The Indigenous Screen Office celebrates Indigenous filmmakers, producers, writers, directors and more in this series. In ISO Storytellers, you will learn more about the artists who have benefitted from the support of ISO funding.
Alexandra Lazarowich is an award-winning Cree filmmaker from northern Alberta. Her short film Fast Horse was honoured with The Special Jury Prize for Directing at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Her body of work as director and producer include LAKE, Indian Rights for Indian Women, Cree Code Talker and Empty Metal. She is the series producer for the CBC’s multi-award-winning comedy documentary series Still Standing and is one of the co-founders of COUSIN Collective.
Interview with Alexandra
ISO: Describe your project.
Alexandra: My screenplay is called Sweet Home Reservation and it is a feature length romantic comedy that is loosely based on my parents’ love story and my experiences growing up in Northern Alberta.
ISO: Why was it important to you to receive ISO funding?
Alexandra: It was important because it offered me the opportunity to represent Canada at the Sundance Native Lab.
ISO: What is one of your favourite memories from this project?
Alexandra: For me it was the joy, laughter and wisdom we shared online. It can feel lonely writing, especially during a global pandemic but the Native Labs offered a safe space for us to share our stories, our cultures, our worries, our problems, our writer’s block, our fears in a culturally sensitive space. It is an experience I will cherish forever and hopefully soon we will be able to watch the Native Lab fellows movies and TV shows that we workshopped.
ISO: What best practice can you share that you learned from this project?
Alexandra: What makes the Native Lab special and unique is the community it creates. It reminds us that Native stories are important, that our community is thriving, that it is not a competition that we are all rising together. It is such a good reminder to be able to participate with such incredibly talented and diverse Native people from across North America. It reminds you that you are not alone but more importantly you have friends to go to when you need help, feedback or support. Community and the way that the Native Sundance Lab is truly a family, and it is the biggest thing that makes this Lab spectacular.
ISO: If your film or project is finished, where can people see it?
Alexandra: My romantic comedy is still for sale, and hopefully people can see it sometime in the future soon. I mean who doesn’t want to watch a big native romantic comedy!
ISO: What is the biggest takeaway for you by participating in the Native Lab at the Sundance Institute?
Alexandra: One of the biggest takeaways from the Native Lab was getting tangible suggestions on how to break out of a writer’s block or when you are feeling stuck while writing. It was so great listening to our advisors explain their process and how they go about writing, and most importantly continuing to write even when it feels hard. One of our advisors, Kat Candler, said that when we get stuck you basically start writing a list 15-20 ideas of what your characters could say, do, or a choice they have to make usually the first 10 are cliche and awful but when you push to write down more than 10 the better ideas are at the end of the list. It was such a simple solution and creative way to not get stuck but it really helped. I think sometimes our creative brains get lazy as you write, your brain wants to take the path of least resistance to just get it done but if you push a little further the ideas that flow will change your writing and your story.
ISO: Please add anything you’d like that we didn’t ask.
Alexandra: Huge thank you to the ISO for this incredible opportunity!