Nine years ago, VT Nayani had an idea for a film. Four years later it received its first funding.
His first feature film on September 9th This place makes its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, one of eight Canadian feature films in the festival’s Discovery Series.
It’s also been a long road for the film’s producer, Stephanie Sonny Hooker. The team realized they were missing material after the main shoot; It took another two years to raise more money to film pickup truck scenes. “There were hats and wigs involved,” Hooker said. Now she says the couple “yells and cries in line at the grocery store every day” to make it a TIFF.
This place is a love story set in Toronto about two women struggling with difficult family backgrounds.
Canadian filmmakers can spend years on journeys as fraught with drama and risk as those they tell about on screen, trying to navigate the world of Canadian film finance for the first time as feature film directors and producers.
Also at TIFF this year, Joseph Amenta Soft, tender, the story of three queer Toronto kids and their friendship over the course of one summer. When she came up with the idea, Amenta knew how much commitment was required. “It had to be something I was passionate about enough to withstand the hurdles of developing a micro-budget,” they said.
One of the first hurdles is funding. Six months after launch soft, tender, Amenta began working with two producers, Alexandra Roberts and Danny Sedore.
According to Roberts, at this early stage there are many strategic discussions about maximizing a film’s chances of getting funding.
“It’s really programmatic,” she said. “They talk about how we can maximize our chances of getting something like Talent to Watch.”
Seven films at TIFF, including This place and soft, tender, received support from Telefilm Talent to Watch programwhich finances films whose most important creative minds (writer, director, producer) have never acted in a feature film.
Mehernaz Lentin, Telefilm’s national feature film director for the UK market, says the fund is very competitive and there is no one-size-fits-all recipe for successful films.
“We want to support stories that embody all audiences at home and around the world,” she said.
At that time Soft, tender and This place When it received funding from the program, the maximum grant was $125,000, but Telefilm has since doubled that amount to $250,000 for future projects.
Amenta was among a group of filmmakers who worked with Telefilm to propose changes to Talent to Watch in 2020.
“Ultimately, they had to make this change because they realized there wasn’t enough money to make a film ethical, especially when they expected those films to go to festivals like TIFF,” they said.
“In the past, this was a way for filmmakers to experiment, but it was also a way for well-connected, financially secure filmmakers to create art.”
rent and groceries
According to Hooker, those first few dollars can disappear quickly. “The first bit of money you get is just enough not to do a movie,” she said. “You really need the second, third, fourth… those other pieces of silver.”
One place the grant money hasn’t gone is in the pockets of the filmmakers.
“We didn’t see a single penny,” Amenta said. “We reinvested all our costs. So it’s a by-product that we want to do something strong and we need to reinvest.”
CLOCK | Soft, tender Premieres at TIFF on September 9th:
Roberts says that’s what funders expect. “They want to see that you’re invested in the film and have confidence in the product that you’re going to bring to the world,” she said.
However, it can maintain barriers that people who can’t support themselves while their films are in production can’t afford to break, says Roberts.
“If you don’t have the opportunity to finance yourself otherwise. And when I say finance yourself, I mean pay for rent and groceries.”
To thrive despite the logistical challenges of producing microbudget films, Nayani says you have to be willing to rush.
“It’s a really tough industry in Canada. If you don’t want that, you won’t stick around for long.”
Another Canadian debut at TIFF is that of Sophie Jarvis Until the branches bend, at an Okanagan canning factory dealing with an invasive species of insect. Jarvis was born and raised in Vancouver, but is considered Swiss thanks to her grandfather.
While Jarvis performed at a film festival in Berlin due to her role as production designer The body remembers when the world opened up She was able to get in touch with a group of Swiss producers.
“I didn’t even think they would even take the time to get to know us but we ended up having a really fun drink which turned into lunch that turned into dessert which turned into the best afternoon to hang out.” to ally with them. ‘ Jarvis said.
These bonds have blossomed and opened new doors for Until the branches benddespite its rural setting in British Columbia.
“Even though the issue isn’t really Swiss…the fact that I’m Swiss…we have this connection to Switzerland that opens up a lot more funding opportunities,” she said. As a majority Canadian Co-producing, they could film in Canada and then do most of the post-production work in Switzerland with Swiss dollars and talent.
The film also received development funding from Bell’s now abandoned Harold Greenberg Fund and money from Telefilm, CRAVE and Creative BC. Jarvis believes the level of grants available in Canada makes it a unique setting for filmmaking.
“There are opportunities to work, they’re a little reluctant, but they’re there,” she said, though she notes that she’s curious about what might happen because the first feature film experience feels less “wild.”
community in the cinema
To the Soft, delicate Producer Sedore, the most important thing in making a project happen is the bond between the filmmakers.
“You can’t do a project like this with this kind of budget-constrained act without really deep relationships,” he said.
This place Director Nayani says the support of her colleagues got her through difficult times.
“It’s saved me a lot of times over the past 12 years because people said, ‘Don’t give up, you’re just on the brink,'” she said. “You have to build a community because these institutions aren’t always supportive.”
One way to forge these relationships is by making short films, which is often a requirement for an aspiring director looking for a grant. Whereas This place Producer Hooker thinks the idea of the short-to-feature pipeline is overly romantic, believing the connections made on set are the real value.
“Make it short. Not just because it’s your creative genius … but because you have to meet people and go out and go to festivals,” she said.
TIFF and the journey after
Nayani and Hooker say they hope to sell the film to a distributor and tell potential connections about their upcoming projects.
The team behind Soft, tender had TIFF in its sights from the start.
“We’ve had TIFF in mind since December 2018,” Roberts said.
Amenta believes that the anticipation and anticipation associated with festivals is a part of the process that isn’t focused enough.
“There was a minute we really thought we could have come to Cannes and it was amazing,” they said, noting that a raw version of the film had been shortlisted for two programs at the French festival. “It can really mess with your mind. You work hard on something, you want it to be seen.”
Coming to TIFF also underscores the sacrifices Amenta and other young filmmakers had to make to get there.
“Even now I don’t have any money in my bank account, but I guess that’s a by-product of the TIFF premiere.”
#Canadian #rookie #filmmakers #unconventional #journey #land #TIFF #premiere #Reuters