An Interview with Filmmaker Spencer Zimmerman

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Still in his early 20s, Spencer Zimmerman is a filmmaker from Saskatoon and his short film EMILY premiered at the Regina International Film Festival in August. During the waning days of summer, Refined sat down with Spencer to talk about his film and his career so far.

How did you become interested in filmmaking?

My father is a film buff and so I connected with movies at a pretty young age. The Good, the Bad and The Ugly is still a big favourite of ours. In Grade 11, I took a school semester at Evan Hardy Collegiate that focused completely on film. It was cool and a great time; people I met in that program are still my friends and colleagues today. Right now, I’m halfway through my Bachelor of Motion Picture Arts degree at Capilano University in North Vancouver. I’m also applying to other North American film festivals in the student film category for EMILY.

Tell us about your short film.

EMILY explores the violence in a young couple’s relationship as it boils over in public. My mother is a social worker here in the city, so I grew up hearing stories about domestic violence situations. The film deals with how the dynamics of control, intimidation and fear characterize this sort of violence. This type of situation transcends statistics and gender, but I thought it was the most efficient way of storytelling to use a young male and female couple. Delphine Menu and Kevin Trumble are the actors who star in the film and they are both amazing.

What other films of yours would we recognize?

I was the writer and director of Der Jude (2018) and the cinematographer and editor of The Tipping Point (2017). Aesthetics are very important to me, so the cinematographer role was a good fit, but the director’s seat is where I’m most at home. A film director should know how to do everything on a film set. The director sets the tone and needs to create an atmosphere of mutual respect, so I want to be able to buckle down and help, whether that’s as a lamp operator or a key grip.

In 2012, the Saskatchewan film employment tax credit was cut. What are your thoughts?

I feel strongly that we need to bring back the tax credit back to Saskatchewan! We need to take a page out of Manitoba’s book in encouraging the film industry and film production in our province.

Who are your favourite film directors?

Right now, my favourites are Ari Aster, and his films Midsommar and Hereditary are must-sees. The Canadians Jean-Marc Vallée and Denis Villeneuve are also favourites of mine. Villeneuve’s Polytechnic is about the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal. Yorgos Lanthimos is directing some interesting films too, like The Favourite and The Lobster.

What’s next for you?

I would like to tell a Saskatchewan story in the future.