Kaniehtiio Horn is done waiting to play a lead role.
“I figured it was time I took matters into my own hands,” said Horn. The actor, who has played recurring roles on Letterkenny and Reservation Dogs, will be making her directorial debut with her upcoming film Seeds, which she wrote and will produce and star in. The narrative follows the story of Ziggy, played by Horn.
“Ziggy left her rez after having her heart broken and is living in Toronto. She is summoned back home by her cousin to house sit while everyone is away. Meanwhile someone is trying to access her family’s special corn, beans, and squash seeds, and she must protect them at all costs,” Horn explained. “I know, it’s wild. It’s gonna be a fun ride and ridiculous at the same time. So strap in!”
The film, which Horn describes as a “home-invasion comedy” is inspired by some of Horn’s favourite movies. She first got the idea for a comedic home invasion from watching Home Alone and Shaun of the Dead, the latter of which she also cites as a big comedic influence on the film’s script and her directing style.
“Shaun of the Dead is one of my all-time favourite films. I think it’s the characters’ grounded performances in the ridiculous situations and the humour that comes from that which I love, as well as Edgar Wright’s fast-paced editing style,” she said. “Anyways, I had to figure out what the person invading my house was after, and I thought corn, beans, and squash seeds would be funny.”
Seeds has an Indigenous cast, which Horn mostly selected from her network of friends and professional connections from past projects.
“I mostly knew everyone involved in terms of the Indigenous casting. It’s a small group of us, especially in this age bracket. The people under 30 have a lot of competition now, which is amazing. But us old people, there’s a handful of us each with varying skills and things that make us stand out,” Horn explained . “Again, I really wanted to just work with friends, no egos, and people who believed in the weird project.”
Horn said that she had some actors already in mind for some roles, and that for others, casting became immediately apparent during the audition process.
“I always knew I wanted Meegwun Fairbrother in it since the very beginning. He is playing my hunky boyfriend. Dallas Goldtooth I wanted for a long while too, and he’s been a homie for 10 years; he is playing my cousin,” she said. “Dylan Cook, who I know from Letterkenny, blew me away in his audition. Casting Graham Greene was easy. I told him about the project a long time ago, and he said no matter what I needed, he would support me. I am so grateful that he did this.”
Horn has ample acting and production experience – she is currently a producer on Shorsey, a Letterkenny spinoff – but she has enjoyed the opportunity to have more creative control as a director.
“Directing and producing sort of just came as a necessity. The humour is very much my own, and I felt like eliminating the conversation between myself and the director was sort of an easier way to go,” she said. “I didn’t want to have to explain every joke to the director, so by being the director it was easier. People I respect in the industry kept telling me I could do it and seemed to believe in me more than I believed in myself, so I just dived right in, there was no turning back really.”
Seeds is the first project to come out of Horn’s production company Kaniehtiio Horn-Batt Entertainment, which she said also has a number of other projects in various stages of development. Though she’s not yet sure when Seeds will premiere, she hopes to screen the movie in Kahnawake once it’s completed.
“Perhaps we’ll have a showing in town next summer,” she said. “And I’ll try not to die from anxiety when that happens!”
This article was originally published in print on Friday, July 28, in issue 32.30 of The Eastern Door.