‘Throater’ dir. Justin Oakey

A meditation on a lifetime of hard work and seafaring.

Director-Editor: Justin Oakey
DOP: James Klopko

C8: What inspired Throater? How did the project come about?

JO: This was simply a case of having some nice footage leftover from another project, with access to some lovely archive footage and a series of beautiful interviews done by Hiram Silk, an important Newfoundland folklorist and historian. I was in between gigs and wanted to cut something to one of the interviews in particular, a sit-down with John Freake, and it just sort of fell together. No planning.

C8: What was the biggest challenge presented by the shoot and how did you overcome it?

JO: Well, we didn’t shoot anything specifically for this project, as it was just a little labour of love – but shooting in the extreme fog of Newfoundland can be a challenge sometimes, for sure.

C8: You also edited the film. Were there any scenes that you found difficult to cut or anything you didn’t include?

JO: It would’ve been pretty easy to let this stretch out into a ten-minute piece, as there is hours of interview material and archive footage. In the end I just wanted to get the atmosphere out there, a summary of this man’s life and his experiences. A dreamy, nostalgic little portrait – that’s all.

C8: Throater features archive footage. What is your advice for filmmakers in working with archive footage?

JO: I think it’s good to just create if you feel like creating. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate project. This is a good example of wanting to create a tone, and using leftovers to do it. I think it’s successful enough, all things considered. I don’t think there’s any shame in assembling a little piece with archive material – it’s all practice, as long as it gets your gears turning who knows what it’ll turn into.

C8: You’re based in Canada. How would you characterise the Canadian short film landscape and is there anything you would change?

JO: There are a lot of fantastic filmmakers producing shorts all across the country, but for me the biggest problem is that a lot of artists are trying to make something that appeals to broader audiences. Everybody is so focused on production value, and the stories often suffer. Quebec, in general, has a pretty good handle on their film industry and on funding highly creative, highly cultural, and highly cinematic projects – as well as nurturing artists into their feature filmmaking careers. I wish there was more regional work, basically. It’s always refreshing to see a film from another corner of the country and get a sense of their atmosphere, their pace, and their way of life – even in dramatic films.

C8: How did you initially get into filmmaking and what advice would you give to those looking for their start in the industry?

JO: I just wanted to tell stories for a living. I originally wanted to be an animator, but in high school I fell into filmmaking purely by chance – I believe a rather absurd video-essay for religion class with my best buddy Joel was the catalyst. My biggest pet peeve with any person trying to get into the arts, especially filmmaking, is the desire to be like another creator. It’s great to have inspirations and influences, but people need to make sure they let their own personality take the reigns a little and see what happens. I spent a long time trying to make films for the wrong reasons, more or less copying the filmmakers I looked up to, and I personally feel like they were (are) all garbage. Now that I’m letting my own voice takeover I feel a lot more satisfied and successful with my work.