How Many Days is just one piece of the “Gavin Puzzle” as you are involved in many other projects, but we all know filmmaking is your first love. What is your first memory of wanting to be a filmmaker and how did you turn that dream into reality?
When did I decided to torment myself for the rest of my life? Well there’s a few crucial moments or maybe you would call them turning points that have lead me here. Way back in the day my parents took me to the movies very early on. I remember seeing ET., Return Of The Jedi (several times), Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom (really hurt my arm and sat through the whole film just so I didn’t miss it), The Dark Crystal… the point being, my parents saw that I was obsessed with movies from very early on. I used to recreate scenes I liked with my action figures all the time. I’d dig the Star Wars sarlacc pit in my sandbox; whatever it took to be authentic. As I got older, my father would rent me great movies. I’d be 8 or so and he’s bring home Terminator, telling me how it was a fantastic science-fiction film about robots and time-travel… or Highlander… basically giving me a basis of film education and much of what are still my favorite films. So I’ve always watched movies… over and over. I remember being really attentive to the angles, the way shots looked, the way music affected the emotion of a scene.
I remember always wanting to play around with my dad’s Super 8mm film camera. It was for home movies but I was in love with the idea of looking through the viewfinder. I loved nights we’d make popcorn and I got to help work the projector in the basement to watch the film reels. From that 8mm camera… I graduated to my first time operating a VHS camcorder. We had a family vacation to Disney World in 1988.. which makes me ten years old at the time. My parents rented the camera at the front gates. They had a day rate or something, so you took the camera, bought a blank VHS cassette and off you went to document your day with that famous mouse. Instantly I wanted to be the camera operator. I think I missed half of Disney World because I was fascinated with filming. I shot moving shots off the train that tours you around. I interviewed my family members about how the trip was going. I’m yelling “Action!” at my bro as I cue him to walk into frame with the castle in the background. It’s really funny for me to go back and watch because essentially, I’m directing! I never really thought of it as instinct or anything, but there I am framing, rehearsing, visually piecing together a story without knowing what I was doing or what it was called.
So I guess you could say in some way I’ve always had the desire, the love for it, it’s always been fun. My mother rented a VHS camera sometime around 1990 for a University project. She had gone back to school as an adult student for a degree in social work, and had to film some interviews or something. She used the camera on the Saturday but on the Sunday I convinced her to let me use it with the neighbourhood friends to shoot some video. NOW… this is where it REALLY turned into filmmaking for me. We wrote short scripts, planned costumes, props, locations… boom.. it was on. I was always the one in charge of bossing everyone else around and always the one operating the camera. We made parodies: “Indiana Jones & The Lost Remote Control”, “Friday The 13th: Part 27”, etc, etc. Short little nothings. Most of them were only a single scene. This started a trend of myself and Troy Schwagger renting a video camera almost every weekend in the 7th-8th grade and planning shoots. The local video store (more like my Church and school!), The Video Shoppe, rented the camera, and we’d be off on our adventure of producing/shooting tiny shorts. Most were pre-planned so that we were shooting them in order and then using the audio dubbing feature the camera had to add in music RIGHT to the original footage. Such editing trickery I learned right there. Never overshot. Always get it right the first time (maybe second). VHS was a finicky bitch! There was no Final Cut, no non-linear editing, no Windows movie maker… I didn’t have a VCR to VCR system…. I had that rented camera to make it all happen. The less tools, the more inventive you have to be.
And really, I’ve been at it ever since. The writing aspect of it came out of thinking the shorts were complete shite and wanting to have better material to work from. I had always been writing epic short stories since the 2nd grade. Some where 50-80 page monsters… so coming up with ideas and dialogue, etc was never a problem! I started as a writer out of necessity to have something better planned, paced, better jokes, shock moments, etc.
So there you have it… the rest is simple… or maybe better yet saved for more specific questions. But to sum it up: Never went to post-secondary. Started my own business. Failed miserably a bunch. Self-funded or found small investors to make four feature films to learn film-making. Suffered much anxiety, stress, and problems as I’ve grown to the point I’m at today… still struggling to see this through! So ya… we’ll save the gory details for other question session!