First feature film a 'heartwarming' romantic comedy
There's just one problem — government grants aren't generally made available to first-time filmmakers. She's approached private investors instead to scrape together enough cash.
Darling is also hoping to raise $15,000 through Internet crowdsourcing on Indiegogo.
Those who contribute do get something back though. For example, those who give at least $30 receive a DVD or Blu-Ray of the movie when it comes out, a digital download and five postcards from principal photography.
“This will help us raise money for the cabin rental, and for camera, sound and light equipment rental, which are all very expensive, and are a challenge to pay for,” she said.
While the crowdsourcing campaign is off to a slow start, having raised about $1,200 so far, Darling said she's hoping it'll pick up steam as more people learn about the project.
The film, entitled "A Lot Like Marriage," is about a young couple who invite both sets of parents to a cabin for the Christmas holidays.
“That's when we realize that Henry — the young guy — his mother and his girlfriend's father used to be married to each other,” Darling said.
“That's basically when the snow starts to hit the fan ... For me, I like thinking about a story where I would hate to be a part of that story. That's a great story to write.”
Darling, who is originally from southern Ontario, but has taught English at Collège Boréal and Laurentian University for the past five years, has been writing since she was in her teens.
But it wasn't until she moved to Sudbury that she tried her hand at screenwriting, and she ended up winning Music and Film in Motion's screenwriting competition four years ago.
She enrolled in the Master's of Fine Arts screening program at Hollins University in Virginia. Darling spends each summer in Virginia, but does the rest of her coursework online.
One of the short films she's made, "French Plays Matchmaker," won second place in the student category in the Best in Shorts competition at this year's Cinéfest.
With her upcoming film shoot for "A Lot Like Marriage," Darling aspires to hire as many Sudburians as possible to work on the movie, as well as women, who she says are under represented in the industry.
Her first assistant director, Janine Oloman, is from the area, as is her cinematographer, Mathieu Seguin.
While Sudbury has become something of a “Hollywood North” in recent years, with big-budget movies filming in town, Darling said these productions mostly bring in their crews from elsewhere.
These films also don't tell the stories of people who live up here, said Darling, who hopes to screen A Lot Like Marriage at next year's Cinéfest.
“I'm trying to tell one of Sudbury's stories using a really authentic Sudburian voice from someone who's lived in Sudbury for the past five years and is calling it home,” Darling said.
I'm using people who come from this area who know what it feels like, and it will give a real northern flair to the project that might not appear in other projects that are just shot here.”
Beyond giving a voice to Sudburians, Darling said that in general, she wants to make “heartwarming and entertaining” movies with strong female characters.
“Often women are the love interest and don't have their own goals and desires other than that in the story,” she said.
“'A Lot Like Marriage' is a love comedy, but women still have very strong, compelling roles, and they're not just relegated to the roles of girlfriend and mother and wife. They have strong storylines for themselves.”
Those interested in contributing to Darling's Indiegogo campaign are asked to visit http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-lot-like-marriage.