Why does ‘Little Red Riding hood’ give Jamie nightmares? It’s been 15 years, and the girl in the hallway haunts him still. This is a testament to locked doors. A lullaby sung by wolves with duct tape and polaroids. Not all girls make it out of the forest. Some stories children shouldn’t hear.
Valerie Barnhart is an independent animator and visual artist based out of Ottawa, Canada. Her interdisciplinary practice is exploratory in nature but revolves specifically around the dynamics of silence and inaction as a form of violence.
Valerie’s background in book arts and photography led her to study at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design with a major in Visual Arts: a studio specialty in Printmaking and Drawing and an academic emphasis in Decolonization Politics and Non Western Art. In Valerie’s 3rd year, she was sent on exchange to Willem de Kooning Academie Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. There she explored stone lithography, architecture, and trend watching. Upon completion of her degree, Valerie exhibited in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and Lima. Her art practice made a massive shift into documentary and animation entirely by accident. Girl in the Hallway is Valerie’s very first animation. She taught herself how to animate during this three year production.
She lives with her husband, her 2 dogs, and 2 cats amongst piles of dusty books, blooming cacti, and hot tea.
What inspired your film?
Jamie DeWolf is an award winning poet and writer. I came across his performance on YouTube. With what came into my mind’s eye I knew this story had to be made into a movie. I contacted Jamie, and got his blessing. As production went forward and I did everything I could to find out all the details I could about about Xiana Fairchild and this particular serial killer Curtice Dean Anderson. Once I found out Xiana is Indigenous, it located the story in a completely different context. I believe silence and inaction is a major factor in how this particular genocide is on-going. This makes telling this particular story especially important. I was simply not in a position to be silent. Storytelling is medicine. Our communities need these stories.
What was the biggest challenge in making your film?
I had to tell a story, but I never made a movie before, and I didn’t know how to animate. So learning how to animate as I went along with no budget, or outside help. This film took three years to make. And I had only a $1000 budget to work with. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a library card and an internet connection really.
What was the best part of the experience for you?
Sitting in a dark, sold out theatre seeing, and hearing how my audience reacts to my film on a big screen. I’ve been deeply honoured with the conversations I’ve had with my audience. And that conversation was makes those three years of blood, sweat, and tears worth it.
What advice would you give aspiring filmmakers?
You really aren’t limited by your budget. You are limited by your artistry. Let your limitations be part of the creative process. Study the masters. You’ll find the key to solving the problems that come up in production.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently in Development for a short animated horror comedy.