New Brunswick, Canada's Gem.
There's a movement happening and I don't think people realize it's potential. You can call me hokey, dotty, hell call me an unbalanced idiot, I've been called worse.
There is a growing film industry here. Look at this province. We can literally shoot a movie, T.V. show, short, commercial or documentary about anything, and of any genre, from westerns to sci-fi to dramas. We have the vistas, the amazing cities, the small towns, the water, the old heritage, the modern, New Brunswick has it all.
Then there is the talent. For 20+ years people like Cat & Tony Merzetti have fostered, believed in, and encouraged people of all ages, races & sexes who want to take a leap and create films.
In 2009 when I wrote Calling and shared with a few folks who said yes we can make a movie, we had no idea there was a resource such as the one at New Brunswick Filmmakers' Co-operative. Julius Malco, Jason Butts, Guillaume Dauphinais said who cares, let's find a way to make this movie about call center life. We met Jared B Burt who went to film school, and the rest is history. When we finished crafting Calling we were told to reach out Greg Hemmings as he may have some advice on what to do next. So we did, and he is the one who told us no, we weren't crazy, in a bad way. We were crazy in a creative way, and as a matter of fact, there is a group of people at the NB Film Coop based out of Fredericton and that we should get in touch with, join & submit our movie to for their annual Silver Wave Film Festival. We were shocked. There were people here who made movies? Wow.
Greg, Jared, Julius, myself and Matt Brown drove up for the media day, and something amazing happened. I was surrounded by people who just want to create. To tell stories, to act, to produce, to make special effects, and on and on. These people wanted to be different, and we finally felt like we found people who were just as insane as we were, the fun insane.
I can't speak for everyone else who was involved with Calling, but for me I enjoyed the process so much I began writing our next movie The Divorce before we ever screened at Silverwave that year. But by the time our first movie, shot with a camera and lights and a dump truck of passion, when it screened, and we had Billy Campbell, yes the Rocketeer himself attend and walk up to me afterward and say "Well done, how in the hell did you do that with no money"? I knew what I was supposed to be doing. Even though I threw up 10 minutes before the show started, I knew this is who I was. The throwing up thing continued with The Divorce by the way, I assume it will never go away.
I even got to meet and work with a local film maker who every year I went to Silverwave was winning all the awards, so he was a bit of hero. This past summer I got to work on Owl River Runners with Danny Thebeau. From answering a phone in the day and writing a movie with no idea how to make it, to 6 years later asking where the female lead was because she's needed on set.
I have met so many talented people from right here at home, Tim O'neil, Ryan Barton, Britany Sparrow and Rob Gemmell, Bruce LeGrow, Tim Rayne, Gilles Dorion, Jean-Marc Goguen, Steve Dorion, Jesse Anthony, Anthony Tompkins, Michel Guitard, Joceline Paczoski, Pauline Cronin, Corena Walby, Sohrab Lutchmedial, Travis Grant, Jared Carney, Fonya Irvine, André Goguen, Deanna Bartuccio, Chris Fulton and my man I could go on for ever. Just a sampling of the people who all want one thing, for film making to not be that of a hobbyist activity here in New Brunswick, we, they, all want for it to be a thriving industry that attracts productions from all regions of the world & of all types and of any scope.
The problem however is changing the minds, and changing the way of thinking. We can be a region of cynics, of naysayers, but that comes with being a blue collar region. People work damn hard here, and are proud of that fact. They work so hard that most of the country will hire folks from our region on spec, simply because of our work ethic. I know a gentleman that work three jobs to make ends meet, and if you met him you would think he was a millionaire, always has a smile, loves to chat and loves where he's from. But he doesn't get the whole movie thing. "Why would you want to do that" "No one cares" "How good can a movie be if it's from here". These are the kinds of questions he had, until I talked to him over a coffee. He thought we were crazy and didn't understand what it's all about.
It's about the next step, it's about saying oh hell yes we can, it's about putting our sensibilities and ideas out there for not just us, but for the world to see. One set of eyeballs at a time if need be. I asked him, "how great would it be if we were known for having a thriving film industry, instead of being known for combustible liquid and phones"? He kind of smiled and I will remember this forever, he didn't know much about the film industry, but he knew his politics. He said "How can you do this when the province has no money, there is no incentives". And it's something I've heard from fellow film makers as a frustration.
Yes, it's hard when there aren't programs to aid in the production of our films. I know film makers who have stopped trying because of this fact. That is the wrong answer. If we don't collectively prove to the people of our region that there is real talent here, if we don't show them just how great our content can be, and sway the minds of the public, then how do we ever think we will change the provincial or federal thoughts on this? Sounds like a surgeon trying to fix the heart of a man whose been deceased for 10 years. Can't bring him back, but that same surgeon can learn from the deceased, he can spread the word of what he learned, and collectively, find a better way to do what he and his fellow surgeons do.
I'm not saying we are as talented or vital as surgeons, hell anyone can write and shoot a movie. What I'm saying is we need each other, we need to keep doing what we do, we need the public to believe, and we need to believe in ourselves.
I have worked with Elaine Shannon now for three years, on her T.V. show Simply Zen and on The Divorce and Owl River Runners. And I'll tell you why I keep working with her. Because she doesn't give a damn what people think or say. She just does. If we're on set and someone says "Hey Elaine, that big brick wall is in the way, I don't think we can proceed" Elaine simply looks the wall over, calls over a couple people, and on the fly finds a way through, around or over the wall. She does NOT give in to the wall.
That's the way we all need to be. Whether you're a film maker or a hair dresser, a call center employee or retailer, it does't matter, whatever it is that you do, and who you are, always find a way around the wall. Research, examine, and if need be, ask for help. You would be surprised at how many people may have found the same brick barrier in their way, but because they were there before may simply say "oh follow me, I know the way". Makes it a lot easier for you and your team to follow if the way a little clearer.
I can't tell you how much I love where I come from. I can't tell you how proud I am of the talent I see coming from here. There are no words to put here that will express just how grateful I am to have even a few fans who dig what we do. But what I can tell you that you ain't seen nothing yet. The people here in this province, in this region, they haven't even begun to shine. This is that magic time when the darkness of night is giving way to the beams of light from the rising sun.
Can you imagine what it's going to be like when the sun rises, and as folks clear the sleep from their eyes only be blown away by the sheer vastness of real talent this place we call home really has to offer. You may not like what myself and the Let Em Laugh guys create, you may not like a musician because he or she isn't your preferred genre, but you can't ignore the work and drive that goes into getting the product out there. Where we come from, we respect handwork and sweat, we admire those who accomplish a goal.
Never doubt your worth, never question your skill, and never ever disregard the people around you simply because they are doing something different, because different is all that has ever brought real change.
Enjoy your summer folks. To every person who has ever shared, liked, purchased a ticket or talked about one of our projects, good or bad, thank you.
Let Em Laugh Productions