The chat with Sarah Furlotte begins amongst an organized clutter of projects in a small room where a husky-lab-chow-malamute, named Tank, quietly enters like a beautiful cloud of fur, shortly followed by a shy and thinner husky-chow with loving bright sienna eyes.
Sarah’s paintings of tearing clouds, from her last show at the Defsup gallery, hang on the walls amongst earlier surreal landscapes featuring cats and rabbits. She apologizes for the mess as she sweeps strips of paper and bra parts into a corner. The mess suits an artist whose commitment to diversity takes up every spare surface of the room with hats, fur coats, hooves, horns, giant gold fairy wings, organized binders, books, oversized thematic bras, stacked large canvases, small canvases, misshapen paper constructions, and one of Sarah’s current loves, “assemblages,” the little worlds that look like maquette stage sets.
Although she loves to play with paint and paper, design costumes for shows (the past Derelicte5 Show and the upcoming Urban Infill), Sarah’s focus now is on making films, in collaboration with others, but she is eager to make her own film. And she will. Unlike so many who talk about making a film, or never manage to complete projects, it’s a near certainty that Sarah will.
As she pulls out a thick old book on engineering and flips through the drawings, she talks about her past experiences, rifling through countless projects she’s worked on. Recently she graduated from Confederations College’s film program, having made her own student films and having banked film projects with other students. She worked for seven years, mostly as a props coordinator and set painter at Magnus Theatre. One of her current jobs is as Artistic Director for Imaginarium, a successful film/video production company in town. She has also worked for local companies, Thunderstone Pictures, Apple Wagon Films, Shebandowan Films, Cinevate, and others. She taught a course in art direction at the college in their film program. The list of collaborations with individuals is also extensive. Currently, she is working with Will Rutledge on a science fiction film.
The point of all this resume chatter? Sarah represents the best kind of artist who gets things done, for herself, and others. She acts as spokes on a wheel, the wheel being the art community. Sarah is having a remarkable and wonderful influence. She’s one of the best go-to people in town. Few people like Sarah are able to work with just about anyone, from shy up-and-comers to downright bullies. Although Sarah refers to the film crowd as a bunch of boys, she is thoroughly happy to work for them, get them motivated and help complete their projects, to exceed their own expectations.
She laments the intense jealousy local filmmakers have of one another, not just petty envies over successes, but over equipment, funding, talent, connections, etc. Sarah believes Thunder Bay’s has the opportunity to be a thriving film community, but she sees how the badmouthing, gossip, and in some cases, actions to undermine each other are extremely harmful.
Despite this, Sarah is extremely positive about the city’s newfound vibrancy. “Thunder Bay is becoming fun,” she says. “There’s a lot of artiness going on. The openings are getting so much more fun. People are always out. People are talking. They’re getting out and having a fun time. There are gift shops, new galleries, and little offices for film companies in town now. The grants are really helping. People are doing more nationally comparable bodies of work, like that Nowadays graphic novel, and documentaries and stuff. There’s a lot to do and it’s getting better.”
Sarah is reading books by Christopher Lasch, Jean M. Twenge, Diana West, and others to understand a subject that fascinates her, a lost generation of “boys.” She laughs, and describes herself as a tomboy who does out of gender jobs.
Hopefully the film community will return favours when she begins work on her own film projects. Lots of the "boys" have a tendency to forget who helped them get their projects completed, or even started, for that matter.