July 8, 2020

Investigating Storytelling and Memory – Averie Severs on ‘A Tough Day’

A middle aged man and a young woman stand staring at an old bungalow property.
A still from ‘A Tough Day’

In A Tough Day, a father reflects on his dysfunctional upbringing and how that has shaped him today, while the filmmaker discovers a new side of her father through his memories. Averie Severs directed this personal documentary in her third year of York University’s Film Production program. It can now be viewed in the YorkFlix library.

We interviewed Averie about her experience creating the film:

Averie Severs smiles while wearing a bright yellow shirt with a daisy in her hair
Averie Severs

What inspired you to make this film?
Growing up, my father always told me these crazy stories about his childhood, the trouble he got into, the way his father acted, and what he would do when he skipped school. He would always share these stories as a lesson to us, to make us grateful for what we had. My dad had such a rehearsed version of his childhood stories because he told us them all the time. I was inspired by his stories to look a little deeper and see if his childhood effected who he was as a person today. He always used to tell us that the one big lesson his father taught him was how not to be a father. The idea perplexed me as all I wanted to be when I was younger was like my father. That’s why I wanted to learn more.

Was there a creative breakthrough in this film making process?
I learned that a story can really change as you make a documentary. I went in wanting to explore my dad’s business and the success he built for himself, contrasting it with his upbringing. But what I made instead, with the help of my editor, was a film that looks at memories and how one experiences and suppresses the pain from memories.

Is there anyone from your film crew that you want to collaborate with again?
With documentary, the story really comes together in the editing room. My editor, Rowan O’Brien, worked so hard to help shape my film into what it is now, and I really value her as an editor. I worked with her again on my 4th-year documentary, Twinkle Toes.

What advice can you give to York student film makers?
Be nice to the equipment room and treat people with respect. Try to help out on as many films as you can, and don’t forget to use the SMIL library.

CLICK HERE to watch A Tough Day on YorkFlix