Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Portraits of a Sole - Right Foot

dichotomy is any splitting of a whole into exactly two non-overlapping parts, meaning it is a procedure in which a whole is divided into two halves. It is a partition of a whole (or a set) into two parts (subsets) that are:

The two parts thus formed are complements. In logic, the partitions are opposites if there exists a proposition such that it holds over one and not the other.

Left foot, right foot.

Photos © 2010 Dominic F. Marceau / F Squared Media

Friday, March 11, 2011


I thought so...

I’ve been going through all of my old files, scripts, art, whatnot, and I’ve been feeling most melancholy. It’s hard to not be filled with “what ifs” as one does this. How did I wind up in this emotional mess? Quite by accident, actually. I had a lengthy chat with an old friend yesterday. Someone from my cinematic past. Someone who would have had a much different life path as well if all had gone as planned. I know I’m being cryptic, sue me. Someone who reminded me of the passion I once had. Going through these files, one cannot be blind to this. The employees at my local Staples knew me by name I was there so often, buying all kinds of stationary, envelopes, ink cartridges… I was dead set on making my production entity, F.I. Film Productions, a legit business. Why F.I.? It goes back to when I first started this pipe dream of breaking into the film industry. I was working for a reputable film studio. An editor friend of mine, who commuted by train, came in one morning and, while we were lined up in front of our friend the coffee machine, he told me something that would change my life forever. “It’s amazing the amount of trust we have in the human species when we wait for the train. Anybody could walk up behind you and push you off the platform, onto the path of the incoming train.” Yeah, a cheerful bunch, we were. But this particular statement resonated with my soon-to-be-caffeinated psyche, and I asked, “Mind if I write a little something about that?” To which, my friend replied, “Fuck it!” And a screenwriter was born. A feature-length script came out of that little bit of morbid observation, and then another, and so forth. I tried to write in every genre, even some that I didn’t care for, just to see if I could do it. Well, I could.

I guess so...
I was hanging out in veteran film producer and distributor John Dunning’s office, hanging on his every word, learning about this bitch of an industry from someone who had seen it all. He read my scripts and liked them. I soon gained confidence.  He asked me to doctor a few horror scripts he had in development, which sparked the flame inside me. “A horror script! I can write that!” So, I set out to write the ultimate teen slasher script. It was pretty easy. I bought about 50 DVDs, from the best to the worst of the genre, and fed my brain. One thing was evident: if I was going to write about torment and misery, it had to take place in high school! It didn’t take me long, a few weeks and I had a first draft. It wasn’t Shakespeare, but I liked it. It had a fun energy to it. I threw caution to the wind and gave it to one of our office bigwigs, whom I had struck a professional friendship with. Being in an office filled with producers and distribution executives put me in an enviable position. It didn’t take long, not long at all, actually, for my “friend” to come back to my office, my script in her hands and a smile on her face. “I want to distribute this. No matter what.” I was over the moon. I was going to finally make my dream a reality: I was going to direct a feature film I had written (and my editor friend, who specialized in movie trailers, was going to cut his first film. We started meeting with outside potential over coffee. Producers. They’re everywhere! And, as I now know, anybody can be one. I had the graphic artists come up with a company logo, printed out some business cards, had some stationary made (again at Staples), and set forth in spreading the good word. In this case, two words. Fuck it. I know it’s a vulgar name for a burgeoning company (I’d usually tell people it meant “Female Impersonators” or whatever came to mind the quickest), but “Fuck it!” was the attitude I had back then. I wasn’t afraid of anything. I broke down doors, I cold-called, I mailed Christmas cards to every contact I had... It was so liberating! Not a care in the world, except the work. Nobody is worth a damn but me. An unusual mix of cockiness and naiveté. How I long to go back there. One day, I was on the phone with another player in the Canadian film biz, who had recently finished reading my script. He told me he loved it, but that it was missing a hook. He told me to get back to him in a week or so with some ideas. I remember going home that night, deflated. I was so close! The next morning, I was stuck in traffic, as I was every morning, when I decided to put in a CD. “Call of the West” by Wall of Voodoo, an album I’ve always cherished. Little did I know that this exciting staple of 80’s darkwave would change my life forever. It was during the song “Factory” that it hit me. “When were horror movies at their apex?” I called Mister Big as soon as I got into the office that morning and told him, “What if I set the whole thing in the Eighties?” Done. I had my hook. At that point, things really started to blossom for ol’ Dom here. I had people working for me in Los Angeles, meeting people who had shown interest. It was an exciting time. I had actors lined up, reputable ones at that, “names”, in the parlance of the industry. I had the top horror movie website as a producing partner, guaranteeing maximum exposure for my flick. This was too cool. It was also too ephemeral. Since it was all talk (i.e.: No contracts were drafted yet.), nothing was really happening. I was soon to learn that a lot of people talk in this industry. They talk, and they talk, and they talk a whole lot. When you hear about any actor or director’s upcoming slate of projects, none of them has one or two projects lined up. They attach themselves left and right, not knowing which will finally materialize. I had one. This one. The only one. When my producer friend called me to tell me that she had a local producer interested in my project, with the moolah to produce it, I jumped in headfirst. Little did I know that those waters weren’t filled with sharks. Oh no. They were filled with shit. 

I know so...
I met with the dude at an Italian restaurant. I wasn’t impressed. The speeding ticket I got on my way over there was an omen with a capital fucking “O”. The food was good though, but HE left me cold. You know those people you meet who don’t seem passionate about anything? They’re like “whatever”. I’m not a “whatever” kind of guy. To this day, things are either black or white with me. You’re either a smoker or a non-smoker. Find out what you are, and be that. Ok, bad example. Anyway, this dude had “Meh” written all over him. But you know what they say… Beggars can’t be choosers (Hey! There's my cliché!). So I started swimming in these toxic waters. Swimming for dear life. Trying not to swallow any of it. Things moved at a rapid pace. I went to the makeshift production office to send out audition notices to all of the Montreal casting agencies. We didn't get many replies, but the fact that I was going to conduct auditions for my first film excited me to no end. We met with a few actors, some great, some not so great. I'm not big on "auditioning" in the proper sense. Honestly, who cares if you recite a Dashiell Hammett monologue when auditioning for a teen slasher flick! Tell me who you are. Let's shoot the shit. Have a cup. See if we're comfortable with one another. I'll look at your reel and get back to you. I much prefer to work that way. Anyhoo, we cast up. I met a potential director of photography. Cool dude. Full of himself, but cool nonetheless (I finally learned that he was 10 years younger than I was. Imagine how cocky and naive HE was!). My "producer" secured a pretty sweet location. Wow! We will have Bishop's University at our disposal. Since it's 2 and a half hours outside of Montreal, we will also stay on campus for the four weeks of the shoot. Awesome! We will all live and breathe this world which I have created. Mouahahaha! After a few back and forth trips to the location, the time finally came to pack it up and leave to go make this lifelong dream finally come true. But not before I got a phone call from my now executive producer, who had promised me distribution. Seems that she was a bit apprehensive about mine and my partner's lack of experience. She then told me that, since she had an agreement with me alone, they were going to go with an experienced film editor to cut the film. I wanted to die. Betraying my best friend, the one who's responsible for me getting in this wonderful mess to begin with, OR, stick by him and tell this man who is willing to give me money to make all my dreams come true to go to Hell. I thought of myself. It's a move I regretted for years after. He took it very well, though. We had lunch together. He understood that this was my dream, this was my chance, and I would be a fool to deny myself this opportunity. He wished me the best of luck and told me he believed in me. So off I was on this wonderful adventure. I felt blessed. Wait, that's not it. What's the opposite of blessed? Oh yeah... Midway through the long trek to the location, my cellphone rang. I recognized the number as my editor friend's. Only it wasn't him. It was his wife. She proceeded to tear me a new asshole, and about twenty other orifices to go along with it. The funny thing is that I agreed with her completely. I felt like a schmuck but I had my friend's blessing, or so I thought. Six years later and we've barely spoken since. 

Say it ain't so...
That conversation put me in a weird place emotionally as I reached the lovely town of Lennoxville, Quebec. I remember noticing that gas prices had reached over $1,00 /litre for the first time that day. It's always stuck with me. I met my First (and only) Assistant Director, and another woman whom I guess was the Production Manager. I knew that this was a low budget affair, but when I was shopping for wardrobe in a nearby Zellers, it hit me. This wasn't going to be pretty. I barely slept that night. The next day, the rest of the crew showed up. The best grips and gaffers that I could have hoped for. Thank God for them. A few of the actors arrived from Montreal. When I inquired to my "producer" as to when the other half of my cast would show up, he told me, "Oh yeah, I meant to tell you. They won't." I asked him if there was a particular time when he wanted to advise me that half my fucking cast got cold feet three days before we start principal photography. First burst of sharp abdominal pain. As we look at some of the locations, I noticed a very pretty blonde sitting behind the check in desk of the gymnasium. We chatted for a bit, as it felt really good to gloat to a pretty blonde. She told me that she was studying theatre and that if ever we needed help, she'd willing to give us a hand. I could see right away that she had something special and, after telling my "producer" of my intentions, I offered her one of the lead roles. My instincts were right as she put in a spectacular performance and was more or less responsible for finding us the rest of our cast. This film would have sunk faster than the Titanic if it hadn't been for Nancy Vanessa Gillard. I slept a little easier that night. The alcohol helped. The next day, my "producer" told me we had to talk over coffee and discuss script changes. Script changes? "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" We sat down at a local coffee shop and he told me that the entire third act had to be rewritten because of financial limitations. Yeah. He tells me this two days before we start principal photography. Second burst of sharp abdominal pain. I know why he chose a coffee shop to do this in. It was like a public breakup where the "dumpee" has to show restraint considering the nature of the locale. I wanted to create a scene. I wanted to create a murder scene. I barely touched my coffee. Those who know me should realize how angry I was. I walked back to the campus, contemplating suicide, when one of my newly acquired actors, a certain Ashley Conn, saw me and started to talk about how excited he was to be a part of this thing. He had read the script and loved every word. I told him that I had to rewrite a lot of it because my "producer" bit off more than he could chew. A pattern that would show its ugly face again, you will soon find out. Ashley, Ash for short (yeah, another one), fired back that he believed I would come up with something even more awesome. His enthusiasm was more addictive than heroin. I rewrote the ending and was very proud of what I came up with. Again, it wasn't Shakespeare, but it wasn't insulting either. I made a bunch of copies and gave them to my cast. My AD handed me the first few days schedule. We rehearsed quickly on the Sunday. The changes seemed to work. Actually, they worked really well. We were as ready as we'd ever be. Ash loved the script and had become one Hell of an ego booster for me. He's somebody that made a difference in my life, in fact, he is the old friend I chatted with the other day. His performance in the film was my favourite part of it. He's someone who would have had a VERY bright future if the film hadn't imploded (As it turns out, Ash got his Masters and is now making a much better living than he would have ever had if he had continued acting...). Wait a minute. Imploded? What happened? Patience. I'm going to go make myself a cup. You'll have to wait for another time...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Portraits of a Sole - Left Foot

"You don't want to kick your habit wearing those shoes..."

As most of you know, my darling Kate has a serious addiction: Fluevogs. While for most addicts, this condition is a debilitating one, for Kate, it's quite the opposite. Last July, she was chosen to be a model for John Fluevog Shoes' Everyday Fluevog, where a die-hard fan sends in a photo of themselves wearing a different pair of Vogs each day for the entire month. Guess who took these shots? Here's a first batch of my favourites.

More next week... 


Photos © 2010 Dominic F. Marceau / F Squared Media