Last month, to little fanfare, one of our city’s own talents was presented with prestigious recognition. Vancouver-based independent director Michelle Ouellet was named by Playback, Canada’s film and television industry magazine, one of 10 up-and-coming talents to watch.
As the director of the Canadian Comedy Award-nominated Hooked on Speedman (which stars my best friend, Chris Jacot aka the most handsomest man alive), the web series The True Heroines, the improvised feature film After Party and – phew – the short This Feels Nice, it was only a matter of time before Ouellet’s work would start being noticed on a larger scale.
When it comes to being recognized for her contribution to the film industry, Ouellet is modest about the attention she’s getting: She says the honour took her by surprise.
“It was a great list and they included some phenomenal artists and producers doing exciting things, so I was excited,” she says. “It was unexpected but really nice to be recognized.”
Since the ceremonies, which took place in Toronto in late September, Ouellet says life has gone back to normal. That means, hours and hours spent in an edited suite, finishing up a number of projects. Being placed on the list, however, did get her some interest for representation.
As for her current projects, The True Heroines is an online show about 1950s housewives with superpowers, who used to moonlight as showgirls. The show is heavy on the song and dance numbers (obviously) and even coincides with a live bi-monthly “fan appreciation” cabaret at various venues around town, including Guilt and Co. and The Electric Owl.
Once the latest episode is complete, it’s straight to post-production work on After Party, the inaugural feature by Ouellet’s production company, Sociable Films, which she runs with her husband Nicholas Carella and actress Ali Liebert.
The entirely improvised film was shot around town over several weekends in the summer and stars local talent. It’s expected to be completed early next year.
Although Ouellet is originally from Toronto, she has no plans to return. Most of her work has been done here as she’s completely taken with Vancouver’s infamous landscape. It inspired her so much she included it as a central part of her upcoming film This Feels Nice. That, combined with the city’s supportive, welcoming artistic community gives her a true sense of home. So, despite her rising profile, Ouellet intends to stay put.
“I love the vibe and the feel of the city, the lifestyles,” she says. “It’s a very receptive for artists. It’s life first here, it’s very laid back and I really like that.”