Already seen as one of Canada’s most well rounded actors, Katie Boland, who also produces and writes, has a surprisingly down-to-earth quality, which is likely the driving force behind her continued success. The 27 year old has two films at TIFF this year; one as a producer for the short film Boxing, and another as an actor starring alongside Ethan Hawke in the Chet Baker film Born to be Blue. Boland opened up about her family, her career and her honest admiration for the actors and crew she works with.
JD: How was your experience working on the Born to be Blue, and how did it compare to other projects you’ve done in the past?
KB: I was only filming for a short time, so I would say it was short and sweet. It felt like other films I have done that shot in Northern Ontario because it had a lot of the same crew. It was special because one my best friends, Grayson, was working on the film, I really love the producers Len and Jen, and my friend Caitlin Cronenberg was doing the stills. It was different though because I was very, very nervous to work with Ethan Hawke. He is one of my favourite actors and it was an honour and a dream to work with him. My nerves subsided quickly as he was really, really kind but I didn’t sleep the night before.
JD: Ethan Hawke….he’s really getting great roles these days. What did you learn from working with him, if anything.
KB: He works every single scene really hard and has thought about it from all angles. Working with him felt like working with an incredible actor and director combined. We did a small scene and he had seven or eight amazing ideas and suggestions for me that really made it sing. I learned from him that you can push every single scene to make it the best it can be by paying attention to all the small details. You produced a short film this year – Boxing. Tell me about the pressure to squeeze meaning out of something in 20 minutes or less.
I didn’t have to worry about squeezing anything into the film because it was written by my two best friends, who also directed, Aidan Shipley and Grayson Moore. I knew when I read the script that it was going to be a fantastic short. They are brilliant. I can honestly say this short is one of the things in my career I am most proud of. It’s been a thrilling ride.
JD: You grew up in the Beaches in Toronto and still seem to have an affinity with that neighbourhood. How important is having a real connection to ‘home’ when you sit down to write?
KB: I think about home all the time when I’m writing. I write from a nostalgic place, I am always thinking of the past and how much things have changed. The Beaches have seen me through every part of my life and I love them truly. I think I will end up there later in life when I have a family.
JD: You always seem to make the lists of Canadian women in film who are hitting that next level. Do these lists mean much in the long haul or can it be a distraction?
KB: They mean a lot to me. It is always an honour to be recognized for your work. I think getting caught up in any kind of success or praise can be a distraction, so I just take it as a compliment and then get back to work. I keep focussing on what I’m trying to make or whatever project I’m shooting. It’s really flattering to be recognized and I am so grateful for it.
JD: As a lifelong Torontonian, can you tell me about some of your favourite spots around the city?
KB: My absolute favourite bar is the Lockhart on Dundas. It is Harry Potter themed and amazing! I also LOVE LOVE LOVE Sneaky Dees and go every Wednesday for their rap night and dance for hours with my closest friends. My favourite store is Cabaret Vintage.
JD: What was your first concert and what venue was it?
KB: Oh this is tough! I want to say it was the Spice Girls at the Molson Amphitheatre. The best concert I’ve been to recently was Drake’s latest one for the Jungle Tour at the ACC. It was maybe the best concert I’ve ever seen. I try and see as many rap shows as I can. It’s my favourite thing to do.
JD: Seems like most of your family is either into film, writing, music….tell me about growing up in that kind of artistic environment.
KB: My parents were always really supportive and encouraging. My brother is my best friend and we are each other’s biggest fans. I am really lucky that I grew up in a household that viewed being an artist as a viable career. It was a pretty normal childhood in most ways though, it wasn’t really non-conformist or anything like that. I think my parents talked to us, openly about emotions and what was happening in the world in a way other parents maybe didn’t. Mike and I had pretty big world views when we were very young. Our parents always treated us and our opinions with respect.
JD: Give us an idea of what TIFF is like on the business side. It seems like sleep is pretty elusive, especially if you are doing it right.
KB: It is insane. Literally I will be doing twenty hour days for the next week at least. You have interviews, parties, screenings, press. It’s full on. It’s also really fun and I love it. It’s a good opportunity to get dressed up and say hi to all the people in your industry you don’t see any other time of the year. For the Canadian Film Industry it feels like old home week and a time when we are celebrated.
JD: What would be your advice to aspiring writers, producers and actors in an increasingly digital world?
KB: If you can’t see yourself doing anything else that would make you happy, do that. If this is your only option, don’t give up. Read this Dear Polly article. http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/08/ask-polly-why-is-everyone-succeeding-except-me.html Find likeminded people and talk about ideas and what you can make together, not what you aren’t getting that you want. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it. Technology is more accessible than ever. It’s democratized film making. Go make something – don’t wait for someone to give you the opportunity.