“A filmmaker’s most important tool is humanity. You want to able to capture humanity in your stories and bring out humanity in your characters.” – Ryan Coogler

Jen Araki, Dylan Playfair and Milania Kerr

Jen Araki is a Canadian/American award-winning filmmaker, director, actress and producer. Experienced in documentary, commercial and narrative story telling Jen is an extremely versatile film maker . She splits her time between Vancouver BC Canada and Los Angeles. Jen and her husband Dylan own and operate a production company with a commercial division (Media Button) as well as a film and TV division (Crystal Mountain Films) with offices in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

A Canadian born actor, director and producer Dylan’s career has spanned from Disney musicals (Descendants 2&3) to Hulu comedies (Letterkenny) and documentaries (The Drop: Why Young People Don’t Vote). Filming Whistle in his hometown of Fort St. James added a very personal element to the story of Whistle. He continues to pursue meaningful roles and collaborations with talented story tellers.

Milania Kerr is a young actor and model from Vancouver, Canada. She has had roles in television, film, commercials, print and runway modeling. Her role as young Emma, in Whistle has granted her multiple nominations and wins in festivals and Awards.

Jen, coming from a world of directing documentaries, how did you manage to blur the lines between documentary and fiction?
To accomplish this I allowing the actors to have the freedom to go off script and truly be in the moment, using very dream-like poetic cinematography for certain scenes from the past, and utilizing doc style handheld camera movements. We also used some locals like the Priest and the bartender who are from the small town we filmed in. Directing people who are not actors is something I’m very comfortable doing. This story had the potential right from the script to be authentic because it’s coming from the inspiration of a real story (my mother’s life), but also had the potential for creativity and expression through these very strong characters.
Dylan, as Whistle is inspired by true events based on Jen’s mother’s life, how did you experience the portrayal of Emma’s alcoholic father from a personal standpoint?
Anytime you’re playing a character based on a real person there’s an added responsibility. You’ve got to respond to the situations presented authentically while honoring legacy of that person. I believe the best way to achieve that is to recognize the human experience is a shared one and to play the circumstances of the character rather than the idea of the character. No one sets out to make mistakes and the road to hell is paved with good intentions. People do the best they can given who they are at the time. We are all learning and evolving. My goal was to capture who Noah was at the time our story was told not who he was looking backwards.
Milania, how was it to play this role given that the story is told from your own point of view as a character?
I felt it was important to show that Emma’s relationship with her dad had layers. It was complicated and she had much more responsibility than most children her age. She also loved him more than anything, had so much fun with him and always wanted the best for him.