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Working behind the camera - 2

" The Intimmydator "

A movie by John Henley and David Rutter

This was my second foray into the ACTRA Co-op Competition and the rules remained the same:

  • The subject was to be about the need to preserve the Canadian Culture
  • The movie had to be produced under the Co-op programme rules
  • The maximum length of the movie was not to exceed 90 seconds

David Rutter

On this occasion, David Rutter, an actor with whom I had worked on many occasions, suggested we might team up for this second competition.

I didn't want to "copy" the style of last year's entry "Toques Off ... Stetsons On " so we decided to start with a blank slate and see what would happen.

The repeat theme that entries should deal with the need to preserve Canadian culture and the movie industry was the basis for our idea that someone from the U.S. would try to undermine the industry. In these days of terrorist attacks, what better than a "Cultural Terrorist"?

Doreen Spencer

At the same time, this was a sensitive subject, so the only way to water down any violence was to have a less than competent terrorist, and this is when we came up with Doreen Spencer. Doreen is a fellow Brit and was used to Brit-style visual comedy. She is best known in Canada for a number of funny commercials for 'Leons Furniture'. She is also an older actress so this would add to the incongruity of the whole terrorist concept. That, plus a black eye-patch!

Richard Russell

Although these are only 90 second movies, I look back now and realise just how much time and effort the four people involved (John Henley, David Rutter, Doreen Spencer and Richard Russell) invested in this project.

When David and I worked on the script we wanted as much visual humour as possible, so as our "hero" made her way to Toronto and carried out her dastardly deeds, we built in the gags as we developed the story.

Despite the short duration of the film, we wanted to use authentic locations and, in the case of the Canadian/ U.S. border, signs and locations that looked real. To that end we spent many days, including a vist to Niagara Falls just so that we could take some shots of border crossing notices and the U.S. and Canadian flags flying side by side.

Even though we shot all sorts of video footage and digital pictures at Niagara, we ended up using one shot of one of the customs signs which we used to create our own sign. But it was a pleasant day out for David and I, and lunch was great.

Deciding on Locations was interesting and we actually took the video camera with us so that we could set it up and see potential shots through a viewfinder. This proved to be very worthwhile as, when we started the actual shooting with Doreen, we knew exactly where we were going to shoot, the order of the shots and where the camera would be placed. A great timesaver.

Just for the record, 16 different locations are used in the finished movie, but there were a lot more than that in the material we shot before editing.

We wanted there to be several 'terrorist' style events in the movie but it became apparent that what we were shooting was a seven minute project, not 90 seconds. When you view the movie, the link is at the bottom of the page, you will see how we overcame that problem!

The weather was a bit cold as we shot in the winter, but Doreen was a real trouper and we all had fun.

The editing provided all sorts of challenges as did the accompanying sound track. Some 'custom' music made for the movie just didn't fit the action so we dispensed with that and created our own music. Hurrah for "Smart Sounds".

Once again we decided to package our entry professionally as you can see from the picture. Our two copies of the finished DVD (which were also printed to make the whole package professional) were delivered to ACTRA and that was the last that we heard of our entry.

Click once on the picture to see a larger version. Double click on large version to go back to thumbnail.

I guess a judge or judges viewed the entries, and two were shown at the February conference, but the other entries never saw the light of day again. Thanks ACTRA for caring about the people who actually took the trouble to spend time and money entering and supporting your competition.

At the conference I met another actor who had also entered the competition and she wondered what had happened to her entry too. I bet there were others too whose mini co-op movies won't see the light of day again if ACTRA has its way.

To view " The Intimmydator " Click Here

To read about my first Co-op movie entry " Toques Off ... Stetsons On " Click Here


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