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Spotlight

Spotlight

Talking to DGC Members from across our country about their craft 

DGC QUEBEC PRODUCTION DESIGNER: PATRICE VERMETTE

In terms of cinema, you've worked on some legendary films in the Quebec cannon ? C.R.A.Z.Y, Enemy, Sicario and Arrival to name a few. What is the process for creating these striking visual worlds and how do you find inspiration?

I always take the same approach, more or less. After I read the script for the first time, I instinctively start collecting images and making sketches. It's sort of my scrapbooking phase. I sort them according to where the action takes place: images of textures, light, places, colours, art installations and everything that comes to me and that was influenced and inspired by that first readthrough. I then move into an intellectualization phase. I try to get at the symbolism to create visual metaphors to support the scenes and character development. These two steps come fairly easily and naturally. I build mood boards, which help me communicate and dialogue with the director, cinematographer, location managers and, of course, producers. It's the critical phase of my approach, and it's what determines what comes next. After that, everyone can build in the same direction. I really get the impression that the sets, just like the cinematography, music, costumes, etc., exist to support the story, not to monopolize it; it's important to be invisible and remain at the service of the film. It's all a question of modulation, a bit like a bass line.

What are some tips you would give other production designers for doing a great job?

In short, don't change who you are. It seems silly, but you have to be honest in your approach. That's the best support you can give to the director. That's what we're there for. Our opinion is a tool, so never second guess yourself in order to please others. That's the worst mistake you can make. Or just don't take the job. I couldn't give the best of myself if I didn't 100% believe in the project.
The other tip I could give is to be aware of your strengths, but especially your weaknesses, and surround yourself with the best people possible who will be able to compensate for them.

What is your typical day like on set?

A typical day on set is relatively simple for me if everything has been well prepared. In theory, there shouldn't be any surprises for anyone. So, I present the sets with my set designer and my art director, and we explain the latest details to the team. We then have to head out to prepare for the coming days and iron out any problems so that everything runs smoothly for the technical team on the next shooting days. In fact, the art and set design teams very often work in advance of the shooting team.

How did you become a production designer? What steps did you take to get to where you are?

When I was a student at Concordia University, I dreamed of writing music for films and to make albums. I kind of missed out on my career choice. But actually, I find it's very similar. You have to create moods and try to understand the deeper meaning of scenes to give them their own flavour.I started learning through video clips, short films and ads. Lots of ads. Way too many ads. It was through those experiences that I met the amazing people and directors with whom I've had the immense pleasure and chance to develop affinities and especially to share dreams. What I take away from this is that through clips, you learn from your mistakes and also to develop your own style. Ads teach you precision, the art of selling (which is no small feat) and to perfect a certain signature. Short firms get you to tell true stories and apply what you've learned.

How has the DGC helped in your career as a production designer?

The DGC helped me broaden my experience once I entered the world of feature films. The DGC is a vital association for further advancing our profession, for us and for generations to come. As other associations have already started to do, it is critical that the DGC be able to represent production designers beyond feature films.

Can you talk about your involvement in the DGC Awards and the inaugural DGC Discovery Award?

I've always been interested in Canadian film in general. In Quebec, we are extremely lucky to have our own language and, by the same token, we have developed our own star system. This has enabled us to showcase our identity and that of our creators.
On the other hand, I really get the impression that it's a huge struggle in English Canada. There's so much talent, but that talent has a tough time surfacing because it seems to get drowned out by the US film industry, which has much greater financial means for promotion. I find that sad. We need to work together to find solutions to bring more visibility to Canadian talent.
We are lucky to have the opportunity to create within a fully subsidized system that isn't based on box-office success. That's huge; we have to continue to use this leverage to develop our own identity a strong signature.
The films submitted for the DGC Discovery Award were simply confirmation of the immense diversity and promising future of Canadian talent.

What has been your favourite project to date and why? 

Honestly, they're all different. I put 110% into all of my projects, and they've all brought me something new. I grew through each and every one of them. It's like a chain: every link is important. Without Les Mots magiques, there would be no C.R.A.Z.Y. That film gave us wings and the desire to go further. Without that film, there would be no opportunity to goof around in England on The Young Victoria. Without that film, there would be no Oscar nomination. Enemy is an artistic meeting and a liberated approach. A buddy trip. Without Enemy and The Young Victoria, there is no Prisoners, and so on.1981 and 1987 are films that did me enormous good. Arrival was an extraordinary and deeply personal experience last year.
There is cinema, but across the films, there are the encounters, the friendships and the sharing between people with the same passion. That is the most beautiful thing about this profession. The energy of all these people heading in the same direction. It's not a profession, it's a calling.


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Patrice Vermette is a Canadian Production Desinger/Art Director who has won numerous awards including the Genie Award for Best Achievement in Art Direction/Production Design and a Jutra Award for the best Art Direction for his work on C.R.A.Z.Y. His other work includes 1981, La Cite, Cafe di Flore, Enemy, Sicaro and most recently Arrival. Vermette was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Art Direction for his work on the film The Young Victoria.

 

 

Spotlight

Talking to DGC Members from across our country about their craft

DGC ONTARIO DIRECTOR: APRIL MULLEN

April Mullen is the Director of Below Her Mouth which pushes the boundaries for cinematic sex and premiered this past September at TIFF 2016. Shot by an all-female crew,  TIFF programers called it “one of the boldest and sexiest dramas of the year.” 

This film was shot using an entirely female crew. What was the inspiration for this?

AM: With Below Her Mouth, we wanted to bring to life something audiences had never seen before on screen: an honest depiction of a truly female perspective on desire, love, intimacy, sex and heartbreak. The goal was to capture an electrifying moment of intense chemistry between two people when they least expected it.

In every department we wanted to bring a female touch and gaze to the screen when it came to love and sex. This “female gaze” included lighting, sound, wardrobe, camera movement, editing and music etc.  In order to bring this story to life we needed to expose our female voice, creativity and truth.  Hiring an all female crew allowed our original intention to be strengthened because everything came from women. It was also an essential part in allowing our actresses, Erika Linder and Natalie Krill, to have a safe and comfortable place to reveal their desires and be intimate. They needed to know they were supported and had the trust of all involved in order to go to the extremes they went to in their performances.  There was so much respect on set for them and our mission. It was a unique and transformative experience.

Can you talk about your experience working with these women on the film?

AM: On set we were able to create a supportive environment that allowed every woman to stay true to herself. The voice of the film is so strong and honest because of that.  Working with all of these women we found a very fluid communication style and seamless work flow to enhance the experience. It was rewarding and empowering to watch each key woman excel in her department.  Everyone brought so much of themselves and their truth to the table; it was an honour to bring that to the screen in all forms.  I believe the results of having an all-female crew can be seen on the screen.

The film is being called sexy and bold. Can you talk about your experience directing this content and the benefits and challenges?

AM: 99% of my exposure to sex in film, TV and media is something that was written by a man, directed by a man, and made to turn men on. This fact was something that was always on my mind while filming Below Her Mouth. I struggled trying to stay true to my inner sense of sexuality as a woman, and create a filmic narrative that was free from the usual images, positions, sex you would normally see in a male driven film. I had to constantly remind myself to forget all of the “movie sex” I had seen before.  Instead, I reflected inwardly on what turned me on as a woman – what were my inner desires, what made me want to be physical with another person. These are the moments I wanted to bring to the screen.   Another one of my big goals and challenges was to isolate our leads, Natalie and Erika, so that the rest of the world would disappear as it does in life when we fall in love. To allow the actors to feel extra protected and safe to break down any barriers and be vulnerable; to champion their connection and allow them freedom to express themselves.

What is your background in directing and how has the DGC helped you in your journey?

AM: My background in directing is through creating my own work with Wango Films; Tim Doiron and I started the production company after graduating from Ryerson Theatre School.  I started in the industry as an actress and spent years on set observing behind and in front of the monitor.  I am from the indie feature film scene and have slowly gone up in budget levels when it comes to features, that being said I just recently joined the DGC.  Since joining I have found it to be a very supportive community of very talented people.  The DGC has been there recently on my new journey into the TV world and they have been very helpful with the transition.  It’s fantastic to be a part of such an important union of creative minds here in Canada; I look forward to getting to know more members and the DGC as a whole.  

What advice do you have for female directors and other directors looking to make their film sets more diverse and inclusive? 

AM: It’s an exciting time in the industry. There is so much talent and so many new voices out there.  I love working with the younger generation as much as I do the older one.   The mix of experience and wonder is intriguing and creates an interesting dynamic. Each film is so specific with its own creative needs, it's important to find the right fit every time.  I love hiring women; there are so many talented ones out there to recognize, you just have to find them.  I hope the percentages of women in film continue to increase.  It’s a long-term transition as we are still a long way away from a balance, but I believe awareness is important so the younger generation of women know it’s possible.  In terms of advice, I would say, stay open minded and pick the best individual for the job.

 

 

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A director known as much for her versatility as she is for her passion, April Mullen's latest directorial offer Below Her Mouth is a relentless love story shot entirely by an all female crew.  She was recently honoured with the Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film.  Her previous features include: 88, an action thriller and Dead Before Dawn 3D, which confirmed April Mullen as the youngest person and first female to direct a live action stereoscopic 3D feature film. The film was celebrated for its technological achievements and awarded the Perron Crystal Award. Mullen is co-founder of the independent production company Wango Films, alongside Tim Doiron. The company has produced five films to date. A true maverick in the feature film world, Miss Mullen is known for her bold and stunning visuals, ambitious shooting style, strong performances and unique voice.

 

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Spotlight

Talking to DGC Members from across our country about their craft

DGC ONTARIO DIRECTOR: ANNIE BRADLEY  

After the TIFF Game Changers panel, which featured female leaders in film, television and VR, we sat down with DGC Director Annie Bradley to discuss her current projects, the importance of mentorship and more.

What made you decide to speak on the TIFF Kids Game Changers panel today?

Because I am a polite girl and when someone asks me to do something I say yes [laughs]. I felt like I had something to add to the conversation. I had the experience of being in the middle of that change. Technology has democratized the process immensely, so it’s kind of an exciting time. It’s also somewhat of a scary time because they’re hiring less directors, and the competition is getting fiercer. There are a lot of challenges. I was also really excited to meet the girls from the VR world and the gaming world. They have faced major obstacles and yet they seem so optimistic and are a vital part of the game-changing dynamic. I look forward to getting to know them better and maybe collaborating with them at some point.

Did you have a female mentor when you were trying to get into directing?

When I was a first assistant director I didn’t get to work with many female directors, but there were a couple of them that were very encouraging to me. Stacy Curtis comes to mind, Maggie Greenwald was another. I also had a lot of really talented men who encouraged me – Roger Spottiswoode and the late George Bloomfield. I was working with George  when I got into Women in the Directors Chair right before I quite ADing. He was like, “Don’t look back, just keep going the other way. Get on the directing train and take all the risks and walk away from all the security and go for it.” George was so excited for me and was such a gracious, lovely, talented human being.  Luckily today, there are more female directors to inspire me. Those who tell stories about women that are somewhat different, who take risks.  Like Andrea Arnold, who has a unique and original voice – her first film Wasp and my film Tongue Bully were at Sundance the same year. The Catherine Hardwicke’s and the Kathryn Bigelow’s, who tell powerful stories with great craft and delicacy and tackle difficult subject matter.

Can you tell us about Film Fatales and what this group is trying to do?

Film Fatales was created by a woman named Leah Meyerhoff out of New York City. It started off as a group of women that got together because they needed support and has grown to over a dozen chapters around the world from Paris to Australia to Beunos Aires.  They were female independent filmmakers coming up against the same glass ceilings. The support of getting together and lifting everybody up was a powerful and positive thing. We all meet at the same time – the first Monday of the month, at 7pm around the world. We also support each other at film festivals, through screening attendance, panels and press. We have curated pages on major crowdfunding pages so that Film Fatales members can get to the front page and have a better chance. And it’s there to support and lift up all female filmmakers around the world, to share work and create new alliances.  Two documentary filmmakers started the Toronto chapter here – Nicolina Lanni and Chloe Sosa-Sims.

Can you talk about some of the mentoring that you do?

I was just invited up to Yellowknife with a program I created called Uncovering Your Vision. It’s a really magical place.  It just so happened that all the people who signed up for the program were women. So we had 7 or 8 women in the room. It’s a one-on-one intensive about developing your authentic voice to understand what it is and what you have to say as an artist. You leave with a clarity of vision. Even people in the program that weren’t directors developed an idea that they wanted to make into a film and some have since had their films come to fruition. I feel that mentorship is important. It’s important to coach people on how the business works and what it’s really like. I think there’s a certain level of naivety that still exists in the business because many of them have not been out on a floor that they don’t control. They’ve made independent films or short films with their friends or people who are supportive to them. But stepping out onto the floor of a television series that’s already a freight train in motion or coming on board a project that’s already been funded and is being driven by the writer and the producer is a very different paradigm and there are a lot of holes to avoid in the road.  But I feel my greatest gift as a mentor is to teach people how to figure out what they have to say. I think having knowledge about your authentic voice is what separates the great filmmakers and great television makers from the rest of them.

Do you think finding your authentic voice is the best way for women to break out of intern level and support roles into roles where they have more responsibility?

I think that part of what uncovering your authentic vision does is make you feel empowered. It makes you feel like you have the right to take up space in the room. That’s when you start to say “I deserve to have a seat at that table – I’m creative, I’m talented at what I do, I’m a team player, I want to make you look brilliant for hiring me, and I deserve that opportunity just like every other guy.”  There’s a confidence gap they have with a lot of women. I have confidence because I was a first AD. It was a gift for me, but it was also what stopped me from becoming a director in the eyes of a lot of people because it was seen as a non-creative job. Now I use it to my advantage.  “She knows production, how to step onto the floor and run a crew. I don’t have to worry about any of that.” I think we need to be mentoring women to feel more confident, and to develop the skill set that they need.  Knowledge is power. I try to tell women “You can’t just be great with actors. You can’t just be technically excellent. You’ve got to know the full extent of the craft. It doesn’t matter that the men are always going to give their buddies jobs when they aren’t ready. You’ve got to let that go and say “We’re just going to take over by being excellent.”

Did you have a moment where you felt you deserved a place at the table and deserved a voice?

I had made a film called Tongue Bully which is still one of my favourite films I’ve ever made. It was shot in Cuba. I was no longer a first AD and was a an emerging director. I was working as a waitress in this beautiful little restaurant called Olivia’s that was full of film people and I was serving Bruce McDonald and Jerry Ciccoritti dinner.  The phone rang and it was a programmer from Sundance and they said, “We just wanted you to know that we loved your movie and it’s going to be playing at Sundance.” I just put down the phone and screamed in the middle of the restaurant. It was Friday night dinner, 8:30pm, Bruce was like, “Let’s get some champagne.” The whole restaurant was cheering. It was like “I belong at the table.”

Is there something that you do actively to make your crews / projects more diverse?

I’m pretty well known for my diverse casting. It’s a huge focus of mine. When I mentor students I always push them to ask “What if that person was of a different race? -  in a wheelchair? How would that enrich or support the story? How would that uplift the theme of what you’re trying to say?” At the end of the day  I’m a woman and I’m a filmmaker and I love the underdog and the under-represented.

What projects are you currently working on?

 I’m doing a project right now and it’s truly exciting. There’s a short version and a feature length version. The short is called Blowback and the feature is called The Stand. Basically it’s a story about a female cop.  I’ve been secretly meeting with female cops for about 2 years now doing research which is pretty horrifying. There is a story on the NPR Strangers podcast called “Worth Saving” that they saw me tell in a storytelling room and asked me to tell on their podcast. It’s is sort of the reason I needed to make this film.   I understood intrinsically from being a woman and  a director that I was doing a job that is still perceived as a man’s job. I thought “That’s challenging enough.” But I’m not risking my life every day. So what if I was trying to fit into that patriarchal paradigm and my life was threatened every day, as either a military person or police? I was very interested in the fact that I had not seen a woman saving herself in a movie. Save her children, save the family, save her husband, save humanity, save the future, yes… but not herself. And this story is inspired by how I saved myself in a very life or death situation. I wanted to see a woman who was making bad choices and trying to fit in because she just didn’t believe she could ultimately win. She gets set up and a lot of bad stuff happens. In the end though, it’s about redemption. This woman who has made bad choices because she doesn’t believe she deserves any better finally realizes that she does. I wanted to see that story told in a really visceral, terrifying and powerful way.

What advice do you have for female filmmakers?

Learn the craft.  Just start making films, even if they’re crappy. Make them on your iPhone.  We get caught up in people waiting for people to say we’re enough, waiting for people to say we’re worthy, waiting to say we’re deserving. We have to find our own way in, and make opportunities. And learn to say no- it’s really powerful.

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ANNIE BRADLEY is a multiple award-winning writer/director whose resume of international credits spans film, television, music videos and commercials. A director member of the Directors Guild of Canada, she is also an alumna of the Sundance Film Festival, the TIFF Talent Lab, the CFC Directors Lab, Film Fatales and Women in the Director's Chair. Her work has screened on five continents and has been featured in American Cinematographer. Well known for her distinct filmic style and diverse casting, Annie is currently at work on a number of film and television projects developed through her company The Heat Mansion. Annie’s female ensemble anti-romantic comedy feature The WBI,  which she co-wrote, just landed on the “It List” of the top ten best unproduced screenplays for the 2016 CFF Harold Greenberg Fund Script Contest. She is also the co-creator of Ir-Reverend, a 1⁄2 hour comedy, which placed 6th in the worldwide 2015 JFL Comedy Pro Pilot Pitch and was a quarter finalist in Screencraft’s 2015 TV Pilot Launch. Next up she will be directing her short thriller Blowback with Peter Mooney (Camelot, Rookie Blue) and Joanne Boland (Strange Empire, X-Men)

 

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Spotlight

Talking to DGC Members from across our country about their craft 

DGC BC DIRECTOR: CHARLES WILKINSON 

Could you talk about the highlights and the challenges of making your DGC-Award winning documentary Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World?

CW: All day.  The highlights are obvious.  Just being able to spend time on Haida Gwaii in an inquisitive role creates a set of memorable experiences.  Filming in Europe, I used to sort of feel the echoes of all the human triumph and tragedy that’s gone down there – especially in the 20th century.  But in Haida Gwaii there’s 14,000 years of one continuous human culture.  Consider that the pyramids were built less than 5,000 years ago.  You sort of feel that there.  That’s the challenge too - you want whatever you do there to somehow be real and true to the place and the people, and at the same time have something relevant and maybe even helpful to say to people who have never seen the place.  

When you first set out to make this documentary, what was your hope or your intention?

CW: First of all I wanted to make a hopeful, constructive film about the environment for people who don’t identify as environmentalists. I saw and see on Haida Gwaii some reason to hope that we’re not entirely doomed. I also wanted very much to tell a story that has a lot to do (although not entirely so) with First Nations culture and history without appropriating the voice and remaining clearly an outsider looking in. My interest in Haida culture was and is that I think the white business guys who came to exploit the resources initially were in such a hurry to grab the stuff they could convert into quick cash and run that they missed the most valuable resource – the Haida world view. The non-First Nations Haida Gwaiians who have come to the archipelago get that for the most part. That was the story I came for. Ironically, after making the film I had the amazing honour of being adopted into the Haida Nation, so now it’s pretty much becoming my world view as well

This film is part of a series of three documentaries that all have an environmental angle, the other two being Peace Out, and Oil Sands Karaoke. What was the inspiration for making this series of documentaries? When did you first have an idea you wanted to make these films?

CW: When I was a kid sitting around the campfire with my dad and his brothers listening to them bitch about the unintended consequences of the electrification of the country.  I grew up understanding that when I switched on a light I was participating in something with a very dark side to it as well.  That’s the long answer.  The short answer is one summer I realized I had some free time, could borrow some gear, my son wanted to hang out with me camping, and we had a car that ran.  Road trip!  That was Peace Out.  It led naturally into the Oil Sands Karaoke project.  Which depressed us so bad that we had to find something positive – Haida Gwaii.

What advice do you have for documentary filmmakers about following their inspirations or ideas through to fruition, especially if they aren’t sure how to embark on a project?

CW:I feel a bit awkward giving advice. I’m still learning, still screwing up every day. I guess the place I have most often gone wrong is when I’ve forgotten it’s all about the story, the people and your heart. I spent years directing and developing dramatic long form movies. Often I’d start from the point of view “What does the market want?” It took me way too long to understand that a story that comes from there isn’t often worth much. Now it’s: “What do I care about?”, “What makes my heart soar?”, “What makes me angry?” and "If I could sit down and tell a quiet story to a group of people I love, what story would I tell them?".

I think maybe a piece of pretty good advice is to try hard to be realistic about your chances and your progress and your goals. Everybody wants to direct. But in reality I’ve found very few people actually have the temperament for it, have the gene that actually makes you happy and fulfilled doing it. And I’ve seen so many people flail away at it year after year, turning out adequate work, hoping for that big break, when they could be putting their life, brains and heart into something they’d be truly amazing at. I spent years directing mainstream drama, thinking I was headed for a studio film. It took a real shake-up for me to realize that’s not my skill set. It’s not even what I want – doing tent pole projects about super heroes and stuff far from home and family. I realized I’m much more suited to making small documentary films about real things with a tiny group of people I love. I love the work. Getting locations for free, cutting sound, scoring, mixing, all of the more or less invisible stuff. What I don’t love is the visible stuff, the “Oh my god, the director” stuff. The schmoozing, the chasing famous people, the one-upping, the looking past the person you’re talking with at TIFF to see if Marty Scorsese just walked in, having to mix with people who call famous people they don’t know “Bobby” and “Marty” and “Leo”, the certainty that your self-worth is a function of the box office on your last picture – that bullshit.

Also, in the actual filmmaking, I try to avoid the gimmicks, the incessant time lapses, drone shots, rapid jump cuts, unmotivated camera moves, 90 degree camera positions. Back in the day that stuff was freeze frames and zooms and swish pans. Those techniques were things the filmmakers I loved would never use. Over time I’ve tried to develop a way of telling a story that’s quite measured, some would say slow, I guess, but enough people seem to like it that I’ve been lucky enough to be able to keep working. I feel uncomfortable cutting with sound bites – you know, have the expert in front of the book shelf say one short blurb then cut away to something new. If someone treats me like that in a conversation – lets me make one short statement then cuts me off – I’m offended. Why is it okay to do that in a movie? I let our subjects speak in paragraphs. That to me is how conversation works – which is what I hope our movies are – conversations.

By the way, when I say “our” I am referring to my life partner Tina Schliessler and I. She co-produces all my films, co-shoots, co-edits, co-suffers. It’s an amazing partnership.

Can you talk about how the DGC has helped you in achieving your goals as a documentary filmmaker?

CW: I’ve been a member of the Guild since 80-something.  The folks at BCDC and at National were my mentors, my role models, my co-workers, and finally my friends.  Crawford Hawkins beat the hell out of the American series producers in Vancouver to make them hire local Canadian directors.  The Guild created a situation where a whole generation of us got to make a living directing drama.  I served on the local and national board for years. We got some important work done but it was a blast hanging out with all my friends from across the country and learning their regions.  I’d say that the Guild did more to create a sense of what the whole of Canada meant to me than any other single organization in the country.

How did you get to know your subjects and get them to open up for this documentary? What kind of research did you do in preparation?

CW: Coming from decades of drama and loving to work with actors, I cast very carefully for these documentary films. We’re drawn to people who know a lot about the subject, yes. But we’re also looking for things like gender and racial balance, appearance, and ability to speak well. But mostly we look for knowledgeable people who say surprising things in a way you’d like to sit down and have a glass of wine with them over. Research mostly starts at the library downtown. I generally start with Genesis and work forward. Honestly, I really feel I need to know the back story. The research never stops. All the way through prep, production and post my ears and eyes are always open to relevant details that pop up. I also used to browse 5 or 6 major news web services daily for updates – before the recent US election and our new prime minister’s sacrificing long term environmental health to short term corporate economic interests with the big energy projects in BC – the pipelines, LNG, and Site C Dam. I can’t bear to watch that stuff now. It’s toxic.

What was the day-to-day like shooting this documentary? Was it structured or did you wing it? Did you spend more or less time on it than you expected to?

CW: It was both structured and spontaneous. Tina and I are pretty much it. That’s the crew. So we can be as flexible as we want. We convert the economic savings of a tiny crew into a very long schedule. We had a structure, a pretty clear shape to the story. So like with a drama, every day you’re filling in a blank spot in the jigsaw puzzle. But working small, when something crazy comes up, we go there.

We spend around 3 months shooting, all tolled. The movie took 2 years to make – which is long for us. Oil Sands took exactly 12 months. As will our current show.

How did you budget for the making of this film? Can you talk about how you secured funding?

CW: The key to our business model (feels weird using grown-up words like that) is that our budgets are small enough for one broadcaster to make it happen. Our broadcaster has been the wonderful Knowledge Network – the most successful public broadcaster on the continent I believe. Rudy B and Murray Battle are terrific to work with. Murray is a brilliant commissioning producer. His input has a real impact on how these stories unfold. And we’ve been working with the brilliant filmmaker and good friend Kevin Eastwood who has executive produced our last 3 films.

What is your next project?

CW: We’re at rough cut stage on a feature documentary about the housing bubble. Our hook is Vancouver’s crisis, but it’s a story repeating itself in many major centers across the globe. It’s a subject most everyone has an opinion about and fingers are being pointed every which way. We’ve been constantly surprised at what turns out to be real in the story. And I can tell you, there are some dark things slithering beneath the surface of most of our cities. But mostly, like the Haida Gwaii film, it’s a love story about the city that’s tolerated, nurtured but I think mostly humoured me for my adult life. It will hopefully premiere in April - with a lot of luck.

And as an after note – I’m working with Barry Greenwald and Hans Engel to encourage a new generation of directors to join this great organization such that hopefully you’ll be seeing the DGC bug on a bunch more cutting edge films in the coming years.

Best regards to the story tellers!

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Charles Wilkinson is a Canadian writer/director of a large body of both documentary and dramatic film in a career that spans over 30 years. His documentary films including Down Here (2008), Peace Out (2012), Oil Sands Karaoke (2013) and Haida Gwaii: On The Edge Of The World (2015) have played around the world and have received numerous national & international awards. Haida Gwaii: On The Edge Of The World won the top award at Hot Docs – the largest documentary festival in North America in May of 2015. The film went on to become the 2nd highest earning Canadian film per screen in winter 2015/16. It’s a film where audiences are finding some solutions to our global sustainability dilemma. Charles is currently working with his partner Tina Schliessler on a documentary about crazy real estate, and how we can gain some measure of control over the places we live. Charles lives with his family on an inlet near Vancouver.

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