Wholly Cinema Exclusive Interview with “On Falling” Filmmaker Josephine Anderson & Producer Joella Cabalu

Blog post by Ross Munro for Wholly Cinema.

Thanks for your patience while we here at Wholly Cinema have been doing our part along with humanity (which I’m a big fan of by the way) in staying safe during these trying times. But between coaxing my financial management team to buy up all remaining Zoom stock and going for social distancing walks, we were able to come up with a new Wholly Cinema interview.

Vancouver producing/filmmaking team Joella Cabalu and Josephine Anderson were kind enough to respond favourably to my requests to answer some questions about their excellent new documentary short “On Falling” which nabbed a prestigious World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The visually impressive, emotionally stirring film details the reflections of three young women in the world of professional mountain biking- with an emphasis on their never-quit determination despite the physical perils of their chosen sport and their unwavering spirit in overcoming the numerous injuries that come their way.
And, on top of that, “On Falling” has a kick ass film poster (see below)!
Thanks again to the film’s Producer Joella Cabalu and Director Josephine Anderson for taking the time to chat during these stressful times…


Wholly Cinema: What was the inspiration for making “On Falling”?

Josephine: I made “On Falling” because I live on the edge of one of the world’s most renowned mountain biking destinations, but have always been too afraid of falling to take up mountain biking. I wanted to explore how people who are embedded in this extreme sport think and feel about risk, failure and vulnerability. Also, I’ve seen how treacherous a bike fall can be. A couple of years ago, my sister was in a road bike crash that damaged her face, knocked out several teeth, and gave her a serious concussion. I wanted to understand why mountain bikers are willing to constantly subject themselves to risk, and how they deal with their fear.

WC: What was the most challenging aspect of making the film?

Josephine: As some of the world’s most accomplished pro riders, the characters in our film are frequently filmed. These films usually focus on their extreme physical talent and speed. The topic of crashing is often pretty taboo. It takes a lot of mental fortitude for pro riders to keep pushing their limits and to avoid dwelling on their mistakes. When we began developing “On Falling”, we knew that we wanted to take a different approach from the action-focussed films our characters were used to, instead assembling their very personal reflections into a psychologically layered film. As we got deeper into production, we were able to build trust, and the riders shared some of their most gripping trail falls with us. This helped us expand the film into what it is now, observing their abrupt bike falls through a meditative, contemplative lens.

9_On Falling - Josephine Anderson Director Headshot_photo by Jackie Dives
Josephine Anderson, Director • Photo by Jackie Dives
900_On Falling - Joella Cabalu Producer Headshot_photo by Krista MacMillan
Joella Cabalu, Producer • Photo by Krista MacMillan

WC: What, if anything, surprised you the most while making the film?

Joella: We were amazed by the rider’s incredible athleticism and unrelenting stamina when filming on the bike trails, but also their openness and willingness to play with the more unconventional elements of the film, like falling on to their bed or into their partner’s arms shot in super slo-mo! We were so delighted and pleased that they were game to have fun with us!

3_On Falling_Still 2_Brittany Phelan (left) and Amy Ertel (right)_photo by Claire Sanford
Brittany Phelan (left) and Amy Ertel (right) • Photo by Claire Sanford

WC: What influenced the style of the film? (ie- any aesthetics from other films, music, photography, etc.)

Josephine: I was inspired by the work of director Alma Har’el (especially her recent doc, “LoveTrue”). I love the way Har’el blurs the line between fact and imagination, between our external experiences and internal realities.

901_On Falling_IMG_7874_left to right DP Claire Sanford, Director Josephine Anderson, Subject Andreane Lanthier Nadeau, Sound recordist Alex Shamku
left to right DP Claire Sanford, Director Josephine Anderson, Subject Andreane Lanthier Nadeau, Sound recordist Alex Shamku

WC: After Tribeca, what’s next for “On Falling”? (Other film festivals, potential distribution, etc.)

Josephine: We’re currently planning our next steps. We’ve been invited to several film festivals, but it’s unclear if these will be moving forward or not, due to Covid-19. So we’re in the midst of brainstorming possibly moving up our online release. Stay tuned!

4_On Falling_Still 3_Andréane Lanthier Nadeau_photo by Claire Sanford
Andréane Lanthier Nadeau • Photo by Claire Sanford

WC: Either together or separately, what are you working/planning to make as your next project?

Josephine: I’m currently developing two new projects: a 360 VR documentary with support from the NFB, and a feature documentary.

Joella: I’m producing my first feature documentary Back Home with support from the Telefilm Talent to Watch fund and curating a digital project First Photo Here with the National Film Board Digital Studio.


Playing at https://tribecafilm.com/films/on-falling-2020

V i v a   l a   C i n e m a !