Interview: Director Jude Klassen Rocks CIMMfest with ‘Love in the Sixth’ on April 17, 2016

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CHICAGO – The “Canuck Girls” have hit town, and they brought a lively, passionate and super fun musical about relationships and the environment to CIMMFest! Toronto-based writer/musician/actor/director Jude Klassen created “Love in the Sixth,” and it plays out at the 2016 festival on Sunday, April 17th (3:45p) at the Logan Theatre in Chicago. Click here for complete details.

The film explores relationships, in the post modern mode of Woody Allen, plus has amazing song breaks in the style of Motown, Punk, The Beatles and even “Grease” (if Grease would have had a song called “F**king Love”). The cinematic freedom of Jude Klassen’s director influence is woven throughout the work, as she portrays a rocker Mom named Dani, who is raising a Hunger-Games-loving-environmentally-conscious 12 year-old named Kat (Mika Kay, in a memorable performance).

Dani’s relationship with Sid (T.C. Folkpunk) is complicated, and gets in the way of her bonding with friends Mavis (Wendy Sinclair) – who is in a polyamorous relationship with two brothers – and Kaylee (Shay Steinberg), who is having relationship issues with her partner. They all come together in verve and song, with director Klassen’s performance holding the ensemble together as a masterful centerpiece. Who ever thought relationship and extinction angst could also be joyful?

Love in the Sixth
Cast & Crew Includes Jude Klassen (in red), Wendy Sinclair (blue) and T.C. Folkpunk (left) of ‘Love in the Sixth’
Photo credit: Judecast Productions

On the day before her Chicago debut, the ultra-talented Jude Klassen talked with about her unique and tune-filled import from the Great White North. This is obviously a labor of love, done with passion and featuring a group of close fellow travelers. What was the inspiration for the back-and-forth of Sid and Dani plus their friends, is it mostly autobiographical?

Jude Klassen: It was absolutely a labor of love. Everyone involved volunteered their time and their artistry. I believe in surrounding myself with intelligent, beautifully-complex people and allowing them to make me look good. Autobiographical, well sort of – almost everything in the story was inspired by a real life event or person. 

And I do play a single mom with a climate activist 12 year-old daughter… who is played by my real life politically savvy child, Mika Kay. And I did break up with my musician boyfriend the same day that I decided to make an ‘unromantic comedy.’ That said, the Sid character just kind of evolved after I cast T.C. Folkpunk to play him. T.C. brought this entirely new person to the table and we were able to jam both musically and dramatically as the story evolved. Since this is a musical, did the songs spring from the story or were some written before the movie was conceived? And since there are so many styles, which song gods were you evoking when creating them?

Klassen: Yes, almost all of the songs were birthed from the loins of the story. We summoned inspiration from Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, Leslie Gore, Grease, Debbie Harry…funk, punk, poignant…we tapped it all. I co-wrote most of the tunes with T.C., and those beautifully produced numbers like ‘F**king Love’ and ‘Mancation’ with Asher Ettinger. I call Asher my Phil Spector – without the creepy. Your “reality” in the story was filmed in black-and-white, and the musical numbers were (at times) saturated color for a Super 8 home movie look. What did black and white give you in the story sequences, that filming in all color wouldn’t have given you?

Klassen: My editors – Jason and Brett Butler – were heavily involved in my process. Without warning me, they desaturated the naturalistic dramatic parts, and depending on the emotional tone of the song, intensified the color. I LOVED it. It immediately made sense and gave extra cohesion to the storyline. Like I said earlier, I’m not opposed to having other people make me look good. For your characters, the experimental age in their twenties are over, and new responsibilities – both physically and emotionally – are coming up as priorities. When did you notice things were changing in that part of life for you, and how did you modify your art accordingly?

Klassen: I’ve always been passionate about social justice and have long ‘funked the power’ with music and comedy. I’m not so different from my younger artistic self – I get just as inspired and excited. The most crucial change is that I’m self aware now. I know when my ego is getting in the way, and I recognize self sabotage and shut it down. I practice gratitude every day and I really love and appreciate my fellow artists. And… I’m very comfortable with my inner dork.

Love in the Sixth 2
Canuck Girls Wanna Have Fun in ‘Love in the Sixth’
Photo credit: Judecast Productions Which directors inspire you, and can you point out a specific point in the film where you do an homage?

Klassen: It’s a long list. John Cassavetes, Woody Allen, Mary Harron – early on, Patricia Rozema’s ‘I Heard the Mermaids Singing’ changed my mindset about what was possible. I didn’t consciously do an homage to any one filmmaker, but I definitely based my approach on the work of Christopher Guest. I’m a writer with an improv comedy background, so I know the best stuff happens organically. Finally, what pitch would you give to your potential packed house to come out and give ‘Love in the Sixth’ a chance on Sunday?

Klassen: ‘Love in the Sixth’ will take you on a raw, relevant, rollicking ride. You really haven’t seen this film before, and very likely have never seen this side of Canada. When we were shooting the film we had a somewhat similar political situation – that the U.S. is going through now – in our country, which was a lot of division.

Many of us felt like Canada had been taken hostage and we were fighting to save our environment, our openness, our integrity, and even our future. The title is based on The Sixth Extinction, the extinction we’re creating. ‘Love in the Sixth’ taps into the atrophying of everything, including romantic love. And, you can dance to it!

The 2016 CIMM Fest – The Chicago International Music and Movies Festival – continues through April 17th, 2016. Click here for more information, and to access all of the scheduled events. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2016 Patrick McDonald,

jerome macdonald's picture

love in the sixth

fantastic talent teriffic work by the editors jason and brett butler great comedy great music what more could ask for

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