By Aj McDowell
Simon Paluck thought of the plot for Emma while writing a play in his first year of high school. Now in his last year at Ryerson, he has brought the idea back to life for his final project. Emma is a fictional story, but the inspiration has come from his real experiences.
While working on transitioning the script from speech to film, one of his close friends was diagnosed with cancer.
“[It] pulled me into the world of childhood cancer and the story kind of shaped itself from there,” said Paluck. “I was kind of like a sponge soaking up this new world that I’d never been exposed to.”
Emma closely follows the life of depressed 17-year-old Jayson.
Jayson joins the school newspaper and is sent to expose a classmate’s rumored pregnancy, but instead, finds out she has cancer. As the plot unfolds, the two characters become friends and discover the importance of love and friendship.
While most movies about cancer venture into the dark realities of the disease, Paluck’s film takes a different approach. He said that although treatment seemed to have its ups and downs, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t all negative.
“It’s supposed to be a happy film because it’s about life and love and letting go,” said Paluck. “Even in that environment, there’s still life, there’s still love, there’s still friendship, there’s still all those wonderful things that other people don’t think are there.”
But Emma has become more than just a project. The personal connection Paluck has to the film drove him and his team to hold a fundraiser for the Make A-Wish Foundation. They raised $6,000.
“I’m super lucky to have an amazing group of students working on this. The support has been amazing – both inside and outside the program,” said Paluck.