So, if you’ve been following along with my blog for awhile you’ll remember that last year I gushed about a TIFF film called Cole which was directed by Carl Bessai. So, this year when I found out he was coming to VIFF with not one but two films I bought tickets immediately.
When I tell people who don’t know me or aren’t part of the community - you know “regular” people - what I do for a living I usually get “oh, like in film and tv” and then I have to explain to them that, no, actually, in something called the the-a-tre. After that there is always an awkward silence. At this point I just find it funny whereas I used to find it annoying. Because many people who know me know that working in films or tv is not my ultimate destination. I know shocker right?! I’m kind of a theatre purist in that way.
But after seeing Cole last year and hearing them talk about the making of the films it made me start to think a bit differently about it. Now, I’m not saying I’m going to up and leave the theatre industry to pursue Hollywood. I’m just saying that if the opportunity came along to work on the right project. A project like Cole. I might consider it.
Because the thing is when you hear Carl Bessai talk about filmmaking - which I’ve now had the pleasure of hearing three times - you can see that it isn’t about celebrity or being famous (which is what I equate with most Hollywood film and television projects) its about making great art. It just so happens that his medium is film. He’s a storyteller just like the rest of us. And I happen to really like his stories.
The first weekend of VIFF I went to the screening of Carl Bessai film #1: Fathers and Sons. Jay Brazeau, who many of you will know from the Vancouver theatre scene, is hysterical. He plays a Russian (I believe) father to Ben Ratner’s son and in one scene they have a knife fight that is amazing. This film is much different than Cole in that it is made through collective creation. Something we hear a lot about in the theatre world. They do this in films too? Who knew?! So all the scenes are improvised around a central theme which is the relationship of Father to Son (or vice versa). It’s funny and poignant and has a very raw feel to it. It’s been so popular that they’ve actually added an additional screening on the 15th of October at 11:20. So go check it out. You won’t regret it.
This past weekend I went to Carl Bessai film #2: Repeaters. One of the films three leads is Richard De Klerk who also played the lead in Cole (The one thing you’ll notice about Carl Bessai films is he recycles a lot of the same actors) and also helped to produce the film. This time instead of Lytton for Cole they used Mission for Repeaters. And they all moved out there to make the film and had their offices in an old Residential School building they used to shoot the film. And again, they just went out and drove around to find cool locations and stumbled upon a BC Ferries junkyard that plays a part in the final scene of the movie. It's a pretty intense thriller and there is another screening of this film on Thursday, October 14th at 6:30pm so I won't spoil it for you.
When you hear Carl and the actors talk about making the films they speak like they are a small family. And, I like that. Because that is exactly what I love about theatre. The intimacy. The small intense amount of time you spend with people creating and telling stories. And, if that same feeling can be translated to the filmmaking process, then that is a process I might want to be a part of some day.