Exclusive Interview for Wholly Cinema by Ross Munro. Interview photos by Maria Munro.
Happy to be in town for the Canadian unspooling of her new indie feature “To Keep The Light” here at the Vancouver International Film Festival, American actress/director Erica Fae is just settling in to a major wave of critical and festival acclaim for her tale of a pioneering woman tending to the upkeep of a lighthouse circa 1800’s East Coast America.
Not to be confused with a certain extremely- more big budgeted other lighthouse movie, filmmaker Fae (a graduate of NYU’s acting program and current drama teacher at Yale) has crafted a stark cinematic landscape that, like a Victorian novel set in the stormy winds and environmental isolation of the English moors, is redolent with repressed passion and mystery.
Taking on the dual roles of acting/directing was something the Massachussetts-born director Fae relished as she stated, “I had the luck of ignorance and innocence of not knowing how hard it was to act in and direct a feature.”
“There were challenging moments on set,” she continued. “During peak acting scenes I had to establish the trust of the cinematographer to set up the shot in advance so I could just dive in to the scene as an actor.” Also, she had a trusted friend on set who “would watch the takes and supply me with objective feedback on my acting.”
Asking her about the inspiration of “To Keep The Light”, she answered: “Most of my work is about women in history. I was researching the suffragette movement in the late 1800’s in America and ended up coming across stories of the women who ended up taking care of lighthouses. It’s always an artistic trigger for me when I find out about something I never knew women did in history.”
Feeling grateful that “To Keep The Light”’s story about the indomitable spirit of historical pioneering women is really resonating with audiences, director Fae mentioned that the film will be playing in over 20 film festivals across North America- including a just-announced Best of Show at the prestigious Bend Film Festival in Oregon.
As for her next project, this multi-talented artist (also previously seen in the amazing HBO drama Boardwalk Empire) says “that while “To Keep The Light” was salty, spare and minimalist- my next film will be a verdant, lusty and playful period piece.”
Director Fae: “In the end, people say why are you wearing so many hats (writing, directing, acting)? But I just tell them- it’s just one hat: I’m a storyteller”.