And I Knew What It Was All Along

August 26, 2011

I was supposed to start this months ago – write a blog to coincide with each music video I direct.  It’s supposed to be an exercise in keeping my journalling active on the making-of Cheer For Your Life (my upcoming film, which I’m desperately behind on journalling about so maybe this blog-per-music video will work like it’s supposed to).  So here I am alone in a hotel room in the Nashville area at midnight finding myself completely bored.

Too tired to edit anymore but not tired enough to sleep.  This is where my brain always finds itself this time of night.  I want to keep working but get scattered and unfocused.  Facebook has become a yawn-fest by this time as most regular type folk have tucked in for the night.  Just boredom.  There’s only so much Nip/Tuck I can watch in an evening (it’s midway through Season 4 for me right now.  I never watched the show in it’s regular run though urged by an ex-girlfriend to give it a try.)

Anyhow on to what I’m here to talk about.  A month or two ago I directed a music video for fellow Gavin, Gavin Slate.

Photo By: Desiree Nickerson

The song is titled “Falling” and it’s the simple lyrical tale of a man coming to terms with the fact that the feelings he has have been love for a certain someone all along “and I knew what it was all along… I was falling for you…”.  My take on the concept was the bittersweet realization of too little, too late.  I’ve been there.  I think many of us have.  So the concept I pitched to Gavin was simple.

See the finished video here if you haven’t already:


Actually I should explain how I met Gavin Slate.  It’s always a bizarro world for me how these projects come together.

I had written treatments for a wonderfully wicked singer/songwriter Lindi Ortega at the request of her label.  I did my duties there and submitted them and not long after saw that she was having a CD Release party in Toronto.  Turns out we have a mutual good friend who ended up inviting me to the same release party.  I had planned on making the drive up from Windsor to be there.  Never hurts if I’ve seen a performer live that I may potentially direct for.  In fact I prefer it.  On the poster for the event I caught on the facebook event page I saw the opening acts.  I figured, I’ll check out their music on Myspace or iTunes before I see them open for Lindi.  For me there is nothing worse than being at a concert and watching openers that I don’t know their music.  I like to have lyrics to sing along with and know a little about a band/act first.  Gavin Slate was one of these acts.  His name was Gavin so he’s already a rare breed in my books.  I’ve never worked with another Gavin.  That was intriguing on it’s own for whatever silly reason.

I found Gavin’s music online and started listening.  Powerful stuff.  All of it.  His voice in in the vein of Matt Kearney and his somber songs about love and live get trapped in your head and you find yourself humming them hours later.  Naturally I found him on Facebook and sent him a cold message.  “Hey it’s Gavin, blah blah, Lindi’s release, blah blah, like yer stuff, blah, talk to you that night at the event.”

Or something like that.

So within twenty-four hours I got chatting with Other Gavin (when I’m directing he’s Other Gavin and when he’s on stage or the main event I will be Other Gavin that night) about music videos and what track he’s like to do a video for.  We settled on “Falling”.  I had the idea almost instantly and wrote up a quasi-treatment and sent it over.  He liked it right away and bingo – a video was born.  I actually sent two over and for the life of me I can’t remember what the other concept was… hopefully I still have the message – maybe it will end up a video for another artist.  From there we started discussing budget and timing to get the video shot.  I pitched him, as I pitch everyone, the concept of doing the production in Windsor/Essex County.  He was game.  This made me happy because I love working with the rag-tag team of dedicated people Mimetic Entertainment has on set on a regular basis.  The gang would ride again.

Around the same time, Sean Parker over at Parktown Productions put out an incredible offer.  He would provide the Redcam and we’d collaborate for the first time ever so that I could get a taste for the Red having never shot with it and considering it for my next film Cheer.  Not an offer I could turn down.  Sean and I met through my How Many Days? video blogs relating to Kevin Smith and have been Facebook friends ever since.  We’re going to write a screenplay together soon and I know in my gut have many collaborations ahead of us, but how he relates here and now to Gavin Slate was this offer of the camera and coming down for the weekend.  As soon as I knew that date I had Gavin on the phone to get his arse to Windsor for the same time.

So we’re back to Gavin’s song and my concept for it.  I took it as a guy who realized he truly was in love with his girlfriend all along- only he’s realized this after she’s finished kicking him out of the house.  We don’t know what he did but it couldn’t have been good because his clothes, guitar, television, and even couch have been tossed out in her rage.  Not wanting to give up on the relationship he’s realized (as most of us simple minded males do) he doesn’t want to lose even this late in the game, Gavin sets up all of his furniture on the lawn and refuses to leave until she breaks down and lets him back in to talk.  The video essentially is a performance of Gavin on the front lawn as if it’s business as normal in his living room – he’d order a pizza, watch some tv, take a nap, do some light reading – all the comforts of home without the roof over his head.  A test of will that if he stuck it out long enough, his girlfriend would come around and her anger would simmer.

We needed a front yard.  I always go to Marie, who has produced with me pretty much every music video I’ve directed since The Afters “Light Up The Sky” video last October.  Marie is great at brainstorming the needs of any video and an amazing sounding board for me to talk out load at and bounce ideas off of.  We thought of the neighbourhood that had what we’d want in terms of exterior for the house.  We talk about how to approach people who own’d the houses, how to deal with the noise we’d be making at night with a crew on a front lawn.  Of course the simplest solution didn’t come about for a few days; a solution we ultimately went with.

Photo By: Marie Jeannette

My front lawn.  The house that Brian and I live in was absolutely perfect for it but like most times when stressing to lock down elements for a music video or film, I can’t see the lawn for the city as they say.  This was going to be such a simple shoot on the technical end.  Load the gear out onto the lawn and once wrapped load it back in!  No moving cast and crew to multiple locations, sometimes over multiple days.  I was pretty stoked about this.

Of course we had Sean coming down from Ottawa and bringing two assistants, camera operator Ben Walker and Digital Imagine wizard Oscar Welsh.  Two gentleman I had the pleasure of meeting that weekend but, like Sean, hope to work with again – even though Oscar’s going to a film school program next month when he’s already working with world class film people… shame on him!  I won’t hold it against him forever.  With Sean and the gang in town, my place, although the ideal location was not going to work to house our out of town guests.  So I made a call.

“Hi, Mom”.

My mother, “What do you need?”

She knows that I rarely call her because she calls me each and every day at least once.  So when I am calling it’s because I have a request.  This time – to house the crew, Marie and I for two nights since her and my stepfather George have three guest bedrooms.   My mom is a super neat-freak so there was some grumbling but like the good mother she is she agreed.  Who needs hotels when we can arrive at mum’s to pizza already ordered, George’s homemade wine, and hours of great conversation?  Not I.  We settled in, tried to get a good night’s sleep and then in the morning I had to go film a charity event before the set-up for the shoot could begin.

I took off for the morning and first part of the afternoon to film The Breast Ride Ever’s second annual charity motorcycle ride for Breast Cancer.  While I did that the crew and Marie were treated to George’s homemade breakfast.  Fuckers.   I really missed out.  Though I suppose I can rest comfortably knowing I was dedicating my time and camera skills to something bigger than all of us.  Now I want pancakes.  All I have are mini-bagels in this hotel.  They shall have to do for the time being.

While I was filming for charity, Marie was calling around to find ANYWHERE in our cursed city that carried a 7200rpm firewire 800 external hard drive.  We were only able to find one at Henry’s.  An entire city of computer and electronic stores and truly only one that understands the needs of the digital filmmaker.  Pathetic.  It’s not even that uncommon of a drive but I didn’t have a free one and the Red Camera we were shooting the video on required it for storage of the footage.


While this was transpiring and I was still filming from the back of a truck trying to not get whipped in the eye by my shaggy head of hair

Moving on to the afternoon, charity filmed, everyone is gathering at my house.  Marie and I had been taking donations and loan outs on vintage furniture and props to be the content’s of Gavin’s life that would appear on the lawn.  Facebook friends and cast/crew from previous videos brought out some amazing items to use.  That afternoon, setting up, I had a call from Cerah Steele.  She is my hair dresser and an amazing singer/performer herself.  Cerah was going to do hair for the video that evening and happened to be at an estate sale not more than a four minute drive from my house.  She said there was all sorts of vintage stuff there that was going for dirt cheap.  Sean and I hoped in the car and headed over.  Sure enough I spent a bit more than planned in our tiny budget but managed to snag the record player you see at the beginning and end of the video as well as the clock which you see hung on the tree.  Definitely worth the trip, many thank-yous to Cerah and her boyfriend Josh for those findings.

Photo By: Desiree Nickerson


We waited til the sun was setting after scattering the furniture, clothes, etc around the lawn to design phase one of the set.  We shot the first takes with Marie throwing books and final items out of the house while we dolly to the left from the record player Gavin is starting up to seeing the scattered items on the lawn.  Marie’s goal in her career is to be a working actor full-time.  She sorta fell into working behind the scenes with me on a short film I produced for Navin Ramaswaran a few years back.  When looking for the leading lady for this video it became apparent quickly that she’d be perfect for it and given the fact that there isn’t a demanding amount of her time for the scenes necessary she could producer and act in the video without it compromising her producing responsibilities.

Sun sets.  We’re into night which is the majority of our shoot.  There’s no real funny stories to tell about the shoot from this point on.  There’s a behind the scenes video that shows you far better than I can write it.  Marie always shoots a behind the scenes for each music video she produces so we’re sure to add it to the Mimetic Entertainment Youtube Channel playlists for the artist to share with their fans.


Photo By: Victoria Strehlau

It was wonderful to have Desiree and Victoria taking photos for us.  Clinton and Sarah are just top-notch and work like dogs to make sure everything is done fast and efficient as they always do on each set.  Logan dug right in as a first timer and really rocked it.  Cerah’s hair stylings were perfection.  Krista’s make-up top notch.  Ben, Sean, Oscar from Ottawa where an absolute pleasure to work with.  We even had film producer Mike Carriere out to lend a hand.

I did find the Red a bit bulky – I’m used to being able to move a smaller camera more often, change shots quicker, do handheld with a shoulder mount rig, just get coverage fast.  With the Red it didn’t work that way so there was a learning curve and adjustment for me in that sense.

It was a contained set to the front lawn and not a lot of motion on Gavin’s part.  His performance was consistant from take to take and that makes the editing a heck of a lot easier.

Photo By: Desiree Nickerson

There was a cameo from Ted E. Bear – who’s been making the rounds in music videos and a previous feature film of mine.  Great little bear actor he is!  This video is one of the first times I kinda had everything planned out (not on paper of course)  – A lot of one location indie band videos I go in with a basic concept but no real shot list… just knowing the basic story/idea and roll with it.  For “Falling” I knew the majority of the events and knew we could think up more ways for Gavin to pass the time while he was on his front lawn if we had time left over.  One of the cool things we got to do was provide a cameo for Bull’s Eye Pizza… err… more so blatant product placement!

Bull’s Eye Pizza has been so incredible with us donating pizza for the cast/crew of every single music video we’ve every requested of them.  We always tweet and facebook our appreciation for it to help promote their business.  This time however, we thought it would be a funny moment in the storyline for the video if Gavin gets hungry while camping out overnight for his girlfriend to give him the time of day.  So we have him paying for a pizza he’s ordered.  Bull’s Eye Pizza even sent over an extra pizza with some nice bright coloured hot peppers on it to use a the pizza in the video instead of making the crew wait to eat the meal pizzas.  Jon, the owner, also sent Marie back with a small Bull’s Eye Pizza shirt.  The only person in the crew it was going to fit was Oscar, so he went from DIT specialist to actor in the change of a tee.

Photo By: Desiree Nickerson

So that’s about all she wrote.  We filmed until five in the morning or so.  Clean up wasn’t too painful having to just stuff everything back inside the house.  The editing was done a day or so later and Ben over at Parktown turned around the colour correction soon after.  Gavin did a great job – debut music videos can be tricky for an artist sometimes when performing in front of the camera.  You really should all check out his EP.  The songs are fantastic.  We have another video coming your way really soon too.
iTunes Store for Gavin Slate

For me, thanks for reading and you can catch me on the big, vast, ever growing world wide web through the links under my sign off.


twitter: @gavinbooth
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The Closest I’ll Ever Get To An Oscar?

September 7, 2010

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:


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 learn more about “Cheer For Your Life”, contact Gavin Michael Booth at 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 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!


A Tube For You

August 13, 2010

I just wanted to say a quick thanks to everyone that’s advised, researched, or given me personal experience with having a Youtube account restored.  Losing my channel last week is a bit of a blow in the project/business pants considering every project I’ve done from band music videos to demo reels to film trailers to my How Many Days? project were all on that one channel.  1500 videos BOOM!  Not to mention 2000+ subscribers and over 3.3 million views.  So it would be nice to have restored but not the end of the world because well… we’re in the filmmaking business and not the Youtube business and videos can always be re-uploaded if necessary as painstaking as it might be.

Just nice to see so many people take the time to assist me with it.  Fingers crossed:  It appears that it will be over in a few more days.  In the meantime I did set up shop over HERE if you’d like to re-subscribe.  After all I couldn’t just stop How Many Days? now could I?  Nahhhhhhhhh.  It must continue.  Everyday… maybe til I die!


Paperwork, Paperwork

August 9, 2010

Another weekend passes and I’ve spent the majority of it holed up working on the new film.  The only time I stepped out really was to go be an extra and support Nicole’s film, which Marie is acting in, entitled “Sitting Room”.  I agreed to come be an extra because the scene was in a coffee shop and it meant my character could be hammering away at business planning on his laptop.  So when you see the film, I was doing the pre-production on my own film.  All extra acting credit goes to the frustration of never ending paperwork and financial planning.  It’s growing deep lines on my face.

I don’t much mind giving up weekends.  My life, be it weekday, holiday, or any other sorta days (Birthday included) usually involves the majority of it being taken up by editing, writing, planning, meetings, calls, and such revolving around the pursuit of various film and music video projects.  It’s just become the way of things.  As I get older, less and less friends have free time anyhow.  Kids, spouses, in-laws, family vacations, work, renovations… it’s endless the things that fill people’s lives so most of the time I’m not missing out on much.  My best friends are the ones that when time passes and we get together it’s as if no time has passed at all.  Plus I can get good and drunk at home… and have this weekend while working away.  Fear not, I was not drinking alone!   Plus I get to catch up on movies – something I never find time to watch anymore.  This weekend I tried to watch some fodder films as background while working:  Land Of The Lost (turned it off 20 minutes in), Cop Out (sorry Kevin, turned it off 15 minutes in – Tracey Morgan is the most annoying person in cinema despite my love for him on 30 Rock), Jackass: The Movie (having seen the trailer for Jackass 3D and already setting a date to go see it with Steph and Marty I had to make Marie watch it having never indulged in the Steve-O before!), and then Diary Of A Wimpy Kid (which was fantastically entertaining!).   I also finished rewatching Season One of Heroes.  What a fantastic show in that first season.  A great superhero tale.  I think part of my couch potato ways this weekend are due to the fact that after two weeks of training with Hurricane Training I needed a serious rest!  I start going five days a week this week so these two days have been glorious!

We finally settled on a name for the film… to be revealed soon.  It’s a horror film and I’ve never had to name a horror film before.  Titling a film in general for me tends to be painstaking.  I always seem to be unable to find a name for a project until well after it was written.  Even when I do I hum and haw over if it’s the best choice I could have made.  In this case, it’s nice to have other producers to bounce it off and discuss title options.

So we’re moving into pre-production.  What’s pre-production?  For you non-filmmakers out there reading out there (all twenty-two of you including the filmmakers) Pre-production is simply:

“In digital video, photography, television and film, pre-production refers to the tasks that must be completed or executed before filming or shooting begins. This includes tasks such as hiring actors or models, building sets, budgeting, planning, scheduling, renting equipment and tests, to name a few of the many pre-production tasks.”

It is everything that has to be done on a film before the camera rolls.  We’re a ways away from filming but there is a lengthy pre-production on this film as it will be my first foray into special effects.  Utilizing both practical and digital effects adds a longer process by which to plan said complicated shots into the production.  There is a definite learning curve for me and though as the director I don’t need to understand completely I am fascinated by all things movie-making and want to learn as we move along.

One of the first pre-production tasks already completed was a photo shoot this week.  Greg Aldous of Photoworx / Printworx in Lasalle opened up his studio for us.  We had some lovely and talented ladies modelling for the shots.

Ra Ra Ra!

The shots were done against a green-screen so the girls can be cropped out.  These shots are to make up a squad of Cheerleaders for a teaser poster.  As you can probably guess, there might be cheerleaders that have something to do with this new horror film.  I mean, how can you have a good horror romp with aliens or whatnot without a bitchy cheerleader or two?  The marketing of this film, in true Hollywood style, will begin as the production begins.  Scary to think we could have a trailer in theaters all over the place before we’re done shooting the movie!  Talk about pressure!  The shoot was a riot.  Lots of old crew faces working behind the scenes and some terrific new ones.  If you didn’t catch it and care to, there’s a video blurb about it all right here:

So much work just to get a few shots for a poster but it’s all part of the seemingly neverending preproduction process.  I love it.  It’s like building your film from lego bricks.  One brick at a time until it’s all there for you to then play inside your imaginary house or building or post-office or space-station or whatever it is you are building.  I’ve always thought that development and pre-production were the hardest parts of film-making.  It takes the most time, it needs the most attention to detail.  If done right, then your shooting is a breeze because everything is correctly planned for and errors are at a minimal.

“You get three hours’ sleep and then you start all over again. Relentless. Pre-production was almost harder than filming. I was all over the city every day. It was really exhausting. ”

– Ed Harris

Well, I have to get back to finishing touches on a financial plan for a few presentations I have to make this week so I shall take my leave of you once again.  Sleep should follow.  I can’t survive without it now that I have the gym every weekday.  I used to ward off sleep like a monster from the closet.  Happy lives to everyone as the weekend wraps up.  Hope you are well.

A dragon’s touch,


D Is For Domination (The Worldly Kind)

July 16, 2010

I can’t (and don’t want to) say too much but there was a major announcement yesterday that’s make the rounds in the media and well… it involves little ol’ me.

We have a new film in development.  I mentioned it recently in a previous blog – it’s gearing up – I have a wonderfully talented team of Windsor area folks working on all the paperwork and getting the early stages together – we are shooting it here in Windsor – but the potential for this film just grew leaps and bounds.  The film when distributed will be released by D-Films in Canada… and now… well… read this article from the Globe and Mail to see what’s up.

It’s also in Screendaily and Deadline.

World Domination baby!  I couldn’t be more excited.  Having distribution locked before shooting is a filmmaking dream come true.  See you make the film usually out of your own pocket and then you hope to God that someone out there wants to buy it.  It’s painful, full of rejection worse than any date gone wrong, and next to impossible.  There are far more films made each year than potential slots to screen them all.. plus your film has to be REALLY GOOD.  Even my first few films that are just starting to find distribution has taken 4+ years!!!!  It’s not fun at all.  So the IDEAL is to know in advance of making the film where it is going to go.  The way we landed distribution wasn’t even trying for it.  Since February my life and career have been changing faster than I can keep up.

So ya, the public opinion of Mel Gibson might have changed… but Holy Moses do I have to respect what he and his passion for cinema now mean for me!

Now just wait for our next announcement about WHO is producing this film… it’s possibly even bigger news than this and chances are you’ve seen AT LEAST one of his films in a theater before!

If you have questions don’t ask.  I can’t answer them… not yet.

Casting?  Soon.

The Project? A horror film (something I never thought I’d direct but here I am!)

Can You Be Involved? Most likely but have to wait til we put out a call

Am I bouncing with excitement?  Abso-fucking-lutely!

Talk soon,


P.S. – Since day one I said I would work towards getting Windsor on the map as a place to make films.  There are LOTS of great films that have been made and are being made since I caught wind of a small filmmaker’s movement here and decided to plant an anchor.  For all of those out there that have every said it isn’t possible to make movies here or to get “Hollywood” movies to be made here… how to put this… hmmmm…  how about FUCK YOU!  It’s here and it’s happening and there are far more ways you could get behind people trying to do something outside of the box than to slag them for their “hopeless dreams”.  Anyone out there telling someone else they can’t achieve their dreams should just shut their pie-hole and move along.   ANYTHING is possible if you work at it.  I’m a SCHMUCK and I’m doing it… if you have real talent and real drive – you’ll get yours.  You’ll get your dreams in your hands… even right here in Windsor.

Rebel Without A Crew

July 2, 2010

As I round out finishing my new How Many Days? website – I thought through my blog here I’d share over the next little while the profile and reasoning I selected each person on my list.  The first is:

Robert Rodriguez

“Don’t be told something is impossible. There’s always a way.”
– Robert Rodriguez

Robert Rodriguez is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor and musician.  He shoots and produces many of his films in his native Texas and Mexico. He has directed such films as Desperado (1995), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), The Faculty (1998), Spy Kids (2001), Sin City (2005), Planet Terror (2007). He also produced the upcoming Predators (2010).

Rodriguez grew up shooting action and horror short films on video, and editing on two VCRs. Finally, in the fall of 1990, his entry in a local film contest earned him a spot in a university film program where he made the award-winning 16 mm short, “Bedhead”.  Even at this early stage, Rodriguez’s trademark style began to emerge: quick cuts, intense zooms, and fast camera movements deployed with a sense of humor that offsets the action.  Rodriguez not only has the usual credits of producing, directing and writing his films, he also frequently serves as editor, director of photography, camera operator, steadicam operator, composer, production designer, visual effects supervisor, and sound editor on his films. This has earned him the nickname of “the one-man film crew.” He abbreviates his numerous roles in his film credits; Once Upon A Time In Mexico, for instance, is “shot, chopped, and scored by Robert Rodriguez”, and Sin City is “shot and cut by Robert Rodriguez”.

Find out more about Robert or contact him for to help Gavin’s How Many Days? mission here:

A man needs little else but his art and his weapon.

He’s the rebel without a crew. His amazing story of a man, his camera, and a $7,000 budget have become the stuff of legends in independent filmmaking. There’s even the book: “Rebel Without A Crew”. Before I read the book I knew the story. I saw the films.

Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, The Faculty… a very fun director to be following. Now, I know his story has inspired countess thousands of filmmakers to grab their gear and shoot their no-budget film. I had already shot two features by the time I really examined Robert’s story. “Leaving Town” and “Do Not Disturb”. The first was made for triple what his “El Mariachi” was. The second, with just two main actors, was shot in five days for $472. You should have seen my producer’s eyes roll when I proposed coming up with a project that, no matter what, we would spend less than five-hundred dollars on it. This is where you’ll begin to see my respect for Rodriguez and his ability to keep budgets under control and think outside the box as to how to accomplish a lot cinematically with very little.

I like to work alone a lot. Collaborations can sometimes go up in flames for me as I know exactly what I want and there are few people I find that share that same vision and style as me. After Leaving Town and Do Not Disturb, I was frustrated with the restrictions of having a larger crew to work with, the time to set-up each shot, so on and so forth. I longed for the days in high school with my Panasonic VHS camcorder and the freedom to quickly point-shoot-move on. Working the camera, using practical light, directing through the viewfinder. Quick, cheap, and dirty.

My third film hit a common problem. A shady and swindling original producer. Money promised, favours promised, endless promises. Nothing showed up two days before we were to shoot and had already flown our lead actress (the fabulous Tanya Bettencourt) in from Boston. “A Most Useless Place”, oddly titled from its Dr. Suess story, spoke to us as a production team right there – feeling in a useless place. There were two options in everyone’s mind: cancel the film or delay shooting it. In my mind, standing off from everyone, throwing a little temper tantrum (how I deal, so deal with it)- there was only one option:

Shoot the film at any cost. Be it budget slashing, reducing the number of locations, and my mental health. Whatever it takes.

We quickly raised less than 1/12th the intended budget and as I was investigating cheap ways to make the film, I recalled Robert’s story. My first thought when reading about his one man film crew was: Bullshit! Complete and total bullshit! How in the world could that be done? Well… me never being a guy to take the path of least resistance, the idea hit me: I would call bullshit on this Rodriguez character and try to make my film as a one man film crew just to prove that it couldn’t be done. If you’re gonna shoot a movie without the budget, you may as well eliminate the crew at the same time. The Producer eye roll switched to a near head explosion this time when I proposed my one and only acceptable solution to getting the film made. The result?

8-9 days later, all by myself on camera and lighting and directing, etc, etc – I shot “A Most Useless Place” in and around my home city of Windsor. I was wrong. It can be done. I did it. I took Robert’s method and ran with it- his drive and determination a baton I picked up and now carry with me through my film career.

Robert has also built his garage into a full-fledged production house. Every step of his filmmaking can be done from home. It’s what I had always dreamed of doing and when I saw on a DVD –featurette that he had already built his studio at home, I chuckled and thought about how I’ll have to outdo him. He’s used this cost-efficient set up to continue to write, direct, and produce some of the most interesting independent films and some studio pictures along the way.

I figure in meeting with Robert, besides the chance to pick his brain, will be the chance to formally apologize for doubting the ability to make a film by oneself. After all – nothing is impossible.

Are you in the film business or a fan of his work?  Were you inspired by Robert Rodriguez?  If so, what do you like about them?  Leave a comment below, post a scene from his films or interviews from youtube with him.  I dare you!

— Again, this is taken from: – my new How Many Days? official site.  Please poke around, check it out from time to time, catch my daily video blog, comment where it pleases you!