May 18, 2024


Buzz The Music

Feature film Strain sisters’ ‘calling card’ to entertainment industry

Kat and Karissa Strain have poured heart and soul into making a feature film in Chatham – now they’re waiting nervously to see if it will make one of North America’s top film festivals.

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Kat and Karissa Strain have poured heart and soul into making a feature film in Chatham – now they’re waiting nervously to see if it will make one of North America’s top film festivals.

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The 33-year-old Chatham twins have submitted Call of the Blackbird to the Toronto International Film Festival.

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They’ve actually submitted it to about 20 fests, but want to hear first from TIFF, which won’t consider films that have been shown anywhere else. TIFF’s decision is expected in mid-August.

“Whether we get in or not, we can’t gamble with any other selections until that one is passed,” Karissa said.

“It could be a longshot, but we also know festivals like that do reserve room for first-time filmmakers who have an interesting eye on storytelling,” Kat said. “We’re hopeful they’ll see our (film) and think, ‘This is interesting and unique.’ ”

It’s a fictional tale based on their real-life experiences growing up in Chatham and getting into the movie industry, Karissa said, told in a poetic, artistic way that differs from standard dramas.

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The twins have had some cinematic success, including playing mean girl twins Nikki and Lizzy in the 2013 remake of the horror classic, Carrie. They also starred in the 2018 horror movie, Twinsanity.

The Strains moved back home about three years ago and got into real estate, but their desire to work in entertainment is strong as ever and has expanded to writing, directing and producing films. They created Sisters Strain Films to make movies highlighting the female experience.

They’ve written several feature films, including a horror film they’re actively pitching, they said. But  the industry wants to see what they can do before committing to a big budget.

Call of the Blackbird is their “calling card,” said Kat.

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“I am extremely proud of what we were able to do with our limited resources and limited funds,” she said.

They put $40,000 of their own money into the project, “which is unheard for producing a feature-length film, especially a production team of two.”

Twin sisters, Strain, Call of the Blackbird film
Movie poster for Call of the Blackbird, a feature film, written, directed, and produced by Kat and Karissa Strain, who also star in the movie. (Supplied) jpg, CD, apsmc

While it was stressful pulling a feature film together in 14 days of shooting, while acting, directing, producing and even arranging catering for the crew, it was a great learning experience, the twins said.

“The biggest lesson was learning how to put a team together to fill all the roles that are required to accomplish a feature film . . . ,” Kat said. “We had a lot of fun and found the right people to support us and to bring the skill sets that we didn’t have.”

They also took a leap of faith by incorporating their own poetry and music in the film, Karissa said. About half the film is visual vignette set to their poetry, and they felt a little vulnerable putting it out there for the first time.

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They also have a full soundtrack with eight original songs, Kat said.

Having taking the plunge, the twins plan to publish their poetry before the film is shown.

By July 21 – their birthdays – they’ll each have two individual poetry collections and a compilation of poetry from the film on sale.

While they await TIFF’s answer, the Strains are looking at holding a local premiere for the film later this year.

“I think a lot of people will come out and see many faces and places that they know and love from town,” Kat said.

For more information, visit or contact them at [email protected] or @sistersstrain on Instagram.

[email protected]

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