Filmmaker Q&A with Director Annie Leclair

Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

Stevie (2002) by the director Steve James


What motivated you to make this film?

I wanted to show a strong and contemporary female role model.
I met Marie-Hélène in 2017 while looking for the 3rd protagonist of my film “This Ability”. This documentary currently in production portrays 3 women living with a disability who explore their own personal limits or possibilities through the catalyst experience of becoming mothers.
As a female, writer, director and editor, I was determined to self-produce the short film “Grounded” because I truly believe its timely and universal message and engaging female protagonist will resonate with audiences around the world.  I also believe its short format will offer a multitude of possibilities for its distribution and hopefully might serve as a stepping stone or a channel for the feature documentary project behind it.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

Canon C300 MKII.  It’s a compact, versatile, easy to use and with great result camera.


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your film to help tell your story. 

A story developed over time, to feel and see the evolution of the character.  An intimate and very curious camera, becoming the mirror of the character, following her movements, dancing with her, without censorship. Marie-Hélène’s art was also used as powerful imagery to translate her vision and her emotions.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

The story didn’t evolve much as I really knew the direction I was headed.  The one thing that did change was I was able to keep the lovely guide track I was working with while editing, the song “Pass them by” by Agnes Obel.  After working with the music composer, he suggested to contact the artist directly as he didn’t think he could improve upon the music. Through a series of fortunate events I was able to contact Agnes and she happily gave her blessing to use the song.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film. 

This film triggered a personal introspection and a will to push my own limits.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Don’t be afraid to explore a subject that may seem outside of your own reality.  If it speaks to you on a personal level, it will speak to others!  It’s the encounter of that other reality, that bridge that you create to better understand it, that can make your film impactful sometimes.  A luminous or refreshing approach can also be very compelling and convincing to create social change.  Go for the format of the film you have in mind.  Long, short, in parts, the flexibility of the platforms are there now and you will find your audience. Finally, perseverance and alternative solutions were definitely my special weapons!


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

I can say that a story is truly being written in the editing room, where everything finally falls into place and the big picture comes together. It might be strange to say but, there is a new level of intimacy with the characters that happens in the editing room. Almost like new secrets being revealed.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why? 

My XLR camera, in case I might need to shoot something or take pictures.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this film.

When I first showed the film to Marie-Hélène, she was really moved.  She then told me she was born under a lucky star.
It stayed with me and made me reflect on my own personal outlook on life.


Can you describe any obstacles you encountered in making your film and/or in your distribution/exhibition efforts?

For the feature documentary This Ability, my principal obstacle has been trying to sell the subject of motherhood and disability to a broadcaster.  They often think, wrongly, that the film is for a specialized audience only.  Disability is simply not represented enough in the media and when it is, people expect it to be about disability issues… They don’t expect disabled people to be contemporary role models for everyone.
For Grounded, so far, the response has been very positive with festivals.  Hopefully, it will serve as a stepping stone for the feature documentary.


What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

At first the disability of Marie-Hélène meets the eye and tells us about an unstable perhaps fragile body looking for a new ground. Then, we realize that tremendous new strength and wellness emerges from letting go of preconception and celebrating unicity.
I hope this short film will trigger conversations about self-acceptance and the stigma surrounding disability and physical beauty. I also hope the viewers will be inspired by the tribute to motherhood and encouraged by the idea that young girls need strong feminine role models to feel good about themselves, as they are.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

The representation of the body and its stereotypes, especially for women
The power of resilience
Healing through grieving
Motherhood: a rebirth
The mother/daughter relationship
Art: a safe space of expression / a medium for mediation
The difference between “diversity” and “inclusivity”
Our wounds and differences can become our strength
Don’t be afraid to be your authentic self
Our perception of disability


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

I am not sure this is appropriate, but we are presently looking for funding for the French Canadian production of the documentary “This Ability”, the bigger film behind “Grounded”. To get more information, please visit the website provided below.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):




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