Voodoo at VIFF

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MR: The most stressful thing that happened to us was the day where we had David and Ali Liebert. Ali had to meet up with some friends on Vancouver Island so she had to catch a ferry and David had to take off because he was, I think, presenting an award at a science fiction conference, so we knew we had a short day with them.

We started early, Saturday out in New Westminster, we set up the camera ready to go at eight in the morning, and the camera didn't work. We had no idea why and it was a Saturday so we were trying to get some tech help on it and were trying to arrange to get another camera . We were losing time and it was the only day we had scheduled for David and Ali: it wasn't like we could make it up on another day.

Our day, which was already going to be about six hours of shooting, ended up getting cut in half. We finally did get a new camera on set. It turned out that a fuse had blown in our camera because we were shooting on a sixteen mil cam.

It was really stressful and what we had to do was basically try to figure out how to get all David's and Ali's stuff in that amount of time because their schedules conflicted and there was no chance of rescheduling. We only had three hours with them on that day.

It was a simple solution. We ended up just playing a lot of their scenes in longer takes. I think it was a happy accident because they really played off each other really well. So instead of leaving it up to the editor to get al their timing and everything, they did it so naturally and it just ... we were all stressed out, in a panic and trying to not lose our cools (laughs) but I think it worked out for the best actually.

WD: What has been the response to your film so far?

MR: It's been good. It was done through the Kick Start program so we had a private screening back in April with the all of the cast and crew and some of the DGC members that came out. We've just started sending it off to festivals and the first ones we heard back from were Vancouver and Edmonton.
It's exciting to be playing Vancouver because that's where most of the talent is from.

Because it has a film noir vibe, there are some film noir groups down in the States that have expressed interest in tagging it along with some of their festivals. We're just entering our festival run but the response has been good and I think we're going to have a good year with it.

WD: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

MR: I'm really into narratives but I was introduced to a documentary project entitled “Blood Relative”from another filmmaker that I came out of UBC with, Nimisha Mukerji (65_RedRoses).
I got talking to her and she had a project she wanted to do in India and she was looking for someone to shoot and edit so I came on board.

We've been to India three times over the last year and are going back in November, which hopefully will be our last shoot. We'll probably be there for two more months. We've got the Knowledge Network on board: it's in production for them.

It's a bit of a diversion but it's been a really interesting project. It's a different approach to story because you're getting it after the fact in the edit and you're constantly unsure how things are going to play out. It's been a lot of fun, and being in India has been an eye opener on so many levels.

I've been working on a feature script as well, which is I want to get to after this is wrapped up for the Knowledge Network. But right now that's what we've been up to. The project was pitched at Storyville and got a lot of response from other broadcasters.
It went well, which was exciting because we started last year November, December and so you're doing a lot of work with no pay so it can kind of get to that point where... but it's been really rewarding.

I feel very fortunate about is being a part of the Kick Start program. It's been in limbo since the year that I got the Kick Start grant. It's been shut down due to Arts cuts. My understanding is that it's just been suspended but still, a year's gone by where we're not going to see the Kick Start films coming out.

It's such a vital source of funding for up and coming filmmakers so it was sad to see that. Finding funding is harder to get across the board, but especially for people just coming out of film school I feel like it's going to be really tough on them.  A tip of the hat to Kick Start is we did get Colm Feore to narrate the film and Camille Sullivan, and David Nykl: we got some really amazing talent on board and they didn't do it for the money.

There's really great talent out there who you're seeing on the big screen and you're seeing on TV who are also out there working with young filmmakers on the independent projects. I think we've got a really supportive arts community and so hopefully that funding comes back to help the new filmmakers coming up.

It's a tough time right now so hopefully Kick Start can get back on its feet: it's a great program. Also, the NFB has a filmmakers' assistance program which is thankfully still there, but the Kick Start program's budget for filmmakers was substantial so I think that's one reason they'll be missed.

For screening times and tickets, go to www.viff.com

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