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  • 23 Oct 2014

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In Character with Amina Moreau

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Toronto native turned Portlander Amina Moreau is constantly framing--pictures, ideas, you name it. But how do yo frame an Emmy?Toronto native Amina Moreau moved to Portland three months ago, bringing with her Stillmotion, a band of storytellers who make films, commercials and documentaries and insist that’s a poor description of what they actually do. Whatever it is they do, Stillmotion has won four Emmy Awards after starting as wedding videographers.

Portland Tribune: What are you guys doing here in Portland?

Amina Moreau: We’ve been to Portland for educational workshops we’ve hosted, and every time we left Portland we felt like we were missing something.

Tribune: Now that you live here, have you figured out what you were missing?

Moreau: The beards. The plaid.

Tribune: Wait a minute. I’ve got a beard and I’m wearing plaid. And I don’t even know you. Do I?

Moreau: I feel like I’ve met you before. There was a lady the other day and she had a big laundry hamper full of yarn, and I asked her if she had some knitting in her future. And she nodded her head. And I said, “Well, it’s Portland after all.”

Tribune: Do people here knit a lot?

Moreau: People here craft.

Tribune: Yes, but are they crafty? Anyway, any favorite projects?

Moreau: We’re telling the story of a 9-year-old (girl) who once saw a photograph of two young boys with rocks strapped to their heads. She asked her dad what happened in the photograph, he explained to her the concept of child slavery. She says they should be playing.

She decided to make a lemonade stand and donate all the profits to an organization that would free slaves. She started telling people at the lemonade stand to just pay what was in their hearts. She has since made over $1 million and freed 500 child slaves. We’re going to follow her to Nepal where she meets the two boys in the original photograph.

Tribune: A touching story, but this is for a Portland audience, so, did you actually taste the lemonade?

Moreau: I did. Good lemonade.

Tribune: Things ever go wrong?

Moreau: There’s nothing worse than planning a shoot, having storyboards, the concept completely mapped out, and you show up and you’ve forgotten all your cameras and lenses back at the studio.

Tribune: How can a filmmaker forget her cameras?

Moreau: You get so engrossed in the moment, the details and the story. That story was a wedding we were shooting. I arrived at the bride’s house in the morning to capture her hair and makeup, and as I pulled into her driveway I realized I had nothing to shoot with and the studio was 40 minutes away. I knocked on her door, ran up to her bedroom, and I said, “Hi, you look so beautiful.” I gave her a big hug and said I forgot something at the studio. I acted all nonchalant. I drove 149 kilometers an hour.

Tribune: Excuse me, you’re in America now. Kilometers?

Moreau: The rest of the world is in the 21st century, using the metric system, thank you very much. It was 149 kilometers per hour because at 150 you lose your license.

Tribune: Why are you wearing house slippers to an interview in a coffee shop?

Moreau: I wear either slippers or go barefoot anytime I’m in a new situation.

Tribune: You’re going to fit right in, here in Portland. But how did your company grow so fast?

Moreau: One day we got a phone call from a lady who had been on our Vimeo watching our wedding films and crying. She said, “I’m from the NFL Network, and I don’t know why I’m crying because these are perfect strangers, but I love how you tell stories, and we’d like to see how you tell stories in the football world.”

We’re Canadians and we don’t know what football is. The first-ever football game we ever watched was on the field with full access at the AFC-NFC games.

Tribune: What games? We don’t have games. We have playoffs. We have championships.

Moreau: At that point we were asking, “What does the quarterback do again?” We weren’t concerned with semantics.

Tribune: So the film you ended up producing, did the NFL Network woman cry when she saw it?

Moreau: It was like a wedding. It was fast. It was emotional. It had blood, sweat and tears.