Monday, April 21, 2003

I almost forgot to mention one of the high-lights of yesterday. We got to see my cousin Matt's film project, Where's Peter's Pecker? It was wonderful (and I'm not just saying that because it's my cousin's film). It was hilarious and very well put together. I hope that he's good and proud of himself because he's done an excellent job! Here is an article which was featured recently in the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal:

Nail-bitting time for film students
By Kris Ketonen - The Chronicle-Journal
April 11, 2003

Expect some squirming and thumb biting this weekend at Confederation College as members of the film program’s graduating class show their efforts to an audience for the first time.

And while it makes for some nerve-wracking moments, the value to a filmmaker of a full-fledged screening can’t be denied, program instructor Dennis Austin said.

You never really know how good a film is until it’s on the big screen in front of an audience. It’s what Austin called the “Zen of the whole thing.”

There will be 23 short films shown this weekend at the college’s lecture theatre. They cover all subject matter, from comedy to drama, experimental to animation. And they go to various extremes.

Matthew Cook’s film, Where’s Peter’s Pecker?, is a comedy about a man who loses his penis. Brent Fitzmaurice describes his offering, Little Things, as a dark All in the Family, where Archie kills Edith in the end. He’s been driven crazy by all those little things.

The students bring these films through all stages of development. They have to pitch ideas to instructors, who act as producers. The students need to convince them the ideas are worth backing.

Instructor James Eastwood said those ideas get “pounded.”

But films aren’t really censored for subject matter, as long as they’re within reason, Eastwood said. One thing that could scuttle a project, for example, is if the cast or crew could be put in danger while filming.

Once the students successfully run that gauntlet, production begins. They assemble a crew — mainly from other students in the class — audition and cast actors for the roles, secure locations in the city, film and finally edit the picture.

Then it’s all laid out there on the line at the gala film night.

“I’m looking forward to showing it to an audience,” Cook, 24, said. “My main goal is I just want to make people laugh, and hopefully I can do that with this film.”

But those audience reactions are a tricky thing, the 20-year-old Fitzmaurice said.

“You’re putting everything that you thought would be good in a film,” he said. “If it turned out bad or if someone doesn’t laugh at a moment where you thought it would be a guaranteed laugh, I can see it being very, very stressful.”

There could well be some real gems up there on the screen this weekend, Eastwood said. The two-year program and its students have won their share of awards for past projects.

However, the program doesn’t chase awards. If it did, Eastwood said, it would likely mean all the resources would go into just a few projects. With the current format, every student gets a chance to make a film if they choose.

Then again, there’s nothing worse then an accidentally brilliant film, Eastwood and Austin say. It could give students an inflated sense of ability, which could lead to a rude awakening when they’re out in the real world.

There’s no denying the learning inherent in failure, Austin said.

“It’s better to miss a high mark,” he said, “than nail a low mark.”

Whatever happens this weekend, Cook and Fitzmaurice are both confident the skills they’ve learned at the college’s hands-on film program will prepare them well for what awaits on real movie sets.

In fact, making Little Things was “one of the best experiences of my life,” Fitzmaurice said.

“I was thinking about going to other film colleges,” he said. “This one, you can’t beat it. Once you get here, they hand you a camera within a month to make a movie.

“In any other film school, you’re lucky to touch a camera in your third year.”

The films will show tonight, Saturday and Sunday in the college lecture theatre, with a 7 p.m. start. Tickets are free, but go quickly.

No comments: