Barbara: While Deb and I love to chat about our lives, sometimes we also love to chat about our work (see, there’s a difference). Today, I have a fun work tale to share with you.
A few years ago, I worked on a great independent film here in Toronto called The Death of Alice Blue. It piqued me with its intelligent, understated script and its beguiling director, Park Bench, and star and producer, Alex Appel. Park and Alex cast me in the role of the evil boss of an advertising agency where the true zinger happens to be that we are all vampires preparing to take over the world (advertisers as bloodsuckers––what?!). It isn’t Twilight or True Blood, or any of the usual vampire fare. It is an art-house film that uses deadpan humour to tell the story of one girl, Alice Blue (played by Alex), as she comes of age, slowly discovering she may have the makings to be the most powerful vampire ever. And Evil Boss (me) waffles between wanting to nurture Alice’s great talent and wanting to kill her.
We shot this over a few weeks on a budget that Hollywood would mock, but which nonetheless produced a stylish, cerebral, and funny little gem. In fact, after Alex and Park finally scraped the budget together to finish post-production on the film, it was promptly snatched up by dozens of film festivals around the world, starting with a coveted spot in a Canadian showcase at the MoMA in New York.
Well, this Friday, August 6th, the little gem gets a mainstream theatre opening at a Toronto cinema! Yes, it will have a one-week run at the AMC Yonge and Dundas 24 (at Dundas Square in downtown Toronto). More venues, more cities if it does well. I know most of you don’t live here, but I still wanted to share what for all intents and purposes is an almost impossible feat. And to remind you that where there’s a will, there truly is often a way.
To get a script written is one thing. To have the script succeed as interesting and dramatic enough to film is another. Then to take that work and get someone to back it financially is excruciatingly difficult. There is a lot of creative material out there, not an equal amount of money to finance it, and no objective and certain knowledge of what will fly with an audience. If viewers aren’t interested, there’s no way of recouping any investment. For every success story out there, there are thousands (thousands of thousands) that get hung up at this critical gate. And if you’re lucky enough to scale the mount, then you must still film it, edit it, and polish it until it’s ready for the theatres. This is an exciting and wonderful phase. Like with any storytelling, here is where the filmmakers make their mark, but they do it collectively with many other creative team-members. When everyone is satisfied, it must then pass the test of the cinemas—do the theatre-owner/managers believe it will attract an audience? This is the nail-biting phase. Believe me, just as many finished films fall by the wayside here as scripts do in the earlier stage. And especially low-budget, independent films with no major Hollywood stars (although plenty of those fall too).
So, all this to say how impressed and proud I am that The Death of Alice Blue ran that marathon and managed to make it to the finish line. If you live in the city and want to join us, please come to the 7:00 show—we will be there to watch it with you and answer questions. Of course, coming to any of the other showings would be great too as that helps boost the numbers (Friday-Sunday: 11:30am, 2:00pm, 4:30pm, 7:00pm, 10:05pm; Monday-Thursday: 2:00pm, 4:30pm, 7:00pm, 10:05pm) If you don’t live here, or don’t feel like schlepping into the city, thanks for letting me share my movie tale. And I’d be happy to answer any questions about the film or making it in the comments section.
And for all of you, the trailer is below to whet your appetite!
Deb: Our son, Luke, saw it at the MoMA and said that our own Barb was wonderful in it so that is reason enough for me to go. Hell, I’d even go if she stunk (NOT POSSIBLE EVER!). But yes, it is so wonderful and important to go and support these low-budget films that people have slaved and scrimped over. And as time goes on (to Barb’s point), they give you less and less of a timeline to get an audience. Two days and you are out of there sometimes. So if you are in town, come and support our Vampy Vampire and if you are not, please support from afar. You can even eat popcorn while you do!