- How long have you been working as a filmmaker?
I think that I have been subconsciously a filmmaker for a few decades but I didn’t do anything about it. That is until about three years ago, I was the guy that wouldn’t take the plunge. Then, I committed myself to learning about scriptwriting and I never looked back. For a few years now, I have been teaching myself, with the help of the internet and how-to-videos, the art of filmmaking. I am a self-taught filmmaker and I have some acting and theatre training from back in the day, but other than that there has been a lot of sweat and blood put into scouring the internet for tips, tricks, and sound advice about filmmaking. All of this has led me to make my first short THE WINEMAKER, which is Phase One of three that culminates in a feature film.
2. What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
One day, I just realized that I wanted to express myself creatively as ideas and thoughts kept coming to me repeatedly. I would later figure out that those ideas were visual images, scenes, and dialogue for a film script. From all the movies that I have watched in my life (and that’s a big number), it was clear that I was creating movies with my imagination. So I ended up putting quite a bit of energy (before and after my day job) into studying screenwriting and filmmaking. Then, after a year of writing, I wrote my first screenplay, but I realized that what I wrote was either a $150 million dollar live action film (like The Lord of the Rings) or a $30 million animation (like Spirited Away). I want to direct my own projects, so I put my first screenplay on the shelf and learned how to make low budget Indie films and I came up with THE WINEMAKER film series that starts with a short that leads to a web series and culminates with a feature film.
From a young age, I have always loved movies and now I have done something with that love; it took me almost two years after the first script was done to reach this point in time. I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the path that I want to be on and that it couldn’t have happened any other way, except the
way it did. There is a running joke in my house about a viddie that I made two years ago, where I said I would be done in six months; my children walk around our house and act like me and say I will get my six month film done in two years. They are quite good at imitating me. They are hilarious and we can laugh openly about it. It has been a good life lesson for all of us.
3. Why don’t you tell us a bit about this project? What’s the general plot of THE WINEMAKER?
THE WINEMAKER short is a standalone project that can also act as a teaser for what is to come with the web series and the feature film. The overarching plot or synopsis for the film series is as follows:
Vic leaves his marital problems behind and goes on a winery tour. Along the way, he repeatedly sees two children or does he? At the vineyard, Vic meets THE WINEMAKER, who plays a deadly game of cat and mouse. At the climax, THE WINEMAKER forces Vic to decide to save himself or the souls of the two children.
One of the taglines for the film series is #theWinemakerknows and you have to watch the whole film series to find out what the Winemaker knows. In a nutshell, THE WINEMAKER film series is a psycho-thriller, with some classic horror motifs added in for good measure.
4. What inspired the idea for the movie?
Like I hinted at before, I had limited money and resources to make a film. When I wrote my first script, I wrote what I was passionate about at that time but without the awareness that I wouldn’t be able to film it. So after that I learned to work within my means and while I was researching about how to make an Indie movie, I often read the same thing: use what you have around you and write what you know. Then I spent quite a bit of time figuring out what was around me and how I could incorporate all these things into a movie. Simple things, like my house, my vehicles, a tree in my backyard, my family, etc. You would be surprised at what you have available to you, if you really start to notice.
This way of limitation opened up my mind to some interesting plotlines, images, and prop ideas, which started jumping out at me. I ran with them and would write dialogue, plotlines, and images down that came to me from the muse. This went on for over a year, along with studying all aspects of filmmaking and then I would have to take a break and work to make an income and then get back to THE WINEMAKER film series. One quick side note is to also look at all the available resources at your local library, which for me was amazing. I used a 3-D printer to make some props for THE WINEMAKER.
After a while, I realized that I had a lot of things to work with within my world (my house, backyard, and neighbourhood, etc…) without having to bring in expensive special effects and plots and storylines that I wouldn’t be able to film when I was finished writing my script. The long and short of it is that for me having limitations worked wonders and it challenged me to think ‘inside the box’ not ‘outside of the box’ and the end result is going to be THE WINEMAKER film series. Here it is important to bring up the point of embracing what makes you unique, to find your voice, for me THE WINEMAKER is my voice. Give some weight to what makes you who you are and create from that place.
5. What has been the most challenging part of creating THE WINEMAKER?
Getting my mind around how all these characters are interconnected and then being OK with new ideas that flesh them out more, because at the start I was afraid that I was losing a character, when in fact the characters were becoming richer, but I was just too inexperienced to realise this. Being patient about the creative process and respect the muse, as she only whispers her ideas to you. You have to learn to recognize when you are actually getting a new idea and then writing it down and going from there, wherever it leads you.
Be comfortable with the unknown and walking down that path. A lot. Whatever makes you uncomfortable, go there in your writing and see what happens and then be open to simple moments that tie together two characters or two scenes. Creativity is not a loud process when it happens; it is quite the opposite and when nothing is happening creatively: do not be hard on yourself. Relax and move on to something else and you will be rewarded when you least expect it. Don’t have certain expectations about how something is meant to be, because this just closes the doors of creativity.
6. What impression are you hoping to leave your audience with after they view
That THE WINEMAKER is a NARSIESSE original film series, even though I may pay respect to some great directors; I have done it in a way that reflects my vision and my interpretation of a given moment in time. And that you can incorporate Art
influences film references into your films, regards of whether or not you are making an Indie movie or a so called studio film. I want to show others that they too can create a film with smartphone tech, add-ons, apps and that it can be quite powerful and impactful. In the next ten years, this will be the new norm of filmmaking: using smartphones to make feature films. In the end, I want my audience to always remember once and for all that #TheWinemakerknows
7. What qualities do you think make a great film, and could you give us a few example of films that you would consider great?
That all depends on the film really, because think of how many great classic films there are; they are all different but still legendary. Think of what David Lean, John Ford, Stanley Kubrick, and Akira Kurosawa have produced in their careers. All have a repertoire of great films under their belts. What makes a film great is that it has the signature style of the director, when you see a film you say, oh yeah, that is a Kubrick film or that is without a doubt a film by Kurosawa. This means that they made it their own with their own voice and they had a specific vision for each film that they created. They all had an eye for detail and sometimes took a genre in the opposite direction, like Kubrick, who turned a war movie into an absurd comedy. So go down the list of films that these folks made: Lawrence of Arabia, The Searchers, A Clockwork Orange, Rashomon, you could spend days talking and analyzing any one of these movies and still not reach the bottom of the well. I could watch any of the films from the above directors over and over and still see and learn something new.
8. What philosophies or beliefs, if any, do you follow when creating a film that you believe are integral to making the film great?
One important thing for Indie filmmakers is to stop racing to the bottom to say that they made the cheapest film that they could, because in most cases it will look just that: cheap. There is a weird pride in doing a film for no money that must stop. I also think that however long it takes to make a film is how long it takes, but don’t abuse this remark. Because if you are not actually working towards your end result and the film takes years, then this isn’t the same as struggle with plot points or location or actors or weather or etc…be honest with yourself and be the filmmaker that makes his movie; not the filmmaker that just says they will make a movie. Always be open to ideas and don’t say no to an idea that comes to you because you never know where it may lead. One way to see this is to think of a game of chess, you may have to look ahead five, ten, fifteen, or twenty moves down the line to see if one move is good or not. This concept I learned from Kubrick (who was a great chess player by the way) and he would be open to new ideas and look at what he produced with that mentality. I am in good company and let’s leave it at that.
9. What advice would you give to someone that wants to create an Indie film of their own?
Pretty much what I was saying before, do your homework and get a good group of people around you to support you. And by this I don’t just mean a good film crew, just have good people around you. Give yourself the time that you need to find your own signature voice, whether it be a writer, director, cinematographer or whatever. You have to learn the craft and it takes time, start out small and work your way up from a short to a feature film and think twice about going to film school, because all that money used for tuition can go to your film’s budget. Learn from those that have gone before you, research how other indie filmmakers made their first film, whether it was a short or a feature. A bonus from doing your research is that you will realise that great filmmakers often had the same
struggles that you are having right now. You have to pay the price of admission, because all those overnight success stories you hear about were ten years in the making.
You can also figure out some way to cross promote your film with other Artist like I am doing right now as we speak, try to find a fresh way to get your film out there to as many people as possible. Too often filmmakers are so worried about their own projects that they limit their effective audience, when they could increase it.
10. Where can we follow you to learn more about your film and any other projects that you may be working on in the future?
I mostly only do twitter so you can find me on there. My handles for THE WINEMAKER film series are:
I also have another handle @ArtIntoFilm with the hashtag that I created #artinfluencesfilm, which has great international interaction and input. As of now you find over 700 examples of where Art has inspired cinematic moments throughout the history of film. I do have website http://www.TheWinemakerfilm.ca coming out soon and I will have one more interesting way to connect with all my projects to the masses. I am proud of the cross promotion idea that I am running along with my film series, because I get to showcase some great talent that is a part of my twitter community.
Since THE WINEMAKER is planned to become a mini webseries, each part will be a continuation of the last or will they all be separate, but connected through
various themes and ideas?
The four part mini web series will be a combination of both but leaning more towards the continuation of the overall plot ideas, themes, and characters. The web series will develop the players a little more but still keep the air of mystery around the whole project. That’s about as far as I want to go with that.
Throughout THE WINEMAKER film series, I will combine several of my passions: First Nation mythos
Art influences film
The last one is where you create a scene that recreates a piece of Art that suites that moment. This has been going on in cinema since its inception. Art has a
powerful impact on our psyche and the great directors have drawn on Art to inspire their work for a long, long time and I want to be a part of that tradition.