Some friends require a little assembly. Directed by Jeremy Lutter (Vancouver Island, BC) and writer Ben Rollo (Victoria, BC) Joanna Makes a Friend is an MPPIA (Motion Picture Production Industry Association of British Columbia) award winning film about overcoming loneliness that asks the question “Do robots make better friends than humans?”
Joanna is a lonely little girl struggling to fit in and is unable to make any friends at school. Her slightly odd tastes and love of HP Lovecraft mean that the kids at school tease her. Often sitting alone under her favourite tree on the playground, Joanna sketches her dark whimsical inner world; ravens, eerie tea parties and tentacle creatures reaping revenge on the meanest of classmates. Eventually, she takes matters into her own hands and builds her very own robot friend out of spare Betamax VCR parts found in the garage. Appropriately, she christens him Edgar Allen Poe-bot, or EAP for short. Her new friend is a big hit with the kids at school and all too soon EAP chooses the limelight over Joanna. Finally Joanna is faced with the fact that she must make a real friend.
Together Lutter and Rollo have brought to life a modern day fairytale story for the lonely or isolated child that we have all experienced. The theme is a personal one for Lutter who spent the first ten years of his life as an only child moving around a lot with his family. Often starting at a new school without any friends he shared the same feeling of loneliness as the protagonist in the film. Eventually he too was forced to make a friend and in junior high met Rollo where the two combined efforts to hand-in scripted videos instead of essays for grades.