Getting to the heart of the matter with director Emma Zaiachkowski

"Marriage is often a conventional step forward in the lives of adults, but Travis and Stephanie's union is particularly exceptional. Both born with Down syndrome, they are now navigating a unique set of obstacles in their married life". Director Emma Zaiachkowski wanted to tell Travis and Stephanie's story. In her third year at the Film and Television Production program at Humber College in Toronto, Ontario, Emma directed her first documentary. We hope you have a few minutes to watch this touching, short documentary.

About Emma: Emma's interest in this field first took root in high school. In grade twelve, Emma’s short film, “Leaving” received the Critic's Choice Award at the Take Two - Young Reels Film Festival. This recognition was instrumental in forming Emma’s passion for filmmaking.

In 2012, Emma began her post-secondary studies at Humber College. Although the program is often quite grueling, she remains fiercely dedicated to both the art of filmmaking and to the creative partnerships she has formed with her classmates and teachers. Emma is enthusiastic about the future and looks forward to continuing to better herself as a filmmaker and collaborator in the years to come.

How long have you been directing? I have been directing short films for two years but this is my first attempt at documentary filmmaking. “You & I”, was the first film that I had ever directed with a larger-scale crew, a budget and executive producers. It was my first professional filmmaking endeavor.

How many films have you directed? Four films. All of these films have been in association with the educational institution I was attending at the time. “You & I”, was formulated and produced at Humber College School of Media Studies & Information Technology, in the Film & Television Production Advanced Diploma Program.

Is there any one part of the process that you enjoy more than the others? I really enjoy the collaborative process in all aspects of filmmaking. This film in particular was such a collaborative effort. The final product is really a testament to all of the hard work and dedication from the crew and faculty. I enjoy this facet of filmmaking because it allows your initial idea to grow and develop in ways you never thought possible.

You & I

Marriage is often a conventional step forward in the lives of adults, but Travis and Stephanie's union is particularly exceptional. Both born with Down syndrome, they are now navigating a unique set of obstacles in their married life and continue to prove that love transcends all barriers.

Marriage is often a conventional step forward in the lives of adults, but Travis and Stephanie's union is particularly exceptional. Both born with Down syndrome, they are now navigating a unique set of obstacles in their married life and continue to prove that love transcends all barriers.

What drew you to wanting to tell this story? Many things drew me to wanting to tell Travis and Stephanie’s story. The main reason I was drawn to make this film was because I wanted to open up a dialogue about individuals who are differently-abled. The primary objective of this film was to explore the authentic, intimate day-to-day life of a couple that may not look like everyone from the outside but express love just like everyone else. By creating this dialogue I hope to put forth the notion that love or any other emotion for that matter, should never be discounted due to one’s intellectual ability and that life is pretty magnificent when it includes individuals like Travis and Stephanie.

What kind of camera did you shoot on? Sony FS100

What were some of the challenges in getting this film made and how did you overcome them? Challenges are always part of the filmmaking process. Some of the trials that arose were of course our time limit. We only had four days to shoot four interviews and gather b-roll footage. This particular challenge was solved by a great deal of preparation on the crew’s behalf. Another challenge presented itself in the editing suite. Cutting together a great deal of footage and formulating a story was difficult to say the least. This challenge was overcome again by extremely hard work and dedication.

 

To learn more about Emma, you can check out her website here.

Watch Emma's film, You & I NOW!