Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NFTKK diary #3: bumps on the road in pre-production

Pre-production continues on the short film I'm currently making in partnership with Katarina Soukup of Catbird Productions. It's called Notes From the Kuerti Keyboard and is being made with a grant from Bravo!FACT. I stated in a previous posting that scouting locations was a very time-consuming drag and one of the things I enjoy the least about filmmaking, but that we had finally taken care of it and that the rest of the way "should be relatively smooth sailing."

I spoke too soon.

On the weekend we found out we lost a key member of our team. Our Director of Photography was required for a stretch on a television series and felt compelled to take that gig. I wasn't upset because that sort of thing happens all the time. Still, it was a shock and could potentially have been a major blow.

Incidents like this demonstrate some of the differences between the industry in Toronto and that in Montreal, where Katarina is from. The film industry in Quebec is very healthy, as Quebeckers are so supportive of the arts in general. That makes it harder to get favours and deals for indie filmmakers. Crew members work often enough at their full rate that taking on a project at a deferred rate seems feels like it's turning away better-paid work.

But in Toronto, we've had so many lean years that we are all willing to help each other out. That's the good side of the rough times we've had - indie filmmakers are willing and able to band together. I've worked on many friends' projects for little or nothing, so I don't mind asking for favours myself. However, I can't really ask people to turn away bigger projects for my benefit. So that does mean occasionally losing people who you were counting on when a more lucrative gig comes their way.

I'm fairly well-connected though, and I was able to put out a few calls. I was able to get a hold of John Tran, with whom I've worked before. He is also excellent, and recently won a CSC Award for his work on the documentary film Waterlife. He was interested in the project but had to check his schedule. He's often very busy and has to travel all over depending on the film. We also didn't have any flexibility ourselves because we had already booked our locations.

Fortunately, he would be available on our shoot days. Now we just have to move quickly since our shoot is in a couple of weeks, but much of that time will be taken up by Hot Docs for both Katarina and myself. We will meet with John on the weekend to finalize our shot list and the equipment list. It should go well, and I'm looking forward to working with John again.

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