Well my silly, unnecessary and self-indulgent countdown is over. Today is the day. We released the news. What news you ask? Well, it was this very press release to be exact:
HOLLYWOOD COMES TO WINDSOR (NO… Really)!
Cheerleader Brings Producer Behind Oscar Winning Film “Capote” To Essex County
Windsor, ON August, 2010 – Producer Rob Merilees of Foundation Features (Capote, Just Friends, Snow Walker) is set to produce a film in and around Windsor / Essex County in 2011 titled “Cheer For Your Life – From The Diary Of Lori Lang”. The film was written and is to be directed by Windsor native Gavin Michael Booth.
Merilees on working with Booth, “I am truly excited to be a part of “Lori Lang”. It is one of the most original concepts I have seen for a long while. I am pleased to be working with Gavin, and I’m very confident in his talent to pull off such an innovative production.”
“Cheer For Your Life” will first receive a Canada-wide theatrical release with an international release to follow. The distributor signed with Windsor’s Mimetic Entertainment in February of this year.
Booth along with Brendan Byrne (partners at Mimetic Entertainment) are excited to continue their support for the local arts community by using a cast and crew composed almost, if not entirely, of Windsor area talent.
Regarding Mimetic’s history and future, Booth has this to say, “We’ve worked our way through four no-to-low budget films entirely shot here in my home community. I’m thrilled that as we take the next step in the professional industry, we will continue to stick to our guns and bring production opportunities to Windsor.”
Byrne adds, “Here I’ve been biting my tongue for months and am now proud to announce that Hollywood is indeed coming to Windsor. Impossible? Not in our back yard? I’ve heard it all before and simply put…if you believe in something long enough and have the patience and perseverance to see it through, all good things are possible- even in Windsor.”
“Cheer For Your Life” is part one in a trilogy of films planned that revolve around the titular character Lori Lang, a high school cheerleader, continuously finding herself in situations that force her into saving the world. Think Indiana Jones with pom-poms. The producers are investigating the possibility of shooting the film in 3D to heighten the audiences’ experience.
Although filming is still over six months away, Mimetic is accepting resumes and headshots from local actors and crew persons who would be interested in participating in the film’s production. Send information to:firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about “Cheer For Your Life”, contact Gavin Michael Booth at email@example.com or 519.560.1673.
So that, I felt, was big news for 1) my filmmaking career and company and 2) the local Windsor film scene.
Speaking on part of the latter, I had an interesting discussion with another local filmmaker over the weekend. It occurred to me for the first time just how much I believe in developing a Windsor film scene. There is so much infighting here that works against the community. Many times I’ve been behind publicity stunts that have driven myself to become the opposition in some of that infighting… but the intention has always been there to provide more opportunity for filmmakers here and to get more of them to stick around instead of moving to Toronto on Vancouver or out of country. It’s always been my belief and small growing plan that if more filmmakers took a little bit of time to develop a film community, an organization for the little guy, that more filmmakers could work and live here. No, not everyone will be able to make a living off their film without having corporate video work or another job altogether… but eventually, it could happen. I’m hoping that keeping this new film project local instead of taking it elsewhere will be a big opportunity to point a little bit brighter of a spotlight on the talent in this city.
I love this city. I love so much about it. Imagine a film that starred Windsor actors, was crewed by the creative folks that are your friends and neighbours, and featured locations from right here in the city (and the surrounding county, let’s not forget that whenever I reference Windsor, I mean Essex County). Now imagine that film playing in theatres across Canada and on screens internationally around the globe. That’s something I’ve been imagining for a long time. There have been such close calls to that happening… there have been slivers of it… near misses (or as I think of them, HUGE victories regardless of not winning the Gold medal). This is something I think can be a perfect example that IT CAN BE DONE HERE.
Today ends my tolerance for anyone who says things cannot be done here or that Windsor is just some shitty city where dreams die. I won’t have it or hear it from anyone. Is it difficult? Has this climb to even this point for Mimetic and the people working on this film been damned near impossible? Absolutely. Many have quit along the way. Heck, I’ve almost thrown in the towel a few times. We’ve failed miserably several times trying to launch larger films. We’ve got films sitting on shelves that we can’t find a distribution home for. Fail, fail, fail… but like any good fight, you get up and try again and lookie here… we’ve done the “impossibe”… and guess what.. NEXT time it will be a little easier… and a little easier the time after that and then who knows… maybe 10 films a year could be shooting here? It’s certainly not IMPOSSIBLE.
There is a lot of talk about a film office never coming to town. “Never” is too broad. There would have to be a real need for it- which doesn’t exist yet. There have been a couple half-witted attempts at proposals for it, but that’s jumping to step 72 instead of carefully and fully developing steps 1-71. There needs to be a lot more attention on growing it from within. Domestic car sales mean an auto industry, local groceries mean a farming industry… so the more ways that filmmakers in Windsor have support to make their films, have them screened, and find ways to earn profit from their ventures – especially at the local level – would provide them the opportunity to get to another film and another and then eventually get name talent or name producers attached. If their experience in Windsor was a positive one, then heck, they might even rally to shoot that production here instead of fleeing the country as fast as they can.
WIFF this year is doing something great. Including local film. Now, it’s no secret that with their 48 Hour Film Festival for local filmmakers and now the local component of the main festival screening 2 locally selected films, that I think their selection process and judging methods leave something to be desired (and before I get chewed out again – this is my blog and my opinion, so don’t take it as bible truth!). Ok, so I take issue with some of it, but WIFF’s heart is finally in the right place the last few years. Kudos. That’s why I did my F.U. WINDSOR FESTIVAL – to bring attention that a Windsor Film Festival should include local components. So WIFF is growing and including local. This will be MASSIVE for local filmmakers to get exposure, find packed audiences, etc., which is great.
WIFF has also held a few filmmaker sit downs to discuss ways to improve the local Windsor film scenes. Mostly talk and little to no action. Where’s the website built we talked about? What happened to having a filmmaker night and fundraiser for that website? Feels like wasted breath and good pats on the back that there is care and help coming but then nothing. Maybe I missed something? Those meetings should have continued. There should already be a website… follow ups should be done by now… since WIFF told us they are basically the voice and authority on Windsor film. Once again… it’s every man for himself instead of continuing to organize. So if it’s up to us… it’s gonna be up to us. I hope there are more WIFF sit downs and there are ways WIFF continues to develop what I felt were some excellent ideas around that last table meeting.
There needs to be a real-world filmmaker education for the people here. Advanced film at the University doesn’t teach enough on the business end of film. Having all the talent and the fanciest camera in the world doesn’t do shit all for a filmmaker when he realizes he’s gonna need a business plan, networking skills, an education in tax credits and grant applications. There needs to be free seminars, invited guest speakers, and maybe even city support to helping the local filmmakers learn the way films are made elsewhere in Canada.
These are just a few tiny examples. The http://www.watchwindsor.com project is going to be adding some real incentives and assistance for the local film scene soon. I’m happy to continue growing that slowly. So there are a lot of steps before Windsor could EVER be like Detroit’s film scene. Proximity alone can’t do it. I just hate hearing that it’s impossible. I’m sure people in Calgary or Winnipeg or maybe even Toronto and Halifax or Kentucky or New Orleans thought the same thing prior to having major productions in town and film offices. Yes, it takes work and research and government support… but like most change, it will be the little people, the citizens and artists rallying together, to make it work.
So that’s why I want to film here. I live here. I like working here. I do love it here. I’ll never make a film outside of here until I’m forced to be elsewhere. I’m always happy to advise filmmakers younger than me with their projects. I get emails and coffee-talk requests all the time and never turn them down. Everyone that is in film here should do whatever they can to help their neighbour. The one thing I’ve learned from my hot-headed younger years is there should be no competition at the local level. It should be the spirit of helping anyone and everyone get their projects made because it just betters the filmmaking scene for yourself. I’ve learned to have less shock tactics and… well, a little more tact in my approach. I keep getting told to not say anything, the city is too small, I’ve burned bridges… but fuck that. 100% fuck that. Even if my opinion only matters to me, it’s getting stated. Chances are if someone doesn’t like that one opinion or subject from me and that’s enough to have a bridge burned… well, it wasn’t a river I was going to be crossing for much longer anyhow. I never understood how having a different opinion meant people had to be enemies.
Anyhoo, I have to get up and do some of that day job stuff I talked about earlier so I’m cutting this short.
1) Get off your ass and make your movie and help others make their movies.
2) If there is to be an official policy or filmmaking aid for Windsor filmmakers, it’s going to have to be the filmmakers here organizing and having an official voice in the city. So who wants to start that and lead that and convince the infighting to stop? Heavy handed job but even if there’s venom between camps, it’s going to be necessary. You think Ford, GM, Chrysler always love each other at CAW meetings? Fuck no… but they do it for the greater good. Anyone in this city should know the benefits of rallying together despite difference.
3) Keeping productions local and trying to bring more here.
4) Finding an audience and complete media/news support in order to get the word out to people when there are local films to be seen. I mean this beyond selling out a few thousand seats at Lakeshore or the Capitol Theatre. We can do better and find ways to make sure more local citizens attend these events.
Meh, the list will go on forever.
I propose a sit down for the Windsor filmmakers again. Organized by Windsor filmmakers. It’s still warm enough for a BBQ in my backyard. I’m sure Tom at Phog would host us anytime. There are enough Tim Hortons to choose from. Anyone with me? If you’re not, then you don’t have a right to bitch about all the things you don’t have in a film community here because you aren’t on board to make anything change.
I suppose I should say a few things here. Mimetic Entertainment collaborators on “Cheer For Your Life”. Today marks the OFFICIAL kick-off. I know we’ve been brimming with excitement and keeping it under wraps since February for portions of today’s news has been difficult but it’s arrived. Let’s get ready to work hard and make a fantastic movie. I believe we can. We will do it. No question there. Some of you have become my best friends and allies. Whatever I can do to make your filmmaking experience better, I want to know about it. I’m there. You’ve all helped me so much, through so much red tape and the unavoidable mountains of professional film that I’m indebted. Forever. I believe you all… WE all… hold a key to the beginning of a new chapter in local Windsor film. Be proud! It’s technically history, no?
Get your pom-poms ready!