Kaitlyn Adair is the creative founder of Rebel Femme Productions. The feminist production company made its debut at the 2018 Silver Wave Film Festival with the short film March 2.4, written and co-directed by Adair. The Bathurst native, currently based in Fredericton, won Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Drama and the Lex Gigeroff Excellence in Screenwriting Award.
Rebel Femme shot its second film in February. The untitled project, filmed in one day, involved six crew members, one actor, and a cat.
[The film] is an exploration of how we use animals in dating but told from this feminist horror perspective,” Adair said. “In heteronormative cultures, women are told to look for men with dogs, especially online, because they’re nice guys if they have dogs. We explored those stereotypes from a cat owner’s perspective and a cat’s perspective. She kills everyone who is a dog person and who is mean to her as a cat.”
With this film, Adair wants to disrupt tropes of the horror genre.
“I’m tired of watching women die in horror films.”
“I am passionate about intersectional feminism and social justice and keeping these things on the forefront of media and storytelling,” Adair said. “I like doing it in creative ways where people don’t really know necessarily that that’s what they’re engaging with.”
Adair is confident about festivals picking up the film. She believes there are niche markets for a film about a cat serial killer.
For Adair’s first short film March 2.4, it’s been a different story. The filmmaker says the film is “not getting into festivals,” resulting in an internal debate about the film’s visibility.
“To me, I think it’s more important for people to see the movie, so it might be more valuable to put it online and make it public content,” Adair said. “But then for me as a human being, putting it online adds a whole different level of trauma and violence.”
March 2.4 is a feminist experiential film bringing to light the realities of post-traumatic stress disorder after a sexual assault. The film gives a voice to survivors by bringing the viewer into the symptoms of PTSD while focusing on themes of systemic violence towards women, victim shaming, and sexism.
(Rebel Femme Productions / Kaitlyn Adair)
Creating March 2.4 was a “powerful experience” for Adair who worked hard to ensure the film’s production met Rebel Femme’s goals of authenticity, leadership, and collaboration. To begin, the cast and crew of March 2.4 was 85 percent female.
“Women aren’t given the same opportunities as men.” Adair said. “For me to walk the walk, I really needed to be accountable by not only putting women in positions of authority, which they don’t usually get on film sets, but I also wanted the collaborative process to be from this female process because it is a gendered type of film.”
Adair also looked at the film’s production from an accessibility standpoint. “I think something that is missed is how do we create space for populations who are different from myself?”
“I made sure all the places we shot were all fully accessible,” Adair said. “I created a space people could come and feel good about. We started everyday with a Reiki healing session to make sure people were okay with what was happening.”
Adair, feeling like she couldn’t do the film justice on her own, reached out to co-director Bronwen Mosher for guidance.
“Mentoring under Bronwen was the biggest piece of the puzzle for me,” Adair said. “I would sit down with her for hours and build the shot list together, but she left me have ownership of the story, which I think was very strong and powerful for me. I learned a lot from Bronwen and the crew. I I learned a lot making the film. I think sometimes you have to show up and try.”
Adair believes March 2.4 was “received fairly well” at the Silver Wave Film Festival.
“It’s hard to tell with something that’s uncomfortable,” Adair said. “A lot of people just didn’t know what to say, I think. It was 2nd for Audience Choice, so obviously some people identified with it.”
“Every time I watch it, I’m so proud of the quality of it. We went to the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and did all the post-production there. So, there’s a lot of awesome experiences that when I watch it, it’s really positive for me. It took me out of the head space of kind of being in that acute phase of my own trauma.”
Looking ahead, Adair says Rebel Femme has another film in the works. The film is called Together We Move, for which Adair received the 2018 CBC/NB Joy Award. Together We Move is about “two roommates who make a pact to only communicate through dance for one week.”
The film will feature some choreography, but the movement will be mostly “contact improv type of dance.”
On the visibility of women in Fredericton’s film community, Adair says she is happy with what is happening in the local film scene.
“It is really powerful to be in a community like Fredericton where we have a lot strong women that are leading the way,” Adair said. “We are very lucky because we have a lot of women taking on mentorship roles. [These women] are saying: I’m going to bring new people who have never done anything to mentor so they can move forward.”
Adair encourages anyone interested in filmmaking to go for it.
“I encourage people to try it. It’s powerful to tell stories from this authentic place, whatever that means to you.”
Kaitlyn Adair is a sexual assault nurse examiner with a background in street nursing and harm reduction. She is a passionate feminist, actor, activist and healer who incorporates her rebellious heart into all endeavours.
To learn more about Rebel Femme Productions, visit: https://www.rebelfemmeproductions.com/