Tag Archives: of

DOXA Delivers: Anticipating the 2013 Program

I’ve been lucky enough to be in Vancouver during the DOXA International Documentary festival the last three years and have seen some really amazing and inspiring stories brought to the screen.
Last year I participated in the Kris Anderson Connexions Youth Forum and had a full festival pass and got so many great workshops with female mentors and started my Flyryroo 2012 project.
This year the Forum is not running but I’m still going to splurge on a few tickets as it only comes once a year! The festival runs May 3 – May 12. Make time.
Here’s my list of films that tickle my fancy and hopefully yours as well. (Taken from the DOXA festival website)

Click on the titles for links to the film’s page on the DOXA program website for a full synopsis and trailer.

Lost Rivers

Looks like a eerie and beautiful film about sewers and underwater passageways that have been rediscovered and explored by people called “drainers”.

lost_rivers1_aeFree the Mind

About brain training… the neurological effects of meditation and brain exercises are studied on two veterans with PTSD and a preschooler diagnosed with ADHD.

freethemind
Rent a Family Inc.

Super excited for this one: A character documentary about a man who acts for a living in real life stories. He is often hired to walk brides down the aisle and meet in-laws, but his own family seems rather indifferent to his existence.

rentafamily
The Manor

I hope it’s not like Pawn Stars, but I always like a good family drama. Two brother’s daily struggles as they try to run the family strip club they inherited from their father… who is still trying to be involved from the backseat.

manor
Furever

Taxidermy, egyptians, funny cats… how can you go wrong? A doc that follows human’s attachment to their pets.

furever_3
The Great Hip Hop Hoax

Two boys from Scotland (oh motherland) pull an elaborate prank on an American Hip Hop team by pretending to be two Californian skater boys called Silibil n’ Brains. Not sure what to expect, but DOXA is doing two screenings so that nobody misses it.

greathiphophoax
The Mosuo Sisters

Two girls from rural China arrive in Hong Kong to be absolutely overwhelmed by urban life. For example, they think that skyscrapers are individual houses. They try to make a life but it might not be what they had wanted.

mosuosisters
The Mechanical Bride

I have always been fascinated with sex dolls. This film not only goes into the current story about sex dolls in society, but also delves into what sex might become (and is becoming) in the future.

mechanical-bride
Boredom

The scourge that invades our schools, our relationships, our jobs, our lives. What is boredom and how does it effect us and our children? Focusing on the educational system and the implications for society.

boredom

Rose Colored Glasses

Watch the trailer on this one and you will have to go to the theatre to see it. Sonia Suvagau is an SFU film grad from Vancouver and this is her debut feature. A character piece (I love character pieces) about a life-long eccentric who runs a gallery called the Pink Prison and takes on different personalities such as Pink Hitler. I want to know what’s up with this guy.

rcg-gallery

Oxyana

Oxycontin and Oceana. Appalachian fatalism. I’m not a big fan of drug documentaries but this is about how pill-popping has been spread through generations of families in Oceana and observes the lives of those who live in a city so drugged up it’s name has changed.

oxyana_14

Father Figures

I am most looking forward to this film above all. The filmmaker watches as her 70 year-old father marries a 23 year-old Philippina named Girlie. They have some strange symbiotic relationship but Gillian Hrankowski knows what lies are being told to make it work. Does she intervene and potentially hurt her father and ruin Girlie’s life?

fatehrfigures

 

 

 

Leave a comment and let me know which films you’ll be checking out!

Advertisements

Flyryroo 2012

“That’s that dude! That’s Flyryroo!”

-Flyryroo Ryan

Since May 2012, I had been anticipating the date of December 21st, 2012 because of a documentary I have been making about a fellow named Flyryroo Ryan. I paid my way through university by working as a lifeguard at a swimming pool in Vancouver. I kept on hearing about this guy whose name is Flyryroo who had been an attraction and source of staffroom gossip because he would come to the pool three times a week to workout and swim. He lived out of this van that had “Join the 2012 A-team” on the size and a website, http://www.2012iscomingtour.com. He was rumored to be living in the Capilano University parking lot and making apple smoothies for students and blazing in his van when he wasn’t playing trombone around campus dressed as jesus.  When I finally saw him for the first time, I had heard enough to make me cautious about starting a conversation with him. Being a lifeguard can be a pain because if you get stuck in a conversation with a patron on deck, you have to stay there and chat until your guarding partner comes to give you a break. Flyry was infamous to us lifeguards for starting conversations about ghosts, aliens, and the like and even getting verbally agressive when disagreed with.

Flyryroo2012

Flyryroo2012 Van

Fast-forward three years and I am now preparing for my final year of film school and writing the script for My Uncle Terry. I was inspired to write the film because I wanted to get to the root of what could make somebody believe in something as extreme as a real-life zombie apocalypse. I wanted to find a real-life subject but unfortunately couldn’t find anybody who was right for a documentary so that made my decision to write a mockumentary script. I had finished writing my script and was in the middle of pre-production in August 20122 when I had a brainwave working at the pool. I thought, “I should have just made a documentary about Flyry!” Here’s a person who really believes in the 2012 apocalypse. Albeit it isn’t zombies, but aliens are pretty extreme too. I was also dying to know what he would do if nothing ever happened on December 21st.

Too late, I was set on making My Uncle Terry because I was in love with my script. Regardless, when I was working at as an M.C. at the Deep Cove summer concert series Flyry showed up with his trombone. I could see him standing at the top of the hill when I made my announcements before the show started. I cringed at the though of him busting out his trombone when the reggae band Mostly Marley was in the middle of a set. I crossed my fingers, and while the band gave a little nod to his presence Flyry never tooted his horn.

I approached him during the second set to pitch my documentary idea to him. I introduced myself assuming he didn’t know who I was, but he recognized me from the pool. I told him I was very interested in him as a person, and would like to make a biographical documentary about his beliefs in 2012 apocalypse theory. He was pretty excited about the idea and was interested in the publicity it could create for him as a public personality. Then as the summer wound down, film school got crazy and I threw myself completely into my final year as a film student. I worked so hard I got whooping cough, and needless to say I didn’t have time to pursue Flyryroo.

In May 2012, I got to participate in the DOXA Kris Anderson Youth Connexions program. DOXA is a documentary film festival in Vancouver and the program took six female youths and gave us a week to produce a 1.5 minute documentary, attend exclusive workshops and seminars with female industry mentors, and all the free movie screenings we could handle.

Flyryroo 2012 still

The theme for our 1.5 minute documentaries had to be “The Glass Ceiling”. It was the second year they had introduced a theme to the workshop films, and the first year’s theme was “The City”. I didn’t think this was very fair, because I had already set my intentions on making my doc about Flyry as an intro to a larger project. I fought back and ended up making the only non-female documentary by arguing that Flyry was fighting his own kind of glass ceiling.

Flyry and I got together and filmed three hours of footage in two days. I learned that he is an self-titled “Infotainer” (someone who entertains but also gives information pertaining to a new world consciousness, peace, love, and urban farming). He had been planning three world-tours to take place in 2011, 2012, and 2013 where he would get a band together and infotain at festivals and sow the seeds for an enlightened world and prepare the public for the day the aliens finally became public.

Flyry and I

The end-result was a trailer for a documentary webseries, Flyryroo 2012. The intent was to release a 5 minute video on the 21st of every month as a countdown to the bookmarked day of the apocalypse: December 21st, 2012. I learned that Flyry didn’t actually believe that December 21st was a definite day of doom, but rather that aliens would make their presence known to humans on earth sometime that year and help enlightened people ascend to the fifth dimension. Still, the date was fixed in my head as the wrapping up point of the film and it stayed that way.

Well, things didn’t turn out as planned. I went to India for 2.5 months and was prepared for this by making (in-advance) 2 videos episodes to release when I was away. When I came back, I had 2 weeks to shoot enough material for another 3 video episodes. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out with Flyry and I’s schedules and he was starting to feel too pressured by my time constraints and I had to change plans.

Flyryroo2012

I went off travelling again, taking My Uncle Terry to the Montreal World Film Festival and then playing the Indian groupie at TIFF in Toronto since I knew some filmmakers whose movies were playing for the City to City program special on Mumbai cinema. I took off for a month to South Africa and played the tourist, and then stopped over in England for my cousin’s wedding in London on my way home.

During this time, Flyry and I did not keep in touch. I had seen on facebook that he had his van broken into and his computer stolen, and gave my condolences but nothing more. When I got back to Vancouver in November, I settled myself in for a couple of weeks and then finally got in touch. Flyry was now living in a house!

So we got together and made a plan for finishing the project. We agreed to shoot December 21st and see what happens. Flyry’s views on 2012 had actually changed quite a bit since we had last filmed so I was definitely interested in what had brought that about. Flyry had no big plans to ring in the new age of Aquarius but I encouraged him to think of an event or something he would like to do. The day before the big moment, I called Flyry letting him know I was prepared with my camera batteries charged and he told me he couldn’t get anyone together for an event.

He said that he didn’t mind because he would rather just do laundry, because even though it was December 21st, in the grand scheme of things it was really just another day. I didn’t mind this attitude, but wanting to see him put himself out there and make connections with people like him I told him about a facebook event I had been invited to by a guy called Eric Bullock. The plan was to hang around Science World all day meditating in groups, playing music, and wrapping it up with a flower ceremony. Flyry thought about it, but as he was on his way to work he didn’t give me an answer and we agreed to reconnect later.

Flyryroo2012 Swimshorts

At 10:30 pm, Flyry called me back and said he thought about it was down to go to the event at Science World and do his laundry later. So the next day I filmed a quick video update, grabbed my camera and went to Science World and Flyry and I participated in and filmed the event. We went back to his house later and did a personal interview. I included myself in this since I realized that I was no longer just observing Flyry but actually participating in his story and having an influence on him.

So here we are now. I have just finished importing the footage and am cringing at seeing my face on screen after a day of freezing rain outside at Science World. My hair is a mess. Regardless, the shooting for Flyryroo 2012 is now finished and I will get a chance to edit it in March 2013 when I get back from my next India trip.

I hope you all stay interested until then. This is my first real project since finishing film school and I’m dying to see it succeed in some way. Honestly, I just want it to be seen. I have a feeling the film will be a short documentary that is not only about a strange guy with extreme beliefs and a curious yet cynical documentary maker interfering with his process, but about the way the process of making the documentary transformed both of them up to the day December 21st, 2012 and beyond.

To see all the Flyryroo 2012 videos, visit the youtube channel.

Follow Flyryroo 2012 on Twitter

Like Flyryroo 2012 on Facebook

You Can’t Polish a Turd

This is probably the best advice I have ever been given. The man who said it was Murray Bulger, my high school Information Technology teacher and the person who introduced me to making videos when I was 16 years old.

The context was this: If you’re making a film and the story is bad, the camera work is bad, or the sound is bad… the film is going to be bad. The saying “Fix it in post” is only used with sarcasm with the people I work with these days. Sometimes a poor shot can be excused or even made to look intentional, but an audience that has been trained to watch films with the suspension of disbelief will almost always pick up on the one or two bad things about a film because it automatically draws attention to the fact that they are spectators and not really involved in the story.

The term, suspension of disbelief, refers to a spectator getting ‘caught up’ in the story and forgetting they are watching a movie. When an element of the film draws attention to its own artifact, the suspension of disbelief is broken. This is often not what narrative filmmakers want. In order to make a seamless film, it is therefore necessary to make sure every facet is executed to its best potential.

When I started making films, I was very controlling of the production because I didn’t trust my crew to meet my standards. This resulted in my domination of the production and doing every job possible by myself. As I went into film school, this persisted for the first couple of years partially because of the nature of my projects. I was making experimental and documentary films with no more than two subjects, and that made it easier for me to handle camera, sound, direction, etc. As a result, the production quality was not as good as it could have been because I simply couldn’t focus on camera and properly conduct an interview at the same time. I legitimized this with the nature of my projects, but I wonder now if I chose to make those films because of my distrust of other people’s competency.

In my third year of film school, I finally gave up some control. I got Remy Siu, a composer, to do some work with soundscapes for my documentary “The King of Cassiar” so I could focus on the editing and my other schoolwork. In my experimental documentary “Index: Alexander St.” I had the amazing Jon Thomas take charge of the camera and the film would not have been the same without him.

This is when I got another amazing piece of advice from my production teacher, Bridget Hill. “Figure out what you’re not good at and stop doing it!” The message being that if you haven’t made any progress after three years of film school, it might be best to start letting other people do the work for you for the sake of the project. This hit home for me and I realized that the only reason I was doing it all myself was my own unattainable goal to be good at everything. I don’t believe all humans were created equal because I know very well that there are some cinematographers out there who have an eye for lighting that I lack, and to be honest, camera operating has always scared me because I am not great with my hands (another thing I struggled to admit).

And so it began, my slow relinquish of control as I embraced the merits of teamwork. At this point most of the people in my class had found their niche and specialty. I could take advantage of different people’s skills for my film and trust that they could deliver at least the same quality if not better than what I could do. I think it’s too bad that I didn’t realize this earlier in film school because I believe that some of my projects could have been better had I only built my relationships with my classmates sooner. However, by the time I had to shoot “My Uncle Terry,” I had a great crew that was appropriate for the project and they all did a better job than I could have.

My Uncle Terry poster for our graduation screening

My Uncle Terry poster for our graduation screening

The turd polishing metaphor might not apply to all kinds of film. A documentary can get away with a lot more than a fictional narrative because the audience is more willing to forgive. The same exception applies for student films. When a film is experimental, people will probably assume whatever is “wrong” was done on purpose and sometimes narrative filmmakers don’t actually want the suspension of disbelief throughout the whole film. There have been whole movements that reject how Hollywood has shaped the expectations for narrative film such as Dogme 95, started by Lars Von Trier.

However, a traditional (read Hollywood) narrative film has to be perfect in every way to suspend the disbelief of the audience, and the only way to accomplish it is by dividing responsibility among team members you can trust. If one part of the film is bad (doesn’t support the story) then the film is a turd. You can polish that poor line delivery all you want, but it’s still bad. Sorry but it’s true.

I think the above information is well known to many of the experienced filmmakers out there whether or not they learned it through experience the way I did. However, I hope that this modest story of an important lesson reaches someone out there who is like me and helps them succeed at making better films. Filmmaking should not service an ego but should be done for the sake of the project.