Emily Bridger: Her First Feature Film

It’s been ten years since Emily Bridger submitted her first film to the St. John’s International Film Festival at the age of 22. Emily hadn’t intended on directing her first film but became frustrated with the lack of diverse roles for women in film.

‘My first film I wrote because I want to act and there wasn’t very many interesting female roles out there. I think writing is still my favourite, directing is still very scary but I’m learning to love it more.’   

In those 10 years, Emily has made a name for herself as an integral part of the Newfoundland film scene. With five shorts under her belt and a feature in the works, Emily isn’t showing signs of stopping anytime soon.

Emily was the recipient of the 2016 RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Award, which she used for her short Waste It, which premiered at our Festival last year and recently screened at the Nickel Independent Film Festival. She said the experience challenged her but also made her more comfortable behind the camera.

‘I’m definitely more comfortable as a writer than a director, which was so cool about the MJ Award, I had that directing mentor to help me get through it. It was so important. That experience definitely made me want to direct more.’



Emily was paired with Toronto Filmmaker Lindsay McKay (Wet Bum, Running with Violet), and said the experience was invaluable.

‘I learned so much. Having her there I was able to try and experiment so much more. Without [Lindsay] I think I would have been a little more guarded, and afraid.’

Emily is currently working on her first feature film with director Ruth Lawrence (another alumnae of the RBC Michelle Jackson award) and producer Jenny Howley. The film, Little Orphans, was nominated by the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival for Telefilm Canada’s Talent to Watch program, and was the only film to be selected from the province.

Emily says she’s constantly inspired by the female talent in Newfoundland, especially Lawrence whom she calls ‘a pillar in the film and arts community’. Emily usually directs her scripts but said with this being her first feature she wanted to get an experienced director on board.

‘Two years ago at the Women’s Film Festival I was still working on the script, trying to figure out how to get it made. So I started talking to Ruth about how to make it work. I was nervous and asked her to direct but she was in right away.’

As well as being a director, filmmaker and actress Emily is also a mom of two children. When asked how being a mother influenced her filmmaking, she said she’s able to manage her time much more efficiently. 

‘If I have a whole week to write it’s very hard not to watch TV. But if I only have an hour I make myself do it. And I’m not as precious, I’m just gonna write this and send it in.’

Emily now resides in St. John’s. Although there are larger film hubs in Canada ripe with opportunity, Emily says she wouldn’t want to be filmmaking anywhere else right now.

‘There are so many opportunities here for such a small place and the community is so supportive. I can’t imagine leaving all that behind.’


If you are interested in applying for the 2018 RBC Michelle Jackson EmergingFilmmaker Award, submissions are open until July 16th, 2018.