The grind of her first feature film was beginning to take its toll.
Years into Us & Them, a documentary following the lives of four homeless people, Krista Loughton admits there were times she felt overwhelmed. Shooting without funding, battling her own depression at the time and the pain of one the film’s subjects passing away, had become more than she could handle.
“I actually put the film down for a couple of years from 2010 to 2012. I felt like ‘I can’t look at this,’ I just need to deal with myself,” Loughton says. “We had lost people, so it was very difficult to go through that footage… I cried a lot of tears.”
Following the journey of Stan Hunter, Eddie Golko, Dawnellda Gauthier and Karen Montgrand for almost a decade, Loughton documented their addiction, mental illness, homelessness and even her own depression, topics seldom funded through the traditional filmmaking pathways.
So the first-time feature director, alongside co-director and co-producer David Malysheff, eschewed traditional budget models for the artistic freedom and financial burden of independent filmmaking built on sweat equity.
“Over the ten years (there were points in time) where I was deep in a valley in the dark and very concerned about whether the film would even be finished,” she says. “(Its) taken an enormous toll on me financially. I’ve been living in the spare room of my mom’s house for the last two years.”
The film eventually cost $200,000, funded through in-kind labour, deferrals, sponsorships from the Victoria Cool Aid Society and Telus, and an Indiegogo campaign. She currently still owes $60,000 in loans on the film.
“Being a first-time producer and director threw up no shortage of conflict. There certainly were times both business wise and creatively, when I was in way over my head,” she says. (But) now that I’ve come out the other side, I feel stronger for persevering.”
After screenings in Victoria, Duncan, Campbell River, Winnipeg, Toronto among others, the film found its way into the hands of Victoria mayor Lisa Helps, who offered the film to Minister Jean Yves Duclos whose portfolio includes homelessness. Through that contact, the film now travels to Ottawa to screen on Parliament Hill in the spring.
“It’s the zenith to have Minister Duclos want to speak at that event, with invitations going out to all MP’s in his office. I reached the goal, that was the goal of this film. I am happy, grateful (that) I have had so many people helped push it forward.” she says.
“I was grateful that I was chosen as a voice to speak to (this) to the best of my ability and that is what I intend to do.”
Despite the arduous and unexpectedly decade-long journey, Loughton says she is happy with the film, which she hopes shines a spotlight on the plight of those living on the street, but said she has one major regret about her documentary.
“(I wish I finished) the film sooner, so Dawnelda and Stan could have seen themselves,” she said of the two subjects who passed away during filming.
“I sit in the theatre and wish that they were there, but that’s not how it worked out. Other than that, I have my armour on and I am ready to go.”
For more information visit usandthemthefilm.ca
Check out part of our video interview with Krista Loughton and Karen Montgrand below.