I am writing right now from the middle of the ocean. Somewhere in the Western Caribbean, from a tiny crew cabin on a cruise ship where I work as a personal trainer. Even though it's 3:53 p.m., I have to be aware of how much noise I am making so I won't wake up the Filipino assistant waiter roommate who is sleeping above me on a bunk bed.
Oh yeah... and by the way, I'm a filmmaker.
I MUST be, I HAVE to be... I mean, two years ago, I wrote, directed, produced and edited a full-feature film which was shot using the same exact type of cameras used to shoot high-profile films such as The Social Network and premiered at an international dilm festival. So I MUST be a filmmaker. But yet, I'm in a crew cabin on a cruise ship with a Filipino above my head.
Although it doesn't seem like it right now, I will make a living one day to do what I love, which is writing, directing, producing (I said that I was a filmmaker, I did not say that I was getting paid for it yet.)
Here's how it it all got started. I first wrote three screenplays on my typewriter when I was 13 years old in a French-only speaking small town up in Canada. My imaginations had no limit. Step aside Harry Potter, I would create an entire range of fantastic and imaginary worlds and stories, and then would put them on paper in French in a form of a script.
Fast forward 20 years later, I signed up to be a fitness instructor on a cruise ship in 2008, after having failed badly in a high risk investment, so I could pay off debts without having any living expenses. I got paired with a bloke from Leeds in England. That lad turned out to be my new favorite buddy to grab the occasional beer after work, where we would discuss work, life, women, sex with women, and dreams. One day, our discussion led to me telling him, "I've always wanted to make movies." He replied: "I've always wanted to be an actor." Before long, we figure out that NOBODY (except his dad who loaned him the money) would ever trust us to make a film.
We've got zero experience in the business and... well... as a matter of fact, we were not officially a writer nor a director, nor a producer, nor an actor, but we knew that with determination, we could get it all done. Oren Peli had just done it, with his micro-budget hit Paranormal Activity. So if he can do it, we can too. I had managed to save $15,000 and Tom (Tom Broadwell) borrowed $15,000 from his father, so we now had a $30,000 budget to play with.
So... BOOM. I was all excited. Now I had to start writing a story that would allow us to keep expenses down. It had to be in one location, with a minimum number of cast and a compelling story. Since the age of 13, I had taken lots of notes on story ideas that would cross my mind, and I remembered this one idea which was inspired from my dating life. For a few years, I went on a dating spree (when I had money) and would meet three to five girls a week for dinner dates.
Being very picky, I got sick and tired of NOT finding someone who was compatible on all levels. Sometimes they were smoking hot but had no substance, or all sexually compatible but terrible morals. So my imagination started fantasizing on its own: What if I was to carefully select my perfect mate, using a computer-based analysis screening women to find several dimensions of compatibilities mentally, physically, emotionally and sexually?' It would be awesome. But then... What if SHE did not want anything to do with me?... Maybe I could MAKE HER fall in love with me? Would I be talented enough to do that? If I followed certain psychological steps and stimulate her brain, could I get her to have feelings of love towards me?
That was IT. This was definitely something I would love to see on the big screen.
Because everybody is different, I cannot start to try guessing what people might like or might not like. I can only make movies that I would want to see. Two days, two night and many visits to Starbucks later, Twisted Seduction, was born.
I phoned my brother, and asked him if he could put a crew of film students together who would work for the experience and to also get us legitimate equipment (which is where most of the funds went to.) I wanted to get the best equipment out there, because although it was going to be a micro-budget production, I wanted our film to look like any A-List movies out there. RED HD cameras did the trick. If you know anything about technical specs, we shot in 4K (You know how HD quality is 1080 pixels per inch? Well, we shot in 4000 pixels per inch.)
Tom had permission to learn his lines and fly to Montreal. Although I was aware that Tom was not a trained actor, it came natural for him, because I wrote the character with Tom's personality in mind. My seducer/kidnapper to be was smart, calm and collected. I knew Tom could handle that without any problem.
My brother and I handled the castings. The original screenplay included nudity. But all the ''actresses'' who were willing to take their clothes off for a non-paying gig, not established, no-budget filmmakers wannabes, were absolutely rubbish.
I have three gifts as a filmmaker. #1) My imagination. #2) Knowing what I want the end-results to look like. #3) The ability to smell BS a mile away: "If I can't believe the actress, my audience won't either." I told my brother. So we have to keep looking. In order to get better actresses who would accept to do this project, I removed the nudity requirement, as it was not essential to the story.
I preferred having a great believable actress, than to have a lousy butt-naked ''actress." From a Craigslist posting, I received a great bio from a trained theatrical actress. The minute I saw her photo (I was in the middle of auditioning when the email came though), I told my brother: ''It's HER. I FOUND the look that I am looking for.'' We now had to find out if she could act.
I sent in a request to get a video of a particular scene, to see her conversational and dramatic acting skills and she absolutely NAILED IT in both instances. (I've just posted one of her audition clips on the Twisted Seduction Facebook movie page, if you are curious.)
So we were almost there. We had a screenplay, location, a crew, equipment, lead actors. PERFECT. Our main challenge? We had $15,000 left, and that would only rent us two RED cameras for 10 days.
We have 10 days to shoot. That's it. A professor of my assistant director (Sarah Mannering) told her, that it is impossible to shoot a feature film in 10 days. Which is in part why she wanted to take on this challenge. Well guess what?... We did it.
Ten days later, production was completed. THEN, the mayhem of editing the film came as a challenge. I spent three months on a computer -- 15 hours a day -- to get it out as soon as I possibly could, as I was dying to see the final results. After a newspaper article came out, we received an invitation to submit our film to Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, which we got accepted in and received great reviews.
How did I end up back on a cruise ship again? Two years trying to put our film on the big screen, draining each dollar left of my bank account to send screeners to the big studios. ''There's no big names in your film,'' or ''We don't know how to market your film as it's not a popular commercial genre,'' OR ''We don't accept unsolicited material'." Gee... maybe if you ask to see a copy of my film, it's no longer unsolicited is it?
Bottom line, putting a film on the big screen without a pre-established fan base or a major name attached to it or even an agent, is quite a hard task. Our film remained in the cutting room so we could keep the exclusivity for when it hits theaters, but after getting the door slammed for two years, we decided to offer it for free on our movie site.
It was never about the money; we simply could not get a studio to take interest in our film. It was always about getting people to see our film so we can make more. As a matter of fact, in addition to the 30,000 we're still in the red, we're actually paying for people to see our film (website hosting fees, streaming.)
So here I am, I had to put my dream on a shelf for now and start saving money again so I can get back on my feet. So I returned to a place where I could save money without having living expenses. Hence my snoring Philippine roommate above my head.
One day you will get bored. There won't be anything on TV. It'll be raining or snowing outside. When that day happens, go to our movie site and watch our film. We 've decided to offer it for free, without any registration or advertisement of any kind. Just so people could see our film.
Now you know the story behind, and I would love to get your feedback on the Facebook movie page once you've watched it. I am there whenever I have a chance to post and interact with people.
If you enjoy it, please tell all your twisted friends about it.
And gentlemen... don't try this at home.