- The Sticking Place created by Josephine Anderson and Brittany Baxter. Interactive online documentary about female wrestler Leah Callahan journey to the 2012 Olympics. Go to thestickingplacefilm.ca to view the work in progress.
CLICK around The Sticking Place website and pieces of Canadian wrestler Leah Callahan's life pop up.
Videos of Callahan competing, snippets of audio interviews about her training, even samples of her email are peppered throughout the interactive website.
This week, Callahan joins her teammates in London as a member of the Canadian Olympic wrestling team, and Josephine Anderson, co-creator of The Sticking Place says she is hoping it will be an opportunity to add another chapter to the project.
"The beauty of doing an online project like ours is you can continue to add to the story as it goes, so following Leah to the Olympics and following that part of her journey as it continues is something we really want to do," she explains.
Anderson calls The Sticking Place (launched on June 27), an interactive documentary because viewers choose what part of the footage they want to look at as they explore the website. The footage is not presented in a linear format, which would be more similar to traditional documentaries.
"In terms of filmmaking it's just a different kind of process of fine tuning," she says.
Anderson worked on the project with her business partner Brittany Baxter (the other half of their production company Moosestash Films). It was Baxter who knew Callahan and suggested her journey to make the Canadian Olympic wrestling team would make a good story.
"The reason Leah is such a compelling subject for a documentary is because of the way that she's just so raw, she's so honest, she's so straightforward and she's confident with her perspective and her ideas," says Anderson.
She adds of Callahan's reaction to the finished project: "She was excited and her family and friends were excited to relive the moments from this past year."
Anderson says she felt like she was exploring new territory while making the film, noting there aren't a lot of projects that have been released in this format.
"Our production was very modern-day, you would say."
Anderson is based in Vancouver, and notes that most of the footage in The Sticking Place is from interviews done via Skype with Callahan, who is based in Calgary.
Some competition video was shot at past events by Callahan's teammates. Still other footage was shot using the filmmakers' DSLR cameras. Anderson and Baxter raised about $20,000 for the project through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter, and through a grant from the National Film Board of Canada.
Anderson admits the web development for the project was an expensive part of the process, but adds, filmmakers always have choices about how much they want to spend, and "You just make these decisions as you go."
Since web design is not something in which her production company specializes, the web design was outsourced.
"It's expensive, but at the same time, if you compare it to a large-scale, traditional documentary it's arguable whether it would be more expensive or less expensive," says Anderson.
"Making an interactive project was all new to us. We'd never made one before and so it was a lot of guess and testing, and a lot of sort of inventing, really, in terms of our process. So it was a challenge because there's no cookie-cutter process to follow. Not yet at least. That was a challenge but it was also such a reward. Having this kind of open slate to explore how we want to do it just using our own judgment and our own interests was also such a rewarding experience."
She explains that shooting for an interactive website format was a bit different than for a traditional documentary.
"I would say we definitely approached it with a different mindset knowing that the footage we used would be broken into bite-sized pieces, so everything we shot we had in mind, OK which web screen is this going to fit in to? Where does this fit in within this chapter? That's so different from a linear story. You could experience The Sticking Place in a linear way if you wanted to but it would probably be challenging to do that, and also it's not really the way it's intended. You're supposed to just follow your own curiosity whether that's from start to finish or jumping around the whole story."
Anderson, who is a graduate of Capilano University's Documentary Film Program, says the documentary genre is her favourite type of filmmaking.
"I love documentaries. I just think that the power of a true story is unlike anything else. And it's exciting to have that kind of real-stakes element to the story that you're sharing with your audience."