Away Home – Synopsis
A man returns to his family home on the East Coast of Canada to unite his family and say goodbye to his terminally ill mother.
About the director, Jana Stackhouse
Jana Stackhouse is an award-winning director whose films have screened at various festivals internationally including TIFF, The Atlantic International Film Festival, and Los Angeles CineFest. While earning a BFA in Film at Ryerson University, Jana received numerous awards including The Norman Jewison Award and the Harvey Hart Director’s Award. Jana wrote and directed “Away Home”, which was selected for TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival and won the Best Female Director Award at Hollywood North Film Festival. Jana’s latest project is directing the web series “Note To Self” for CBC which garnered over one million views and received a Canadian Screen Award Nomination for Best Fiction Web Program or Series.
What inspired your film?
When I began writing the script for “Away Home” my grandmother was dying from Alzheimer’s. It was incredibly difficult to watch but it inspired me to tell a story about a grieving family. Then Canada passed Bill C-14 which decriminalized medical assistance in dying and this completely altered my path. I began reading testimonials of patients and their family members and I was fortunate enough to speak with physicians who had first-hand experience in the process. This influenced the story greatly and it became about an individual’s choice and how it affects everyone around them.
What was your biggest challenge in making your film?
The biggest challenge was sitting down to actually write the script. It was tough telling a story so personal. Each character is a part of me or someone I’m close to. It was hard at times to explore those parts of myself. The week I finished the script, my grandmother actually passed away. I like to think that she would have been proud of the story I wrote and that she could see herself in the beautiful moments on screen.
What was the best part of the experience for you?
Having the opportunity to screen “Away Home” for audiences has been a real gift. I’ve often had viewers come to me after a screening and share such incredible and personal stories with me. I consider it an honour that people feel like they know me after watching the film and are compelled to share their own experiences.
I also had such a wonderful experience working with the cast and crew. Everyone was so supportive of the story and incredibly dedicated to the process. I truly couldn’t have asked for a better team.
What advice would you give aspiring filmmakers?
Surround yourself with people who inspire you to make art and challenge you to make it even better. I’ve been really lucky to have that, especially with the producers of Away Home, Sarah and Aldo.
Also, listen to your instincts even when it’s about the small stuff. That has been the biggest lesson I’ve learned with everything I’ve made.
What’s next for you?
Most recently I directed a web series called “Note to Self” for CBC Comedy that can be found on their website. That was such a fun experience and a much-needed change of pace after such a heavy film. Currently I’m writing a feature and I have another web series in development. So, keep an eye out for those.