the Gilbert Baker Film Festival! And, just in case the title didn’t already clue you in, the film is meant to be rather subversive and boundary-pushing. Wink.

I made f*** alone in my apartment, during the middle days of Covid lockdowns where it felt like time was starting to drag on infinitely. I’ll say upfront that it’s more of an experimental film, unlike most of the other work I’ve made to date – so don’t expect anything like your typical dramatic short! This was definitely somewhat of a departure from my other projects and overall filmmaking style.

In part, f*** is about all the harmful and frustrating inequities that many of us face in our day to day lives. The film is also a call to action, for us to destroy those harmful ideologies and systems that hold us back in order to make way for something better. You could say that the prolonged time I spent ruminating on many of those inequities is what led to the creation of this film; I’ll also share that the physical act of making this film – from planning to prepping to shooting to editing – became a way for me to alchemize what I was feeling into a form of pure creative expression, something that went beyond the anger and disappointment I was feeling in the moment.

And, as you’ll see, the end result is a strangely beautiful and fascinating 3 minute watch.

Trailer (NSFW Title):

f*** (trailer) from Laughing Cat Productions on Vimeo.

TGG: What was the biggest thing you learned while making the film?

ES: Well… that IS real fire used in the film, and I will cop to the fact that this project was shot entirely in my apartment living room…

Thankfully, nothing went wrong while filming, but I found myself wishing I’d had a second person around and/or more practice with a fire extinguisher (just in case!) … because the flames got bigger than I had anticipated more than once during filming, to the point that I was a little worried about overall safety. That said, I did make sure to have a fire extinguisher nearby during the shoot, and I had a handy bucket of water ready “just in case” – plus a fireproof mitt for handling the crucible. However, I only realized afterward that the shoot could have gone very badly, and this was probably a very stupid thing for me to have done inside my home, despite the precautions I took.

So yeah, I got lucky making this film, and “don’t do the same stupid stuff I did” always seems to be a good lesson to pass on.

TGG: What does Gilbert Baker’s Pride Flag mean to you?

ES: Much as the flag’s design has evolved over the years, I see Gilbert Baker’s Pride Flag as a symbol of queer history that shows how we all can change as needed with the times, both with positive changes as we become more welcoming and inclusive as a society, and as symbolically representative of all of the heavier times throughout our history, where queer folk have needed to somehow adapt in order to survive.

On a lighter note… who doesn’t automatically feel happier when looking at a rainbow? The flag represents queer joy, too, and that is something we always need more of.

TGG: What’s next for you?

ES: So, aside from f*** which is close to finishing off its festival run, I have another short film, The Sweetest Goodbye, that just got finished and is currently being submitted to film festivals as we speak. This is a very timely short film about MAiD (medically assisted dying) and we’re hoping for our world premiere to line up with the upcoming fall festival season, possibly even happening here in Toronto.

Alongside of touring film festivals for the next couple of years with The Sweetest Goodbye, I’m also going to camera in the fall for Little Motel, which is a new short film that touches on themes of love, belonging, acceptance, and wholesome masculinity.

However – we still need to raise another 40K (in Canadian dollars) to be able to film and edit this project at our ideal budget level, which includes paying our cast and crew a true living wage. Thankfully, we already have partial funding support for the film from Canada Council for the Arts, but our current grant funding alone doesn’t cover any of our post-production or distribution costs, and would mean that we could only afford to pay our crews a minimum wage, rather than a living wage.

So… I’ve got some fundraising work ahead of me first, before we can get to camera without me feeling too stressed.

Laughing Cat Productions is also pursuing funding and partnerships for our larger-scale projects as mentioned above, and we are open to chatting with anyone interested in investing in groundbreaking work made “by for and with” a team of talented equity-owed artists.

TGG: How can we best support you? (where can we watch the film, where can we follow you on social media etc.)

ES: Outside of attending Gilbert Baker Film Festival, please help support Laughing Cat Productions’ work with a contribution at: ✨Help Laughing Cat Productions create award-winning short films!✨ | Chuffed | Non-profit charity and social enterprise fundraising – at the time of this interview, we still need to raise $39 725 to reach our full funding goal for Little Motel! You can also find us on social media: @laughingcatproductions on Facebook and Instagram, or @laughingcatprdn on Twitter.

For me personally, I’m findable as @emilyschooley across all social media platforms.
I also run an ongoing Patreon where you can sign up for exclusive behind the scenes updates on my acting and filmmaking projects: Emily Schooley | Actor. Filmmaker. Feminist. Creative alchemist & chaos witch. ✨ | Patreon

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One response to “Hamish Downie’s Five Questions With Emily Schooley of Laughing Cat Productions”

  1. Kay Avatar

    Emily is SUCH an inspiration, and hilarious to boot! Go Emily go!!! I can’t wait to see what she makes next.

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