By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
According to a Camden is a short film seeking crowdfunding by a group of talented filmmakers who also see themselves as nerds. Some of whom are going into their third year (or are alumni) of the Motion Picture Arts Program at Capilano University in North Vancouver and this project is taking place in between terms as a project. For executive writer/director Maelina de Grasse, she’s bringing years of her talent (having been in live theater as one of the dancers in Kaleidoscope Theatre‘s Rocky Horror Show) to a story she says is an honest and earnest piece of her heart.
“It’s funny, I don’t think I realized just how close to it I was … until I got to the point that I was pitching it for Off the Grid [a film program from May-June which allows students to turn their ideas into reality], at Capilano University,” said de Grasse.
She had to break down what the film was about. The idea did not come until after the script was done, and it looked at the themes of loneliness and isolation that many people — not just nerds — feel. She specifically wanted to explore the constant trials of figuring who you are and who you want to be in this crazy and confusing world.
“I think in many ways, this film is the result of all my fears, insecurities, and passions being thrown into one mixing pot,” revealed de Grasse.
As she revealed on the Indiegogo campaign page, “I was able to make peace with the fact that maybe we’re all a little lost, sometimes. I have learned that it’s okay to not know for certain who you are, or for the answer to that question to change from day to day. ”
In this movie’s plot, the story is about a young man, Camden, who’s become very restless. He’s very disconnected with his family and does not know where he fits in with them. Despite feeling isolated from the world (the story takes place in the suburbs, away from the hustle of a city), he’s just a man trying to find a place to belong. He wants to figure out his identity. When he’s killed in a car accident, the story will shift towards looking at his family attempting to pick up the pieces. He will be omnipresent and in what he witnesses is going to be sentimental. “The concepts and subjects being tackled in the film are more about family, growing up, and the marvel of human connection, than it is about ghosts. That being said, we do play around with the fact that he’s a spirit,” said de Grasse.
The team assembled will have fun dressing the lead actor, Zachary Lamarche, up. He will look exactly like how he died, complete with road burns and blood stains. He’ll look like he always did, but his family won’t see him. This story is not about the supernatural even though the production team will have fun with the fact in some moments of the story. This aspect will mean some simple effects shots will have to be planned, but their goal is to not play with the ghost story formula. The end product will be a bitter-sweet, feel good type of film. De Grasse wants viewers to have hope and optimism for what’s in store in the future. Like herself, she wants people to have faith; nobody has to feel truly alone.
This fact is also visible in those people who have supported this aspiring filmmaker along the way. A common adage heard in many movie or television sets is how new families form with the people gathered together to help shape a common vision. This aspiring filmmaker credits Emma McGinnis, this film’s producer, who’s encouraged her from the very beginning of the writing process; Mitch Baxter, Director of Photography, who has read every draft and has supported her with enthusiasm, passion and support, and David Ray, her instructor who teaches the art of film directing.
De Grasse looks up to Ray very much. “He’s helped to shape not only the story at its heart but also myself as a filmmaker. I don’t know that I would have finished it without his guidance and inspiration,” said this aspiring visionary.
Approximately two weeks are left to this campaign to get the funds needed to make this 15-minute film. The potential for a longer story might exist, but first, the product has to get made and for shorts, this length of time is ideal for film festival programmers to consider. This format is also ideal because it challenges the producers to edit a firm product. As certain established directors like Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Three Monkeys, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) can tell you, “You have a chance to go deeper into [exploring] the human soul with digital [filmmaking format] just because you can shoot more in low-budget independent movies. You can try different things in the shooting and in editing, something you never intended to be a magical moment becomes on. It’s good to have that much material in editing if you are after something indefinable and something ambitious. (Goodridge, Mike., Film craft: Directing, Focal Press, p. 55)”
De Grasse also revealed how to submitting to festivals can be challenging too.
“There’re hundreds to choose from, but some of the larger ones require the accepted films have it be the first world release, meaning they can’t have been seen elsewhere before being seen there,” said de Grasse. “Getting in festivals is almost just as much about the networking opportunities and the chance to get your name and face out there, even in cities other than your own. That is where you meet people, who, if you’re lucky, will remember you. That’s really how you get anywhere [in this industry] if you want to be an above the line filmmaker in Canada.”
Even after this project, de Grasse is going to continue in doing what she enjoys. In what she wishes to impart upon the supporters of this movie and in what she wishes to convey in her debut film to audiences is visible in her outlook on life now.
“If I want to be a complete and utter fangirl about a TV show or a character in a book, I’m going to do so shamelessly, because if I can feel that much excitement or passion in 15 minutes of my life, it may be more than some people feel in a lifetime. Why deprive myself of that just based off what someone else thinks? Life is short. Do what you love and never regret it for anyone else, no matter what.“
To support this project, please visit According to Camden the Film, Indiegogo campaign page here.