Today was one of the first days over the last month that I have had time to myself. Clearly.
I have been all over the map both figuratively and literally lately and haven’t had a good chunk of time to sit down and write something cohesive. Here I sit, drinking a smoothie and listing to Alabama Shakes (pun intended), and I am going to try and stay focussed enough to give a full report of what I has happened lately.
First things first, it needs to be Spring. I am tired of Winter. I find myself perpetually in long underwear and 3 layers of clothing. And frankly, there is only so many times I can wear the same sweater before I feel like cartoon and not a young man who has invested in his wardrobe.
From March 16th to the 22nd my class and I were in Toronto filming a short that was directed by Paul Gross, it was a stellar project for me. I was the “lead” character in the film which was a challenge for me in many ways: It was great to feel what it is like to hold a film, to constantly be on screen and how to develop an arch throughout the shoot. It was something that I haven’t had the opportunity to do in any of the shows here at the school so it was great to finally feel that. Paul was a great director for me and had a very clear idea of what he wanted from me and the character which helped me to solidify my own ideas of who the character was. I was on set for about 36 hours out of the 3 days we were shooting and it wasn’t really until the final day of shooting that I felt back at home on set and felt confident in what I was doing. Although it hasn’t been THAT long since I was on a film set it was a different vibe, as each one is. The crew was fantastic and were all really great people who genuinely wanted to create something meaningful. Everyone was positive and seemed to be enjoying their job. All of the crew were professional and had worked with Paul on one occasion or another, so it really allowed us as a class to focus on our process and how to adjust to this “new medium”.
I struggled the most with the idea of trusting that my work was coming through on camera. There were moments where Paul would get frustrated because it seemed like I couldn’t follow simple directions like: “slow down and then when you get to the pole run across the street.” When what was happening in my mind was that I had become so preoccupied with staying true to the character that I would hear the direction but then not be able to execute it. It’s seems simple. and it is once I started trusting that my work was shining through. Eventually on the third day of filming, and one of the final shots of the day I found a connection with the camera, suddenly we were in sync and I discovered the rush that comes from playing with the camera. I didn’t have to worry about anything anymore I just lived, as the character, and was aware of the camera. Instead of ignoring it or being scared of it.
Paul is such an awesome resource and an extremely generous man, who just made the whole experience that much more incredible. To know how much respect he has for the art and the people involved with crafting it was really inspiring. Here is a man that is one of Canada’s darlings who has had a long and lucrative career still excited about what he does and has positive and insightful stories. I really appreciated him taking the time that he did to prepare me for the industry and inform me of my habits and how to get them under wraps so I can push through and get what I want. After we wrapped, Paul took us to see what goes into the editing process and I was blown away by the amount of work that is required in post production. It, again, humbled me and made me realize how small my part is in the birth of a film. Looking back, I gained even more respect for all the aspects and energies that go into making a film, even a 15 minute one.
The few nights that I had to myself in Toronto, I got such a pleasure out of walking around the streets and imagining myself there in a few months. As I have said, I certainly don’t want to rush my last few weeks here at the school, but at the same time I am ready to jump head first into the industry and never look back. I am anxious to meet new people and hear about other things besides the school and the drama within each class, including my own. I am tired of popularity contests and having to always get the right answer. I am tired of competing. Whether it is in my mind or not, I am exhausted with trying to give the most intellectual answers, and be the most clever person in the room all the time. I am tired of there constantly being a double edged sword; some people can do whatever they want, say whatever they want, but as soon as I do it’s too far. I want to be separate from the unit that is my class. I want freedom, I want a life of my own. Every time I have been in Toronto over the last year I have gotten so excited about the possibilities that await me there.
This is not to say that I am not proud of my classmates, I am. Watching them on camera filled me with pride. Everyone in my class is talented, thats never been a question, but it is difficult to be surrounded by someone who might like you one day and have no patience for you the next. I feel like I am in a constant state of adaptation and I just want to be me, in all my forms, not just the ones that accommodate others. I am anxious to get out, but at the same time know that once I leave I will be wanting the security of these walls back. The schedule, although intense, is comforting. The student loans, although accumulating, make life easy.
This week we started our individual rehearsals for the New Words Festival, our class is divided and we work on the plays written by the 2 graduating playwrights. I am in The Circle, written by Geoffrey Brown and is being directed by Ann-Marie Kerr. I have been wanting to work with Ann-Marie for some time now, as she lives in Halifax and is married to Anthony Black, who in my opinion is one of the strongest artists in the maritimes. Rehearsal has been going wonderfully, Ann-Marie is so energetic and excited about the possibilities of this project and her positivity resonates with all of us in the cast. She makes me feel comfortable and able to just try things, rather than fitting into a box or getting things right. I have a lot of confidence that the piece is going to really mess with peoples expectations of both Geoff, as a writer, and the cast. I am really excited to cap my education off with a stellar show and well developed character and I know that Ann-Marie is leading us down that path.
I have made a lot of discoveries over the last few months and will hopefully have more time to chronicle them more regularly in the next few. I have singed with Lorraine Wells & Company in Toronto and both her and I are anxious to get my career in gear. I am working hard to get myself to the city as soon as possible post graduation, and that is where my journey will continue.
I am ready to escape.
P.S. If you missed Bone Deep at the Atlantic Film Festival or have yet to see it at all, you can hop over to CBC and see the performance which garnered me an ACTRA Maritime Award nomination for Best Actor. I am extremely proud of this film and hope that you enjoy it.
This film was recently accepted into the NSI Online Short Film Festival, and who knows what will happen next!