No matter where he is working in the world, Guy Godfree always feels an attachment to his home.
Godfree, originally from Pugwash, knew as soon as he read the script for the feature film Maudie, he wanted to work on it. And he did as the film’s cinematographer.
“It just hit close to home in the best way,” he said from California, about reading the script. “It’s Nova Scotia. It’s where I’m from. After reading the script, I wrote an impassioned letter about why I felt strongly about making the movie, and it made its way to the director, Aisling Walsh.”
The Pugwash District High School Class of 1998 graduate went through a series of interviews and was offered the position.
As a child, Godfree remembers when the Maud Lewis exhibit at the Nova Scotia Art Gallery opened. His mother had a similar style of paintings – using bright, simple colours.
“I knew that part of the world,” he admitted. “Maud was always part of that scene.”
Having worked on a number of other feature films as a camera assistant, Godfree had strong ideas of how the movie should be made visually. He didn’t want it to have a postcard quality, feeling that would be too glossy of a finish for Maudie.
“I felt as though it wouldn’t be the way I would represent her. It needed to be done in a more raw and rugged way, more true to the hardships of Maud’s life. I felt her sense of humour and imagination needed to shine through.”
Growing up in Pugwash, Godfree and his siblings were exposed to the arts – theatre, movies and music. Godfree was also into photography, being the high school’s yearbook photographer for many years.
All of those combined lead him to a career in film, working on sets in Halifax and Toronto for about eight years.
In 2009, Godfree returned to school for a masters equivalent program at the American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles, followed by a specialization in cinematography.
“It was a good move – it brought my work up to another level.”
Because of his work on Maudie, Godfree was honoured recently with the Theatrical Feature Cinematography award through the Canadian Society of Cinematographers. The win, he said, was completely unexpected.
“There is so much strong work out there, otherwise,” he said. “It was interesting because I’m so attached to my work. It’s difficult to have a sort of fair viewpoint.”
With showings of Maudie selling out across the province, Godfree was “floored” to hear of the response shown.
“It’s been lovely hearing people respond to the film. It’s emotional. It’s sad. I’ve been getting so many messages from people saying it looked beautiful. It’s nice to hear that.”
Maudie is the seventh feature film Godfree has made, all being unique and special in their own way. He said the films make their way to festivals, then go on to limited releases.
“I was floored to hear all the news from back home. It was such a strong response. It’s really special.”