Private Project

The Weather

Based on the short story "The Weather" from Deborah Willis' book Vanishing and Other Stories (finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award), this short film follows the influence that a city girl has on the lives of an aging cowboy, Braden, and his daughter, Edith. Braden's wife Nina left him and their rural Albertan home after a tornado wreaked havoc on their farm. Heartbroken, Edith and Braden attempt to continue their lives as usual until Edith befriends a new student: Rae. Rae's parents moved her out to the country to get her away from some bad habits she picked up in the city. Braden and Edith welcome Rae into their home despite Braden's concerns about the influence Rae will have on his daughter. He neglects, however, to recognize the influence Rae has on him.

  • Vanessa Wenzel
  • Deborah Willis
  • Prairie Kitten Productions
    Auryon, The Stand Up
  • Natalie Marshall
    Key Cast
  • Kris Demeanor
    Key Cast
    The Valley Below
  • Siobhan Cooney
    Key Cast
    A Perception of Prudence
  • Tori Darr
    Key Cast
  • Morgan Ermter
    Abracadavers, Society of Birdwatchers
  • Rockwell White
  • Patryk Terelak
  • Zebra Vision Audio
    RE-TOLD: Highway Patrolman
  • Taylor Hicks
    Art Direction
    It's My Anxiety
  • Elaine Yang
    Assistant Director
    Auryon, Dr. Face 2: Time 2 Face Justice
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Adaptation
  • Runtime:
    25 minutes
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Director's Cut Int'l Film Festival
  • Toronto Vanguard Film Festival
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Vanessa Wenzel

Vanessa is a born and raised Calgarian who recently completed her BA in Film Studies, Drama Minor with distinction from the University of Calgary. She has been part of many indie and commercial projects (shorts, features, and web-series) around southern Alberta in roles such as Director, 1st Assistant Director, Editor, Production Manager, Assistant Camera, and Lead Cast. She most recently appeared in the SEVEN24/Dreamers Rock production, Falling Through the Cracks (Dean Bennett). She acted in several plays during her time at the University of Calgary including as Micheleine in Abi Morgan's Splendour, Armande in Moliere's The Learned Ladies, and Felicity Cunningham in Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound. Her goals for the future are to: gain more directing experience in short & eventually feature length films, star in a feature film, learn more about cinematography, and improve her editing skills.

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Director Statement

I am extremely lucky to have the opportunity to work with Deborah Willis in adapting her short story “The Weather” for the screen. Perhaps the most noticeable characteristic of Debbie’s writing is its infusion with imagery, a quality I think is attractive to any filmmaker because of the ease with which her stories can be visualized. Debbie’s writing is particularly attractive to me as a Canadian filmmaker due to its intimacy with the landscape and culture of Western Canada. This intimate connection to and reflection of Canadian life is reminiscent of Nobel Prize Winner Alice Munro’s work. The emphasis on Canadian landscape and culture as well as the presence of strong and detailed female characters made this short story a clear choice for adaptation.

My mission in this short film is to explore and relish in the rich ambiguity of Willis’ writing both in the production process and in the final product of the short film. In her essay “Mr. Bazin et le temps: reclaiming the timeliness of cinematic time”, film professor and theorist Lee Carruthers expresses the “compelling possibility that ‘not knowing’ might actually be a particular satisfaction of cinema that marks and motivates our viewing experience” and that “by offering us experiences of time that we cannot fully capture or overcome by knowledge, cinema recalls, and reflects, the temporality of lived experience” (17, 23). Willis’ writing seamlessly intertwines the certain and the ambiguous: while the plot and the temporal placement of Willis’ short story is always clear – a middle aged cowboy becomes intrigued by his 15-year-old daughter’s best friend after his wife leaves him for the city – the exact reasoning behind these events is left passionately ambiguous. To bring this play of certainty and ambiguity into the film in a clear way will be a wonderful challenge.