Chan­dler Le­vack

National Post (Latest Edition) - - SATURDAY FEATURE -

“I have re­ally bad so­cial anx­i­ety and I don’t know where my busi­ness cards are,” Chan­dler Le­vack con­cedes, a few days be­fore her short film We For­got to Break Up is set to pre­miere at TIFF. She is, she in­sists, “not a good net­worker.” All the schmooz­ing and fawn­ing, all those syco­phan­tic bouts of flat­tery en­demic to the fes­ti­val ex­pe­ri­ence, sim­ply aren’t Le­vack’s forte. “If net­work­ing means just meet­ing like­minded peo­ple or talk­ing to artists who share your pas­sions,” she tells me, “then yes, I plan on net­work­ing. But I don’t have a good el­e­va­tor pitch ready.”

Le­vack is ap­proach­ing the end of what she de­scribes as “a lay­ered emo­tional jour­ney through many dif­fer­ent states of crazi­ness” – the artis­tic process, in other words. It be­gan late last year, when she was awarded a grant to make a film. “There are lay­ers of re­sponses to the news,” she ex­plains. First, it’s ex­cite­ment: “Oh, I got a grant to make a film! That’s never hap­pened to me be­fore!” Then alarm: “Oh, now I have to ac­tu­ally write it and di­rect it! While work­ing full­time! And skip­ping work to go lo­ca­tion scout­ing! You start to re­al­ize just how much you have to do.”

The film was com­pleted in the spring, and Le­vack learned it’d been ac­cepted by TIFF in July. Which ush­ered in the next stage: “You just freak out for the next three months.” Her re­la­tion­ship to the film she made un­der­went its own rad­i­cal changes in that time. “In the be­gin­ning, you love it: you made a movie and it’s in­cred­i­ble that you did. And then you hate it and you think it sucks. Then some­one you re­spect watches it and likes it. Then you ac­cept that maybe it’s ac­tu­ally good.” And, of course, you take some com­fort in the fes­ti­val’s pres­tige: “Hav­ing it play TIFF, in the end, is re­ally val­i­dat­ing.”

Le­vack just has to get through it — net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and all. She re­mem­bers her last at­tempt at the prac­tice. “I’d taken a class in school about how to net­work your way through a fes­ti­val,” she re­calls. “The teacher said that ev­ery­one at TIFF wears black leather jack­ets.” So she bought a black leather jacket and went to an in­dus­try event. Of course it was the hottest day of the year, and Le­vack spent the day sweat­ing through it, look­ing at celebri­ties over her shoul­der. There was Jamie Pressly: was she sup­posed to just go and pitch her script to Jamie Pressly? She didn’t know — she still doesn’t re­ally know — what one is meant to do.

“I’ve def­i­nitely chilled out a lot more since then,” she says with re­lief. “I can go to TIFF and be my­self. I don’t even need my black leather jacket.”

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