Film student follows food to Ontario farms

Sagi Kahane-Rapport (left) and Dylan Sher (right) are directing and producing a documentary Before the Plate

Fourth-year film studies student Sagi Kahane-Rapport is directing his first big-budget, feature-length documentary.

The documentary Before the Plate takes a single dish from Toronto’s Canoe restaurant and follows the ingredients back to the farm.

“It was cool purely from a learning perspective. I’m a city kid and I don’t see any of these [farms] ever,” Kahane-Rapport said.

Canoe is a prestigious restaurant in the financial district of downtown Toronto. Regional executive chef John Horne cooked the meal featured in the film, and travelled with the crew to the various farms the ingredients originate from.

“Canoe has a really strong Canadian identity and chef John Horne has a great personality,” Kahane-Rapport said.

Before the Plate’s producer, Dylan Sher, has been friends with the director since they were children. When Kahane-Rapport got onboard, to Sher, it was the best decision he made for the film. “[Sagi] brought the project to a new level. I didn’t know what we have now was even possible, it looks like a movie,” Sher said.

The production team hopes to demystify how food travels from the pasture to the plate.  

“There’s a bit of a disconnect between the farmer and the consumer,” Sher said. “This project is to help show people where their food comes from but we’ve taken the approach of doing it through food and cooking.”

Sher and Kahane-Rapport traced the 10 ingredients used at Canoe back to the source by going to eight farms across Ontario, filming through the spring and summer. On Jan. 16, they finished filming and began the editing process.

Above is a map of the locations Sher and Kahane-Rapport went to and what they thought about each location.

“It’s still being put together and it’s a huge challenge,” Kahane-Rapport said. They have 31 days of footage and they’re planning to finish before the film’s premiere, which is slated for the summer.

“There’s two editors and I am editing myself,” Kahane-Rapport said. “You just gotta slog through it. It will go through a few more shifts before we find out what works best.”

While they were filming, the crew became familiar with numerous issues: from acquiring funding to filming at the right temperature and weather conditions.

“We drove out, we took the chance and sometimes when we got there [the farmers] took the test, waited for the samples and [they’d tell us] nope, too cold, too wet or too whatever,” Sher said.

Despite the difficulties the team faced, they still have a strong affinity for their craft.

“At this point, all of the filming is done, I did my best to make it what I could and now it’s in the hands of the editors, and myself to guide them, but we have to keep pushing forward,” Kahane-Rapport said.

Before the Plate will premiere  Aug. 5 at the Isabel Bader theatre on 93 Charles St. W.

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