Canadian filmmaker follows parents’ smoking journey from first puff to last breath.
At the tender age of six, Paige K Boudreau’s mother died of lung cancer. Both her parents had smoked for as long as she could remember, and the passing was an unfortunate inevitability. Though heartbroken by the loss of his wife, her father continued to smoke, and when Paige looks back at photos of him, he is rarely without a cigarette in hand.
After her dad passed away from lung cancer last year, Paige felt compelled to express his journey cinematically. She thought it was important that people not only understand the consequences of smoking, but also the reasons why many continue to foster the addiction. “I want to show the person behind the smoker,” she says.
Paige’s film, Up in Smoke, will follow a fictional representation of her father, from first puff to last breath. She aims to explore the role that smoking can play over the course of one’s life, from that of a comforting and even fashionable “friend” to a shameful and forbidden secret.
The story will also chronicle her father’s struggle with quitting, which he tried to do many times. “Even though he wasn’t able to quit successfully until after his diagnosis, it wasn’t for lack of trying,” Paige says. “I want people to understand how hard it is to stop smoking once you’re addicted, and to consider whether the perceived positive aspects of cigarettes are worth the repercussions.”
To get the wheels moving on her project, Paige was awarded a grant from STORYHIVE, a Telus Optik Local community funding program for Alberta and B.C. creators. Now that she’s equipped with the resources she needs, she’s hit the ground running for a project deadline early next year.
So, what does Paige hope to gain from Up in Smoke? “In addition to expressing my personal connection to the subject, I would like to convey compassion and understanding towards people who smoke, and lessen the stigma around failing to quit,” she says. “If I can motivate even one person to quit smoking, it will be worth it.”
Keep your eye on QuitNow and the BC Lung Association in the new year to see Paige’s dream come to life in Up in Smoke.