Category Archives: Suspense

Behind The Scenes: On The Set Of ‘Patterns’

Have you ever watched a short film and wondered, “How did they do that?” There is no doubt that producing a film of any kind takes a lot of skill, practice, patience and time. A scene that comes on for one minute may have taken one day to get it right. Dedicated crews put in a lot of hard work in order to make a short film that is finally viewed by the audience. Keeping it all together are the visionary directors and producers who are working just as hard to bring shorts fans another quality film to watch.

This past summer, Short Film Fan visited the set of the latest short film produced and directed by BJ Verot called ‘Patterns’. During this particular visit, he and his crew were busy filming a motorcycle scene on an indoor set located in the northwest area of Winnipeg, MB. For some insight into the film and to learn about the techniques he and his crew were using that day, listen to the audio interview below:

Upon entering the stage set, there were multiple activities going on at the same time. Crew members were busy positioning the motorcycle and attaching green material to it before the scene could be filmed. At the same time, Steven was having make-up applied to his head by the make-up artist while waiting in the wings for his cue to come on to the set. Other crew members were making sure that the all lighting was properly adjusted and that all the cameras that were being used were angled and ready to roll. Of course, BJ was there providing instructions and coaching everyone on what needed to be done for the filming of that particular motorcycle scene.

It was a noisy and busy atmosphere that many short film fans don’t have the opportunity to see every day. Many thanks go to BJ, Brad Crawford and the rest of the crew for allowing Short Film Fan onto the set for the chance to learn some basic filmmaking techniques and for this sneak-peak into ‘Patterns’.

As of writing, ‘Patterns’ will be set for its finished post-production in the middle of January 2018.

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Romantic Obsessions Result In Tragedy In ‘The One I Adore’ (2017)

When a relationship ends, both ex-partners have two choices. Either they pick up and move on or they remain stuck and refuse to move on. Even though both partners feel the hurt and pain of a terminated relationship, it is no secret that the one partner who was served notice will feel the pain much more. Shock, anger and grief are a few of the emotions that he or she will experience in the days and weeks after a break-up. Some ex-partners will eventually learn to accept the situation and look forward to the future. Others, however, can’t or won’t accept the situation and will even go so far as to demand the other partner come back to the relationship. Begging and pleading through phone calls and emails could eventually lead into physically stalking the ex-partner at homes, workplaces and public gathering places.

The 8-minute short The One I Adore is a frightening look at how far one woman will go to confront an old love and to settle a score. Written and directed by Jason Seelmann, The One I Adore stars Joceyln Anna Lernout as the Ex-Lover, Nicole Henderson as the Beautiful Woman  and Matteo de Cola as the Handsome Man. The Ex-Lover drives through the night into a part of town where she finds the Beautiful Woman and Handsome Man making their way to a restaurant.  Hiding in the shadows, the Ex looks on as the couple enjoy their dinner date together. As the date continues, the Ex continues to hide unnoticed by the couple and recalls happier times with her former partner in her mind. The couple leave the restaurant and make their way to the Beautiful Woman’s apartment. Not too far behind, the Ex arrives at the apartment and finds the couple in an intimate moment. After a moment of grief and anger, the Ex knew what she had to do next. Get a glimpse of The One I Adore in the trailer below:

Here is what Jason had to say to Short Film Fan about The One I Adore:

“Like many acclaimed artists whose works have long inspired me (such as Martin Scorsese, Kevin Smith and Robert Rodriguez), I am fascinated by twisting psychological journeys; dark stories about people responding to disappointments, rejection or trauma. I believe we are all capable of antisocial behaviour if pushed hard enough. Heartbreak is heartbreak. Obsession and violence is equally tragic in any relationship. We are all human beings who attempt love and falter. Are we not all capable of violence, even murder, if pushed to the breaking point?” he said.

 

Short Film Fan Review:

Generally, The One I Adore had a real spooky overtone caused by the musical score and the lack of dialogue. There was an interesting scene where both women toss their hair back with their hand almost simultaneously. That moment almost made it look as if there was some kind of final lingering connection between them. The characters seemed to lack a certain amount of emotion towards the end, however. The Ex did not look angry or upset enough before the murder, while the Beautiful Woman and the Handsome Man did not look fearful or terrified enough before their anticipated demise. A fight or struggle scene, which was not a part this film, would have added a bit more horror or intensity to the story. In the end, The One I Adore was a well-paced short film that does a great job at reminding us that romantic obsessions do have the potential to end violently and tragically.

The One I Adore makes its world premiere in Toronto at the Blood In The Snow Canadian Film Festival on November 25th at 7 p.m. at The Royal Cinema, 608 College Street. Don’t miss your chance at catching this little psychological thriller on the big screen. For tickets, go to www.universe.com/bitsff

All the best goes to Jason on his filmmaking career. Can’t wait to see what short film he and his team come up with next!

Eye-Opening `Frigid` Reveals Harsh Reality Of Postpartum Depression

Perhaps one of the most joyous occasions in a couple’s life is the birth of their baby son or daughter. Whether the child is the first or the latest in a succession of children to the family, both parents are happy and proud of their newest arrival. However, the stresses of taking care of a baby can emerge in the form of postpartum depression. This type of depression occurs in mothers during and after pregnancy and can occur in fathers as well. Sometimes, it can be difficult to know whether or not one is suffering from a mental illness. Feelings that are shrugged off as ‘having a bad day’ can eventually build up into hopelessness, worthlessness and even thoughts of suicide. When a mother is suffering from postpartum depression, what can she do to manage this illness? What can both the father and the mother do to cope?

Frigid is an intense 14-minute short film on the topic of postpartum depression written by Heli Kennedy and directed by Joe Kicak. Heli also stars as the mother, Leah, while Damon Runyan stars as the father, Vincent. Leah and Vincent have a newborn son, Jacob, in their family. While both Leah and Vincent raise their baby, they soon become at odds with one another over how to take care of him. While Leah struggles with her depression, Vincent’s life is mostly “business as usual”. Over time, Leah’s increasing stress and depression leads to an intense moment that almost cost the couple the life of their son.

Recently, Heli and Joe shared their thoughts with Short Film Fan about Frigid, including the real life background of the film and why it was important to discuss the issues of mental illness in general and postpartum depression in particular.

Short Film Fan: Why did you decide to produce Frigid?

Heli Kennedy: It was a bold story we couldn’t get off our minds. It’s based on a real woman’s dangerous struggle with postpartum depression. Mental illness and motherhood isn’t often talked about yet so many women struggle with it — that’s what drew me to this project, as a writer and actor. It’s an issue that calls for a voice and intimate character study. I come from a family background riddled with mental health issues: agoraphobia, addiction, schizophrenia, depression… I think that’s another reason I was drawn to this story. Delving into this particular character was eye-opening and cathartic. While writing and performing, I tried to keep an element of raw truth in the story. The screenplay, which I had worked on for a couple months, felt very close to being camera- ready and attracted amazing creative talent. So, that also gave us a cue that we were producing the right project!

Joe Kicak: During high school, I opened up to a teacher about my mother’s life-long battle with bi-polar disorder.  She then shared her struggle with post-partum psychosis, which the film is based on. Coming from an immigrant family that didn’t believe in (let alone speak about) mental illness, I find sharing stories of people’s struggles important. That way we can get through the isolated horror, and begin the hard discussions to heal together.

SFF: Frigid was quite scary to watch from the 10-minute mark onwards. Why did you decide to make Frigid as a drama/suspense film?

HK: The idea to make it a drama/suspense came from the desire to keep the audience along for the ride with the main character. We felt that if we told the audience she was struggling with postpartum in the beginning, some may not take the journey with her to see things from her side. The mother is also unaware that she has postpartum, which was pulled from the true story on which this film is based. Her paranoia, fear and hallucinatory visions unfold to her. Suspense felt like the right fit for this — it holds back answers and danger in the plot until specific points. In our case, it’s about holding back the realization of being mentally ill from our mother character. The fear/horror shift at the end is meant to build climax to this realization. It’s horrific to realize you’ve lost a grip on what’s real.

JK: Mental illness can be terrifying for the person experiencing it and the people around them. We treated it like a suspense because there are always little clues that something is wrong. When I was young my father tried to quit drinking cold turkey. His withdrawal process made him start hallucinating.  I remember being 11 years old and he would introduce me to friends that weren’t there. At first I thought it was funny and that he was just joking around with me. However, he started arguing with these imaginary people and became aggressive; slamming doors and punching through windows.  Mental illness turns scary very quickly. It can be like dealing with a ghost in a horror film – like there’s this sudden, invisible danger you don’t know how to handle.

SFF: In the film, the mother is suffering from postpartum depression. But after watching the father’s behaviour, were you trying to get the message across that men can also suffer from this illness?

HK: Our intent wasn’t to portray “postpartum” in men, but to show the struggle both sides of a relationship experiences when it undergoes a major life change, such as having a child. The father, as vilified as he appears from his wife’s perspective, also struggles to adjust to life with a baby. He tries to maintain a relationship with his wife, not aware of the postpartum depression she’s experiencing. He’s tired, confused, angry…his life seems to be deteriorating, and he’s not equipped to deal with it. Mental illness affects everyone around it. So, in a different way, he’s also a victim of it as well.

JK: I think that men can definitely suffer from mental illness when a major life change occurs, like having a baby. Vincent was dealing with his own emotions as a new father, inadvertently trying to hold on to the last bastions of his bachelor life, which added to Leah’s paranoia.

SFF: Frigid premiered at the Calgary Film Festival this year. What was the audience’s reaction to the film?

HK: Great! It really felt like the audience was lured into the story via initial suspense, and slowly realized the serious issue our protagonist faced. The programmer, Brennan Tilley, also told me that he has an infant at home and this film really shook him. If people relate, that’s an amazing reaction!

JK: I love sitting in the back of the theatre for my films because I can observe peoples reactions to specific moments and see what worked and what didn’t. I was happily surprised that there was some laughter in the beginning with the characters’ struggling relationship. It felt great to me because it signals a connection from the audience to the story, which only makes the journey more powerful.  During the climax you can hear gasps and see some hands shoot up to mouths, but at this particular screening two women literally wrapped their scarves around their eyes because they just couldn’t handle it.

SFF: What would you say is the main take-away from Frigid?

HK: I hope the main takeaway is awareness of postpartum depression and compassionate conversations about mental illness (and motherhood). I think one of the goals of film and art is to connect with people and foster understanding.

JK: For me, the film is about starting the discussion. As a child that grew up around mental illness that was never discussed, it’s about showing that many families struggle with issues and asking for help shouldn’t be embarrassing.

 

Short Film Fan Review: Frigid is an eye-opening and shocking short that will keep you on edge for the duration of the film. Both Heli and Damon did an excellent job in portraying their respective characters. One can feel the intensity between them as husband and wife, father and mother. One will also feel sympathy for Leah and Vincent, as they do their best to navigate through an extremely frustrating and confusing moment in their lives. For those who do not understand or know about postpartum depression, Frigid will definitely clarify how serious this mental illness can be. Perhaps the film could have ended with Vincent or Leah making a call to their family doctor or to the Canadian Mental Health Association to get more help. That may have given the audience a bit of relief after the roller-coaster ending scene. Otherwise, Frigid is a must-see film for any new parents or parents-to-be so that they can become prepared to deal with postpartum depression.

For more information about postpartum depression, go to the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website at https://cmha.ca/documents/postpartum-depression/

Have Fun On Halloween With Three Spooky Canadian Short Films

Halloween is just around the corner in Canada. It’s a night of fun and celebration for all who enjoy the tradition. Kids of all sizes will be running through their neighborhoods on the search for candy treasure. Adults will have an opportunity to go out for costume parties, but only after they’ve taken their kids out for trick-or-treating!

Fans of Canadian short film also have a way to join in the Halloween fun. Here are three that have a spooky, suspenseful theme to them:

The Last Halloween by Marc Roussel and Mark Thibodeau. In this 2013 film, four young trick-or-treaters make their Halloween rounds in a devastated neighbourhood. They visit one home where the occupant attempts to chase them away. But what’s the result?

 

Foxed! (2013) by James Stewart and Nev Bezaire. This is an animated short about a girl who is trapped and enslaved by foxes to work deep in their mines. Can she successfully contact and be saved by her mother, who is on the other side of the wall?

 

The Toll by Scott Simpson. A suspense thriller from 2014. A toll booth operator’s seemingly dull evening shift gets very interesting with a car accident, a deceased woman and two armed men. How does he handle the situation?

 

All three films will keep you on the edge of your seat, give you a jolt and leave you wanting more. Once the little armies of costumed children have gone home, or before you head out to that Halloween party, take the time to watch The Last Halloween, Foxed! and The Toll. They’re fun and keep the Halloween spirit alive in Canadian short films.

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‘Interview With A Time Traveler’ (2014) Takes You On A Profound Journey

Summer is practically here. People are thinking about taking time off from work to rest and enjoy the warm weather. Some folks are even taking a trip somewhere, whether it is to a lake resort or another city altogether. Certainly, travel is a popular summer holiday past time. But, would you consider travelling back in time on your holiday?

‘Interview With a Time Traveler’ was produced and directed by James Cooper and written by Peter Rowley. It stars Elias Toufexis as a journalist named Paul and Eric Johnson as The Traveler. After receiving numerous tips regarding future world events, Paul meets with The Traveler in a hotel room in order to find out more about this gentleman and how he was able to supply him with such exact information. In a brooding voice, The Traveler reveals that he is from the future and interacted with many historical figures through his time machine. Realizing that he is ill and dying, The Traveler wants to hand over the time travel role over to Paul. Paul refuses at first. But, he curiously changes his mind after The Traveler reveals an unpleasant incident that took place in Paul’s past. Watch the film below:

I liked the serious and dark feel of the film; the background music definitely added a dire tone. I also enjoyed listening to The Traveler’s dialogue; it was intelligent, philosophical, and thought-provoking. It was interesting that the details of Paul’s unpleasant past incident weren’t really made known. Consequently, it was left up to the imagination of the viewer to try to figure that out. But, that’s one of the fun things about watching short films. Perhaps Paul saw it as a good opportunity to get closure.

I first saw ‘Interview With a Time Traveler’ on CBC’s ‘Canadian Reflections’; it kept me on the edge of my chair and wanting more. I can definitely see it becoming a television mini-series or even a longer feature film. This is a film that is good to watch late at night on a big HD screen television. Put it on your ‘to-do’ list for your holidays this summer. Enjoy!

 

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Chef Reminds Us Who Is Worthy Of Respect in ‘Pour Retourner’

‘Pour Retourner’ (2014) was directed by Scooter Corkle and written by Zack Mosley. In this film, a prison chef gets a chance at a new life in society when he’s released and finds a chef’s job at a local fine restaurant. The restaurant owner used to work under the wing of the former prison inmate, and is skeptical about hiring an ex-con. But, he takes him on regardless as his new chef.  Things get heated in the kitchen when the restaurant owner becomes verbally abusive to his new employee. As a result, the ex-con chef winds up back at the prison kitchen.

http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2463093118

To me, this film had a couple of messages. The first was managing one’s frustration with authority figures. No matter how hard we work to do our best, we can never please everyone. But, it can get extremely frustrating when it is someone in authority (whether it’s a boss, client, parent, etc.) who isn’t happy with us.  The main character did an excellent job at keeping his cool – up until his breaking point.

The second message that I picked up on was respect: everyone wants to be respected. Although the main character did his best to earn respect, he didn’t receive very much of it from the abusive restaurant owner. In fact, he got more respect from the hardened inmates than a ‘civilized’ member of the general public. It’s as though his place in life really was in prison, not in free society.

This was a great short film. The tension between the ex-con and the restaurant owner was very powerful – a stark reminder that workplace conflict exists in all sorts of environments. On the flip side, you got a sense that his inmate friends were always accepting of him. It was nice to see them welcoming  our main character back so warmly upon his ‘retourner’ to prison. It’s a nice feeling of camaraderie that can make a workplace feel like a true home.

 

 (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

 (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)