Kiss and Cry is a romantic drama based on the true story of Carley Allison, a promising 18-year-old figure skater and singer who finds love just as she is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. In honour of World Cancer Day, here is a Q&A Saverina did with director Sean Cisterna and actress Sarah Fisher.
Can you describe the process of turning Carley’s story into a film?
Sean: Turning Carley's story into a film had to start somewhere, so we went straight to the source - Carley herself. Although she was no longer with us, Carley left us a compelling structural blueprint with her blog. I worked with writer Willem Wennekers, along with the Allison family, Carley's boyfriend John, and Sarah Fisher, to come up with the outline and eventually the script. From that initial draft, and a promotional video I cut together featuring national news stories about Carley Allison, I was able to prove to our partners how much of an inspirational film this could turn out to be. The Ontario Media Development Corporation, Super Channel and Telefilm Canada all came on board to help make Kiss and Cry happen.
And production was relatively easy. Sarah and I had prepped for months, meeting for coffee and tea every couple of days to just talk about our film, and regularly involving the Allisons and John in our discussions. When we got on set, things just fell into place nicely.
We were able to secure some pretty spectacular locations, including the Cricket Club where Carley trained as a skater, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre where she was treated and even the Air Canada Centre where sang the national anthem at a live Toronto Maple Leafs game. You can't imagine the closed doors that a film production encounters when dealing with challenging locations to access, but when you say the name "Carley Allison" it makes opening those doors a little easier.
Was there something from Carley Allison’s story that you took and applied in your own life?
Sarah: Monday mornings…the feeling when you’re about to get a cold…we give ourselves so many reasons to feel stressed and less happy but what we sometimes fail to remember is that living in good health is more than enough of a reason for us to carry big smiles on our faces every single day. When you see what Carley went through, every day her body was at war with itself, being able to get out of bed some days was hard and yet, Carley Allison always smiled. She loved life and lived it to the absolute fullest despite her diagnosis making it that much more difficult for her to do what she loved most, skating and singing; but cancer couldn’t stop her. I cannot count the amount of things Carley Allison has taught me, she reminds me every single day how lucky and fortunate I am and how important it is to not take anything for granted, to never say no to an opportunity, to fill every day with passion and love, and most importantly, to always smile.
Kiss and Cry will be opening theatrically in Toronto:
Toronto (Feb 10) - Carlton Theatre
Additional theatres to be announced soon.