I have no idea how it happened but I’ve somehow become a filmmaker. At least, I think I am. An actual filmmaker with many titles to his name told me recently after a screening of his film, “If you’ve made a film, you’re a filmmaker.”
This past fall, we premiered our first feature narrative film, THE VOLUNTEER, at Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival. We shot it two years ago on a budget of $45,000 with everybody involved - including 10 crew members, 30 cast members, and our mothers cooking three meals a day for us – working for free. It was a humbling, inspiring, challenging, and empowering experience.
After the world premiere at Cinéfest, we had a small theatrical run of six screenings at Princess Cinemas, Bookshelf Cinema, and a special screening with Wilfred Laurier University’s film school in collaboration with Grand River Film Festival. (FYI, it’s now available to rent/buy at http://buy.thevolunteerfilm.com ). We had a fantastic turnout from our community who had helped us fund the project and were supportive through the whole process.
In some ways it felt strange to get re-excited about a project we had shot two years ago; since 2012, we had produced a number of projects including a web series, a short documentary, and a short comedy, in addition to the numerous corporate videos that pay the bills.
It seems a stretch to say that my Social Development Studies degree was what propelled me into filmmaking – it didn’t. It did, however, prepare me to be an agile thinker, creative solver of both practical and artistic problems, and a keen observer of the people and events around me – those are the strengths I bring to the table. I am a generalist in a world of specialists.
I wouldn’t be doing this today if it were not for the collaboration and support from Jonathan Steckley (writer/director) and Trevor Hunsberger (producer/IT)– my partners at our production company, Rosco Films. They have skills and years of experience to bring the artistic and technical aspects of filmmaking to life and make things happen. Jonathan especially has been instrumental in taking me to film school and tapping my creative side.
Finally, my life as a married filmmaker is impossible without the support of my talented, beautiful, and gracious wife, Cheryl. We met while teaching in Japan before I fell into filmmaking and all that comes with it – the unpredictable hours, income, and absent-mindedness. She moved from Vancouver to Kitchener (who does that??) and carved out a new career in sales and interior decorating in a new city and community. It’s thanks to Cheryl that I have the best of both worlds – creative work and a fulfilling home life.